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DHEC alters quarantine rules to help keep teachers in classrooms

New quarantine guidelines from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control allow unvaccinated S.C. teachers who were exposed to COVID-19 to not quarantine as long as they do not show symptoms and their school is in a critical staffing shortage.

“This action is being taken to alleviate school staff shortages in communities with significant outbreaks and is in keeping with the latest understanding and analysis of the risks and benefits,” the department said in a release. “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.”

Teachers who had not received a complete round of vaccines plus a booster shot were previously required to quarantine before they could return to work after a COVID exposure, even if they developed no symptoms. But schools across the state are now contending with staff absences and shifting to online schooling to alleviate the pressures.

Latest COVID-19 data

South Carolina health officials reported 12,950 total cases of COVID-19 Jan. 18, with 11,737 confirmed. A total of 3 new deaths, 2 of which are confirmed, were also reported.

Over the holiday weekend, DHEC confirmed an additional 46,435 cases, with 15,466 confirmed Saturday, 16,804 confirmed Sunday and 14,165 confirmed Monday.

With 48,249 tests reported Tuesday, 32.7% were confirmed positive.

Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ with at least one vaccine: 66.2%
Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ who have completed vaccination: 56.9%
Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 with at least one vaccine: 16.0%
Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 who have completed vaccination: 10.0%