MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) – Two daycares in the Myrtle Beach area have temporarily closed after staff members tested positive for COVID-19.
Sean O’Connor, the principal at Risen Christ Christian Academy off North Kings Highway, said weeks after reopening their doors on May 11 with new safety procedures in place, the center learned two child development teachers tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
“We have not had any children test positive, just those two staff members,” O’Connor said.
The academy immediately reached out to the South Carolina Department of Social Services and the Department of Health and Environmental Control for guidance. Based on their recommendations, O’Connor said the staff made the internal decision to temporarily close until Monday, June 22, when the 14-day quarantine period ends.
“We take this very seriously, the health and well being of our kids and staff,” O’Connor said. “We have no idea how prevalent this virus is, not only in our community but around the world.”
O’Conner added that during the quarantine period, a cleaning team experienced with COVID-19 exposure areas, will come in and sanitize the building.
O’Connor said the center sympathizes with parents who returned back to the workforce and were dependent on the child development center for services and have been without that care.
“We are aware this has been an inconvenience for some of our families in need of childcare,” O’Connor said. “Obviously, we are very apologetic for that. Again, it’s our [greater] concern to look out for the well being of all our students and staff members.”
O’Connor said they followed DSS and DHEC guidelines for kids, in case parents were concerned about their child possibly being exposed to the virus.
“The guidance was, if [child or staff] had 30-minutes or longer of direct contact [with the person infected] and then showed signs of COVID-19 related symptoms, it’s DHEC’s recommendation to get tested,” O’Connor said. “And that’s the guidelines we followed.”
Staff at Palmetto Preschool in Myrtle Beach told WMBF News, they also had to temporarily close down one of their locations, at Village Center Boulevard in Carolina Forest because an employee tested positive for COVID-19.
Although they declined an on-camera interview at the time, they said the staff member who tested positive hasn’t been at that location in over a week and their quarantining to be “extra precautious.”
Staff further clarified, the Palmetto Preschool location at 3021 Fred Nash Boulevard in Market Common has not been impacted by the Carolina Forest closure and is fully operational, and its “business as usual” with the preschool open for families.
Some child care facilities are having a different experience.
In Conway, the staff at the Learning Station Child Development Center said none their employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and they remain open with additional safety measures in place. But in the event something did happen, they have a plan of action in place, based on DSS and DHEC guidelines.
“And those guidelines [include] quarantining anyone that’s been exposed, disinfecting, cleaning, possibly a temporary closure, it all depends on the individual case,” said the Learning Station Child Development Center Marketing Coordinator Modesty Brantley. ”We feel very blessed that for the most part, we’ve been unaffected. Our staff is here, we’re healthy, doing everything we can to give a sense of normalcy for the children.”
WMBF News is looking into what child care facilities are required to do during this reopening phase when they learn an employee has tested positive for COVID-19.
We have reached out to DSS and DHEC for clarification about their guidelines during this stage of the pandemic and are waiting for that response.
O’Connor added that the child development center, which accepts children ages six weeks to five years, will undergo a CDC-approved cleaning for COVID-19 exposure prior to reopening.