COLUMBIA, S.C. ―Today, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is updating its online reporting of COVID-19 Associated with Students & Staff to help parents, caregivers and school officials have additional data about COVID-19’s impact on schools.
DHEC has been working with the S.C. Department of Education to implement a new weekly reporting tool for schools and districts that captures how many students and staff were in quarantine and isolation the previous week due to COVID-19. Beginning today, DHEC’s school cases dashboard will be archived and replaced with a new weekly report for K-12 public, private, and charter schools that provides COVID-19 numbers as reported directly from our state’s schools. This updated reporting includes the number of students and school staff who are isolated – meaning they are a positive COVID-19 case – and the number who are quarantined – meaning they are close contacts. The cumulative number of individuals quarantined and isolated since the start of the 2021-2022 school year will also be included.
“We appreciate the ongoing support and dedication of our school officials, teachers and school employees around the state during these challenging, stressful and emotional times,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Public Health Director. “We know that school officials consider many factors when they make decisions about classroom instruction, and we hope that including quarantine and isolation numbers in our statewide school reporting will provide an additional data set for informing school officials, as well as students, parents and caregivers, about the current status of COVID-19’s effect on our schools.”
While DHEC’s previous school cases dashboard was updated Tuesdays and Fridays, the webpage will now be updated once a week, on Wednesdays, with this expanded school reporting. DHEC sends this new quarantine and isolation survey to schools at 7 a.m. on Fridays, and schools need to report that information back to DHEC by noon on Tuesdays in order for it to be represented on the agency’s webpage on Wednesdays. An “NR” in the reporting means a school did not report information to the agency on time.
“As we work with all charter, public and private schools in the state to implement this new weekly reporting tool, the isolation and quarantine information may be incomplete initially, since the information is coming directly from our state’s schools,” said Dr. Traxler. “If your school’s data isn’t included in our DHEC reporting, please reach out and encourage your school to participate in this important public health effort.”
While school officials, not DHEC, determine whether a school should operate in-person or virtually, DHEC’s regional epidemiology teams provide the most current guidance and other information as requested so school officials can make the most informed decisions possible, in the best interest of the health and wellbeing of their students and staff.
DHEC public health officials continue to strongly urge all eligible South Carolinians to get vaccinated as soon as possible to not only protect themselves, but to protect children under the age of 12 who can’t get vaccinated and are vulnerable to COVID-19 and its variants. Masks should also be worn by students, teachers, visitors, and everyone who’s in a school setting or on a bus.
DHEC’s 2021-2022 interim school guidance is available for everyone here.