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Horry County School Board looks into COVID-19 testing sites at schools due to high demand

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 5:59 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – Managing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping students safe remains a top priority for leaders at Horry County Schools.

The Horry County Board of Education met on Monday to talk about various ways to control the virus and keep the district’s quarantine numbers down.

On Monday, the Horry County Schools COVID-19 Dashboard listed the number of student quarantines to just 3,900, which is way down from 12,400 just a couple of weeks ago.

“Luckily we have gotten a lot of students back in school and we are proud of that,” said Velna Allen, the director of student services with Horry County Schools.

Allen discussed the latest changes to the district’s quarantine protocol which shortens the length of time a student has to stay out of the classroom. At the beginning of the school year, students in close contact with a COVID-19 case had to stay out of the classroom for 14 days.

But the school district implemented two new options that were recommended by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. Those options include a 10-day quarantine for students without symptoms or a seven-day quarantine for students who test negative after day five. But the test cannot be an at-home test.

Within a few days, the district was flooded with negative tests from parents who were anxious to get their students back in the classroom.

And while kids are getting back in the classroom faster, this may have presented the district with a new hurdle.

“Has there been a shortage of PCR tests reported by our students and their parents? I have not received information to that effect. I’ve heard it from the community, but not necessarily from our parents,” said Horry County School Board Vice-Chairman Neil James.

The district said it’s looking at a new way to meet the sudden burst in demand for COVID-19 tests. It is in talks with DHEC to coordinate testing sites at various schools, but nothing is set in stone yet.

“They said they might could do four or five locations and maybe move those around, so we are looking at that too to be able to help our students get hands on that test,” Allen explained.

Several board members also mentioned they toured a few schools and noticed some cafeterias are open, while others are closed. Superintendent Dr. Rick Maxey explained that reopening lunch rooms will be up to each principal’s discretion, because they know the school’s needs better than anyone.

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