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Orangeburg County schools report 28 COVID cases, 408 in quarantine after first week

The superintendent, however, pointed to many in lower grades opting to wear masks throughout the school district.

ORANGEBURG COUNTY, S.C. — One week after returning to class, Orangeburg County School District is reporting just under 30 COVID cases among students and staff - but over 400 people in quarantine.

The district released a statement on Friday, detailing that, among a school population of hundreds, 17 students and 11 employees had tested positive in the first days. But quarantine numbers ballooned to a much larger 374 students and 34 staff members.

"Anyone who could be considered as a 'close contact,' meaning an individual within current close proximity guidelines of the individual diagnosed with COVID-19 for fifteen minutes or more must quarantine for 14 days after last contact," the letter elaborated.

However, data shows the cases as a whole are heavily spread out among the district with most schools reporting one or two cases each. Only Elloree reported more - with four positive cases. North had the most quarantines with 91.

And while the school district says it can't mandate masks due to the state proviso against such actions, Superintendent Shawn Foster shared some positive news regarding his visit to 112 schools in the district on Monday.

"At one of the first schools I visited, I noticed that only one student in the whole school wasn’t wearing a mask,” said Dr. Foster. “In many of our schools, all staff and students are electing to wear a mask."

A chart provided by the district suggests that, as of Aug. 20, many schools reported fewer than five students without masks.

"I am proud of these individuals for taking the extra safety precaution to keep themselves and others around them safe,” Foster said.

Only Edisto Primary, Edisto High School, and Carver-Edisto Middle reported high numbers of students not wearing masks at 188, 199, and 169 respectively.

In the meantime, the school district's letter to parents also assured that the district would "remain committed to maintaining health and safety for students and staff, while continuing to provide high-quality instruction offerings unique to the students and families" they serve.

The school district has the full letter posted on its website, OCSDSC.org.

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