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SC health dept. updates guidelines for K-12 schools, childcare centers

Published: Feb. 13, 2022 at 3:41 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 14, 2022 at 4:32 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced changes to its guidelines for childcare centers and K-12 schools designed to keep children safe and stop the spread of COVID-19.

Childcare centers now include a Test to Stay recommendation.

DHEC says the updated childcare guidance means kids who are close contacts can avoid quarantine if they do not have any symptoms and get tested twice: once on day 3 and again between days 5-7. Kids are encouraged to wear a mask through the 10 day period if they are two or older.

“We are consistent in our stance that recommendations should reflect the latest COVID-19 trends and data,” DHEC Public Health Director Dr. Brannon Traxler said.

DHEC has also modified its COVID guidance for K-12 schools.

Changes to the K-12 school guidance are as followed:

  • When using the Test to Stay program, students may remove their mask as needed to participate in an extracurricular activity or sport once they have tested negative on day 5 or later. They must continue to mask at all other times at school through the 10-day period.
  • DHEC no longer strongly recommends universal mask requirements in schools; however, we strongly encourage individuals to mask. We also recognize two specific scenarios in which masking is most needed: when the school’s surrounding community has substantial or high transmission; and when there is an outbreak in a class.

All of the changes are in response to a decline of COVID cases and an effort to keep kids safe, DHEC says.

“We are glad to see cases declining in recent weeks, and we are updating our guidance to reflect that trend while maintaining our focus on keeping children in person at school safely,” Traxler said. “That said, we must continue increasing our vaccinations, masking when appropriate, and following other protocols if we want to see this trend continue and ultimately end this pandemic.”

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