DHEC releases new guidance on five-day quarantines for students

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Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 8:57 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - State guidelines for how long South Carolina students need to quarantine as a result of a COVID-19 positive test or exposure have changed.

Tuesday afternoon, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control published an updated version of its Guidance for K-12 Schools.

The new guidance allows for students in certain scenarios to return to the classroom after five days so long as criteria are met.

The guidelines reflect the five-day quarantine period outlined by the CDC and mirrored by DHEC in December for the general public.

The DHEC school guidance lays out a series of scenarios and provides guidelines on how districts should respond and what should be expected of the student in question.

In addition to creating a pathway for five-day quarantines, it does not require students who are fully vaccinated (that includes boosted, if eligible) to quarantine if they have no symptoms after close contact.

However, it does mandate masking for that student and in a series of other five-day quarantining scenarios.

Before the release of the guidelines, Richland School District 2, Kershaw County School District, and Orangeburg County School District confirmed to WIS their quarantine policies changed.

A spokesperson said the policies reflected the general public guidance from the CDC and DHEC.

The new guidelines come after a semester where thousands of students across South Carolina were kept from school as a result of the virus.


Kershaw County School District Superintendent Dr. Shane Robbins said his administrative team worked quickly to implement the updated policies because of their benefits.

“I’ve used the term be prepared to pivot a lot of times with our board, with our staff and with our patrons and so that’s what we did. We were ready to pivot when the new guidance came out. Again, we saw it as something that was going to be beneficial to our students, and our staff and those parents that are dealing with the number of quarantine days these students are going through,” he said.

Spokespersons for Richland 1, Lexington 1 and Lexington-Richland 5 said their district leaders are reviewing their district procedures.

DHEC Public Health Director Dr. Brannon Traxler said she expects the CDC to issue further guidance for schools, however, DHEC acted knowing the school year was resuming.

“It is so important for children to be in school and certainly to do it safely and we think both of those things can happen simultaneously. We recognize the desire and urgency to be able to shorten quarantine down to potentially five days, and with the timing of being on a break and coming back was a good opportunity to change guidance,” she said.

DHEC does tally the numbers of students and staff impacted by the virus, and some districts publish it on their websites.

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