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Health experts warn COVID-19 cases in schools could continue to spike

A study by South Carolina Strong found 30% of parents reported their child was exposed to COVID at school, daycare or at an after school program.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Medical and healthcare professionals are seeing huge increases in the number of children contracting COVID-19, and doctors are saying the winter months could bring higher rates of COVID-19 cases among children.

According to University of South Carolina Associate Professor Dr. Melissa Nolan, with the Delta variant, you're infectious for a longer period of time and can start spreading the virus well before you even start experiencing COVID symptoms.

"The COVID we have this year is very different to the COVID we had last year," said Dr. Nolan.

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Se went on to say, "Which is why we're seeing such a rapid increase in cases in schools, because your kid could be exposed on Monday and could be  sick by Wednesday."

A study by South Carolina Strong found 30% of parents reported their child was exposed to COVID at school, daycare or at an after school program. The study also found 20% of South Carolinian children have tested positive. That equates to one in every five kids contracting the virus.

"Parents with a COVID positive kid are four times more likely to test positive themselves than a parent with a COVID negative kid," said Dr. Nolan.

As of August 25th, Richland School District One reported 39 positive students and eight positive staff members. 

Lexington-Richland District Five recorded 122 students and 15 staff with COVID, with 804 students quarantine. 

In Kershaw County, 247 students have tested positive and 1,224 are in quarantine.

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Dr. Elizabeth Mack, from MUSC's pediatric critical care unit says in addition to COVID, she's also seeing cases of winter viruses. "This trend has continued to worsen and worsen over the past month," says Dr. Mack.

"I am very worried that not just COVID but the other respiratory viruses will continue to attack our kids."

Dr. Nolan says cases could continue into the cooler months, especially with many students maskless. 

"Other public health professionals are gearing up for a larger increase in cases over the next two weeks," says Dr. Nolan. She says a parents best line of protection for their children, is vaccination.

"Parents can't go see their kid because they've tested positive. Imagine if you can't go see your five year old was in the intensive care unit and you couldn't see them because you are COVID positive."