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How Midlands school districts will handle if students get sick with COVID

Midlands school districts will still require quarantines and isolations this year, unless a student or staff member is vaccinated and has no symptoms.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — For most Midlands districts, the first day of school starts next week. This school year, isolations and quarantines will still be mandatory for students when they're identified as a close contact or a positive case.

"If they are at school when we find out they’re a close contact of someone that tested positive, we will pull them out and ask the parent to come and pick them up," explained Lexington School District One's Nursing Director Amy Wood.

Every Midlands school district will require students to isolate at home for at least 10 days if they show symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.

If a student is identified as a close contact, they must quarantine for 14 days. However, they can cut that time down if they provide a negative test result and have zero symptoms.

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Wood told News19 that "if you have no symptoms, you can get tested after your 5th day in quarantine and then you can end quarantine after 7 days."

Wood explained that even if a student or staff member returns early, "you would have to wear a mask for the duration of those 14 days [and] you’d have to do a symptom screening every day for the remainder of those 14 days.”

When a student is pulled into a nurse's isolation room at school, a guardian must pick them up as soon as possible.

"If you’re experiencing symptoms in the school, you’ll have to wear a mask, you’ll have to be put in the isolation room, and if there are others in there we will try to use barriers,” said Wood.

To help with contact-tracing, Lexington One will maintain seating charts on buses, in classrooms and cafeterias to help determine close contacts to positive cases. 

The district has also hired additional help for nurses:

"Every health room has a health room assistant at our schools and they’re full-time," Wood said. She added that they've hired eight float nurses that travel to different schools as needed. 

RELATED: 'I’m scared for my life this school year': Lexington-Richland 5 students, parents challenge optional masks

If a student or staff member is vaccinated, they do not need to quarantine if they don’t have symptoms.

Kershaw County is the only Midlands district that began school last week. As of August 10, they have quarantined 445 students and 8 staff members. All other Midlands districts begin school next week.

The State Department of Education has listed every school district's COVID-19 plan on their website.