No significant jump in COVID-19 as kids return to school, SC Health Dept. says

Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 4:00 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 22, 2022 at 5:19 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The second week of school is underway for many Lowcountry students, and this school year looks different from the past few years of COVID-19 precautions.

The public health director at the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said Monday that the state is not seeing any significant increases in cases in schools at this time, but she says it is early.

“We’re getting some reports of outbreak situations in child cares or schools, but thankfully not too many, and what I’m keeping a casual eye on watching those reports go by, I’m happy to see that while they may have 20 percent, I’m not seeing you know, everyone having 75 percent of the class positive or what not,” Dr. Brannon Traxler said.

Traxler said part of DHEC’s approach and guidance going into this school year was to treat the virus as the endemic it’s become, similar to how they treat the flu.

The latest DHEC data shows that just 22.4 percent of kids aged 5 to 11 in South Carolina have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Traxler said that number is low.

“I would love to see that vaccination rate get as high as we can get it,” Traxler said. “One hundred percent might be a little unrealistic but that’s still the target I would say.”

Now is a good time for parents to talk to their child’s provider about vaccination before we enter the fall and winter. Traxler said if you are on the fence, ask a healthcare provider about what they’ve seen in kids who have been vaccinated.

Traxler said she wants parents to do what they can to help limit the spread and encourage their children to get back to what the new normal looks like, which is much closer to the old normal.

She said the best way to do that, and to keep kids from not missing school for COVID-19, is to get them vaccinated. If they find themselves in an outbreak situation, have children wear a mask temporarily.

As of Monday, the Berkeley County School District is reporting that 24 staff members and 207 students have COVID-19. The Charleston County School District is reporting 54 cases in the district. Officials with Dorchester County School District 4 say their district is “in good shape,” with only four students and six staff members in isolation because of COVID-19.