COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control introduced a site Friday that will keep online counts of confirmed COVID-19 cases in state schools.
The new interactive resource will tally cases among students, faculty and staff members at all kindergarten through 12th grade public and private schools in the state.
CLICK HERE to see the latest counts.
The agency released numbers for the first time on Friday, saying there are a total of 159 confirmed COVID-19 cases associated with South Carolina schools. That includes 89 students and 69 school employees who have tested positive.
Gov. Henry McMaster asked DHEC to begin tracking and disclosing the number of cases to the public as the new school year begins.
State Education Association President Sherry East said she spoke with educators at schools where there have been confirmed cases.
“As much as we can social distance in a school setting but you’re still bringing people together who have not been in this environment since March,” she said.
She says she’s glad to see state health officials tracking the number of cases and hopes this can help school districts make smart decisions throughout the school year.
DHEC officials say it’s important to remember the numbers do not mean that students, faculty or staff contracted the virus at school.
“It certainly can give us and idea on how much disease spread is there locally, shows us trends and information on different age groups,” DHEC Physician Consultant Dr. Brannon Traxler said.
Only those students, faculty and staff who physically attend school or a school’s campus on a regular basis will be included in the counts. Some schools may choose to self-announce cases before they are reflected in DHEC’s twice-weekly reports, DHEC said in a news release.
East said it is up to administrators and staff to set an example for students to follow as they navigate teaching during the global pandemic and to slow the spread of COVID-19. She said she is worried once what the numbers will look like once more students are in the classroom.
“I think we’re going to have to be really conscious, wash your hands, wear your mask, stay away from people,” East said.
The information within the school reporting dashboard will be updated twice weekly, on Tuesday and Friday afternoons.