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Superintendent: S.C. schools already needing to quarantine students, urges masks and vaccines

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 9:47 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - State Superintendent Molly Spearman says coronavirus is already hitting some South Carolina schools.

“One superintendent I spoke with whose schools went back into session last week said they are already beginning to quarantine some students,” Spearman said.

And she is concerned there will be a lot more kids getting sick in the weeks to come.

“What we see going across the country... South Carolina will be the same way. Yes, I think there will be an increase in numbers,” she said.

Spearman said while she can’t mandate masks in schools because of a proviso in the state budget, she strongly encourages unvaccinated students and staff to wear them and get vaccinated if they can.

“It will help us be able to return to school and have a normal year. If not I fear we will have a lot of disruption,” she said. “I’m very concerned. I’m wearing my masks. I’m fully vaccinated. I’m taking responsibility to wear my mask as the CDC has directed.”

On Tuesday, the CDC released new guidelines recommending staff and students at K-12 schools wear masks even if they are vaccinated.

The new guidelines on masking frustrated some vaccinated and unvaccinated people because it felt like a reversal, but state epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said that’s the wrong way to look at it.

“My hope is that people will be frustrated by the continued morbidity and mortality in our communities and will do everything they can to prevent these ongoing hospitalizations [and] these ongoing deaths,” Bell said.

According to Prisma Health, the hospital system had 11 patients with COVID-19 at the end of June and 111 less than a month later.

“The numbers are simply bad, but they are not bad because of vaccinated people it’s because we have too many unvaccinated people around,” Prisma Health Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Helmut Albrecht said.

Spearman said getting vaccinated should not be political and she recently stressed the importance of getting vaccinated to some of her Republican friends.

“President Trump and his family have been vaccinated. He worked hard to get this vaccine out to the people and he has been vaccinated and I would hope they take his lead,” she said. “It would help us stop the spread there is no doubt.”

Gov. McMaster said getting vaccinated is a personal choice, but reiterated Tuesday that his family all got the shot.

“Vaccinated people are not coming into the hospital. It’s clear the vaccine works,” he said.

Without more people getting vaccinated, health experts warn the current trends will continue to get worse especially with schools about to reopen.

There has been a 410 percent increase in South Carolina’s weekly COVID-19 case count over the course of the month of July.

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