Charleston, South Carolina – As the country is approaching the two-year mark since the start of the pandemic, the health officials across the country are doing everything in their power to keep children in schools and continue with in-person teaching.
The Omicron winter wave caused disruption in the teaching process since the start of the year, but school districts are slowly getting used to the new situation with implementing new quarantine guidelines for both teachers and students.
DHEC recently announced new quarantine protocol called “Test to Stay” which aims to keep children in classroom and avoid unnecessary quarantines.
“We feel this approach protects the health and education interest that we all share for our children. It’s important to keep our kids in an in-person learning environment,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, Director of Public Health for DHEC.
According to the new protocol issued by DHEC, a student that has been in close with another student who tested positive, will continue to attend school as usual and will be tested in five to seven days. If they test positive, they quarantine. If they test negative, they will continue to attend classes, but will have to wear face mask in the next 10 days.
“We have ordered millions of tests including 1.6 million rapid at home tests. Which is enough for two tests for every K-12 student in the state,” said Dr. Traxler.
However, parents are concerned by this approach because of the high number of false rapid tests results with the Omicron variant. Dr. Traxler, however, explains that these rates are not that high and no one should be concerned claiming false results is not an issue.
“There are higher rates or false positives or negatives with the rapid test then there are with the PCR tests. However, those aren’t high rates,” said Dr. Traxler.
DHEC also encourages South Carolinians, including students, to take another test 24 hours after their initial negative rapid test especially if they have symptoms.
This protocol is only for unvaccinated students. Those who are vaccinated do not have to quarantine or test if they are exposed.