SOUTH CAROLINA, USA — School districts across the state are working to create plans that keep students safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
Although they each vary, many are following the guidelines from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) on how to respond if a students tests positive for COVID-19 on campus.
"In the case when there is a child discovered to have symptoms during the school day, our school districts will have protocols in place to not only notify parents... but also the local health authorities as well," Chuck Saylors, the president of the S.C. School Boards Association and a member of the AccelerateEd task force, said. "They'll have to contact trace all of the students and the adults that have been in connection with that student and with the class during that time."
According to DHEC, those in close contact with the infected student should quarantine, but that doesn't necessarily mean the full class.
Students and teachers in a classroom where social distancing was reliably maintained can stay, but should be monitored for symptoms and try to stay around the same people.
"Where it becomes a challenge is in the high school where there's no common schedule," Saylors said. "Students go in different places at different times and so there will be a significant increase in cleaning protocols at all levels, but in the high schools there's going to be an additional challenge because of the movement of the students."
Districts are focused on prevention strategies with plans to ramp-up cleaning, offer screening and protective gear and adjust seating arrangements and classroom operations to limit close contact among students and staff.
"This is uncharted territory," Saylors said. "...and so this is going to be a learning environment in the beginning, but I can assure you that the school districts... they're going to do everything they can to make sure our students and their staff members and their teachers are safe."
The full guidance can be viewed at SC DHEC online.