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Children show up for school at Conway Elementary School on the first day of school in Horry County on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. Photo by Janet Morgan/janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com

Horry County Schools received updated quarantine directions from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control around 10 p.m. Sunday, said Chief of Student Services Velna Allen.

“Given the fluid nature of everything – DHEC made some revisions to last week’s revisions yesterday,” said HCS Superintendent Rick Maxey.

Now there are two definitions for those who have been vaccinated: fully-vaccinated and maximally-vaccinated.

Maximally-vaccinated individuals are those who have received their schedule of vaccinations and have received their booster if eligible.

Fully-vaccinated now refers to those who have not received boosters, mainly students between the ages of 5-17 who completed their primary series more than 14 days ago and haven’t had enough time pass yet to be eligible for their booster shot.

“If individuals received their booster prior to an exposure, they are considered maximally-vaccinated regardless of the time period between receiving their booster and the exposure,” Allen said.

Another new change to the quarantine rules is that at-home tests will now be accepted by the district for a student to return to school, with a few stipulations.

Two negative at-home tests must be provided to the school on the new attestation form parents will fill out (available on the district web site). The tests should be performed at least 24 hours apart and within seven days of exposure. The attestation form asks for details such as the brand name of the test, the date and time the test was taken, and the serial number on the box of the test.

Parents would be responsible for purchasing the at-home tests, which Allen said could run between $25-$30 per test.

Students who shorten their quarantine period from ten days to five days must wear a mask for days five through 10, according to DHEC.

As for who is policing the post-quarantine masking, Allen said students who are quarantined will have mask icons beside their names in Powerschool, the online scheduling and student data program.

Teachers, staff and administration will also be able to see on Powerschool which students should have masks on for those last five days as well.

“That’s going to be the hardest one for us to monitor … we’ll make it work,” Allen said. “It’s a lot of record keeping and it will take some getting used to.”

Allen said the definition for the term “cohort” has also changed.

Previously it meant any group of students: a class; a band; and athletic team. Now, a cohort is a group of five or more people, and if 20% or more of students in a classroom or other cohort are absent or sent home early on the same day due to testing positive or having symptoms, the entire class or cohort must quarantine, Allen said.

This new cohort definition takes effect Tuesday, she said.

District 6 member Helen Smith was concerned about how all of the details would be followed.

“It’s an honor system? It appears to me that it has to be an honor system. I’m not sure,” Smith said.

Parents can send their COVID-19 questions to the district at covid19info@horrycountyschools.net, and negative test results should be sent to negativecovid19results@horrycountyschools.net or to the student’s school nurse.

Maxey thanked everyone for going above and beyond the call of duty throughout all the rule changes.

As of 3:10 p.m. Monday, there were 673 COVID-19 cases in the district, with 633 in the student population and 40 among staffers, with 3,800 students in quarantine.

Allen said as of Monday night, spring enrollment for the HCS K-12 Virtual program stood at 2,122 students.

See all of the updated quarantine rules HERE.

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