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DHEC updates teacher quarantine guidelines for ‘crisis staffing’

DHEC aligns teacher quarantine guidelines with healthcare workers
Teacher with mask, students
Teacher with mask, students(MGN)
Published: Jan. 17, 2022 at 4:31 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) - The DHEC updated its official guidance for quarantining teachers and other school staff exposed to COVID-19 in an effort to keep schools open and in-person when the school is in a “crisis staffing condition.”

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control updated its guidance over the weekend to align teachers and school staff quarantine procedures with healthcare workers.

“School teachers and staff who are not maximally (up to date) vaccinated and who have been exposed to COVID-19 but have no symptoms do not need to quarantine, as long as they have a negative test on day 5 after their exposure and wear a mask for 10 days after exposure,” the DHEC said in a statement.

In crisis mode:

  • Teachers and school staff with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic can return to work after 5 days with a negative test, and that isolation time can be cut further if there are staffing shortages.
  • Teachers and school staff who have received all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses, including a booster, do not need to quarantine at home following high-risk exposures.

The DHEC said this action is being taken to alleviate school staff shortages in communities with significant outbreaks.

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According to the DHEC, this is in keeping with the latest understanding and analysis of the risks and benefits.

“This change will allow more schools to continue providing in-person education for students when they otherwise could not maintain operations due to staffing and would have to close,” the DHEC said in a statement.

DHEC continues to urge all eligible South Carolinians to get maximally vaccinated against COVID-19 (initial series plus booster when eligible), wear masks when indoors in public places or large outdoor gatherings and socially distance where possible to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the potential severity of the virus if contracted.

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