CAMDEN, SC (WSPA) – Officials from the Kershaw County School District have said the number of new weekly COVID-19 cases among students and staff is dropping.
Governor Henry McMaster (R-South Carolina) visited Camden Elementary School to host a roundtable with school officials to discuss their COVID-19 mitigation tools.
Superintendent Dr Shane Robbins said new cases peaked on August 20. It’s about two weeks after classes start in Kershaw County. Since then, the number of students isolated for positive COVID-19 cases and quarantines has declined.
He said, “Our data tells us that our community is doing an incredible job keeping our buildings open.”
Superintendent Robbins attributes this to their layered approach to COVID-19. Officials said they had temperature controls in place, used isolation rooms for sick students, and kept students three feet apart. Some of these measures were also in place last year.
Nurses in their schools also spend much of their time tracing contacts, they said. District nurse Elizabeth Starling said she looked at school bus surveillance video for close contacts.
Governor McMaster said other school districts should implement some of these mitigation tools. He said, “Not everything works for everyone. It works. What they did here using the whole team approach with great community support, support from staff and great nurses and using that day to day data, facts, figures.
Dr Robbins said they are encouraging vaccinations and masks. During the roundtable, principals said they noticed more students being vaccinated and wearing masks to avoid being forced into self-quarantine.
Masks remain optional for students and staff at Kershaw County schools. A one-year state law prohibits the application and enforcement of a face covering requirement with the use of public funds in public schools.
CDC and SC DHEC recommend universal masking in schools to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They also said it would reduce the number of quarantines.
There have been calls for lawmakers to repeal the provision and allow school districts to decide whether or not to impose masks.
After the panel discussion, reporters asked Dr Robbins if he would like to have the option of imposing masks. He said, “We are a county school district so it really varies across our county and our community depending on what we see. Is this a tool I wish I could use? Yes maybe. But that’s not the one I think we need to impose in our schools right now. “
Gov. Henry McMaster said he believes parents should decide whether or not their child wears a mask in schools.
“What has been done here shows that you don’t need to force people to do things to make great progress,” he said.
DHEC announced on Wednesday that it was updating the way it tracks COVID-19 cases associated with schools in South Carolina. They say that since the start of the new school year, 21,000 students have been isolated after testing positive for COVID-19. More than 86,000 students have been quarantined due to close contact.