S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster said Thursday he plans to issue an executive order for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to provide school districts with COVID-19 rapid testing kits.
McMaster said that it will be up to the parents to decide if they want their child to be tested. Students will be given a form for parents to sign whether or not they want their child to be tested.
“If you want your child to be tested you need to sign the form and send it in,” the governor said. “If you don’t, just say so.”
McMaster said schools can operate safely if they follow the state's COVID-19 procedures and protocols.
DHEC officials said the state's department of education will distribute the kits. Officials added that school nurses will be properly trained on how to conduct these tests.
McMaster said he wants students, teachers and staff to be tested on a regular basis starting after Thanksgiving.
The governor noted that the pandemic has deeply affected the lives of students and their educational growth.
"School closings have disrupted children's learning progress, placing their skill development behind schedule and requiring remedial instruction," McMaster said.
The governor also discussed the effect the pandemic has had on the parents of students.
"For many South Carolina families, schools provide the only opportunity that parents have to go to work," McMaster said. "Most parents who stay home with their children can't go to work everyday. They must go to work in order to pay the bills and keep a roof over their head. Parents should not have to choose between their child, their child's welfare, and their job."
McMaster also asked South Carolinians to be "tested before turkey", echoing other public health experts who say people should make sure they're negative for COVID-19 before interacting with family at large group gatherings.
"Any South Carolinian that wants to get tested can get tested in South Carolina and get the results back before Thanksgiving," McMaster said.
According to DHEC, there are currently 299 mobile testing sites available. To find a testing site near you, visit scdhec.gov/COVID19testing.