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News Releases

DHEC Expands Test to Stay Recommendation to Include Childcare Facilities, Updates K-12 COVID-19 Guidance

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February 13, 2022

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has updated its COVID-19 Guidance for Childcare Centers to include a Test to Stay (TTS) recommendation, similar to the one already being implemented by South Carolina school districts.

In addition, DHEC has modified its COVID-19 Guidance for K-12 schools to include updated standards for masking and TTS requirements for sports and other extracurricular activities. Changes to both documents are in response to the welcomed decline of COVID-19 cases and reflect DHEC’s efforts to safely keep kids in schools and active in their varying interests outside of the classroom.

“We are consistent in our stance that recommendations should reflect the latest COVID-19 trends and data,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Public Health Director. “We are glad to see cases declining in recent weeks, and we are updating our guidance to reflect that trend while maintaining our focus on keeping children in person at school safely. That said, we must continue increasing our vaccinations, masking when appropriate, and following other protocols if we want to see this trend continue and ultimately end this pandemic.”

The updated childcare guidance states kids who are close contacts can avoid quarantine if they do not have any symptoms and get tested twice: once on day 3 and again between days 5-7. Tests can be a rapid antigen test or a PCR test with results coming in 24 hours or less. Children are also strongly encouraged to wear a mask for 10 days if they are age two or older. Staff in childcare settings must follow the same TTS protocol for schools, which include no symptoms, testing at least once on day 5-7, a second test if available, and masking for 10 days.

Changes to the K-12 school guidance are as followed:

  • When using the TTS program, students may remove their mask as needed to participate in an extracurricular activity or sport once they have tested negative on day 5 or later. They must continue to mask at all other times at school through the 10-day period.
  • DHEC no longer strongly recommends universal mask requirements in schools; however, we strongly encourage individuals to mask. We also recognize two specific scenarios in which masking is most needed: when the school's surrounding community has substantial or high transmission; and when there is an outbreak in a class.

In addition to these updates, DHEC’s other COVID-19 health and safety recommendations remain the same. We strongly encourage vaccinations for ages 5 and up, booster shots for eligible populations, and the use of masks to protect ourselves and each other from virus spread. Vaccination remains the most effective way to prevent COVID-19 and to protect those around you. Find a vaccination site near you on our vaccine locator or by calling our Vaccine Information Line at 1-866-365-8110.



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