COVID-19 cases up to 200 in week 2 in Sumter School District

Quarantined students, mostly because of close contact, nearly double to 2,935


After recording 145 positive COVID-19 cases among students and staff just before and during the first week of school, Sumter School District had 200 virus cases in the week ending Friday.

Also, the number of students directed to quarantine spiked to 2,935 in the second week. The quarantined student total from last week includes positive virus cases and also "close contacts" after school officials performed contact tracing and represents roughly 19% of district enrollment, according to the data released by the district.

In week 1 in the district - which was Aug. 14-20 - 1,565 students had been directed to quarantine. While in quarantine, students receive online instruction. Students in the early grades may receive instructional packets instead.

Sumter's quarantine period is 10 days, and the vast majority of that initial group of students has returned to school, unless they developed any virus symptoms during their time at home, according to the district's spokeswoman.

Those 2,935 students quarantined in the seven days of Aug. 21-27, representing week 2, have return dates that could have ranged from Tuesday until early next week if they do not develop any COVID-19 symptoms.

Students determined to be less than 3 feet from an infected student for a total of 15 minutes or more during a 24-hour period are considered "close contacts," even if wearing a mask, and are directed to quarantine - unless they have been fully vaccinated. Children under the age of 12 are not eligible to be vaccinated in the U.S.

The district attributed the nearly 100% increase in quarantined students in week 2 to the increase in positive cases and the fact that one positive case can affect an entire classroom, small grade level or an entire sports team.

Given that a significantly higher percentage of adults are fully vaccinated compared to students, quarantined staff totals are considerably smaller. A total of 44 teachers/staff in the district were directed to quarantine in week 1. That total increased to 79 staff, which is between 3% and 4% of district staff, in week 2.

The surge in COVID-19 associated with the delta variant is being felt by districts across the state. On Tuesday, Horry County School District along the coast reported about 15% of students were in quarantine.

Clarendon School District 2 in Manning announced it would go fully virtual for at least a week starting Sept. 7.