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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 has quarantined 6,800 students over concerns about potential exposure to COVID-19, according to the district's newly-updated dashboard.

While Horry County Schools doesn't have a current enrollment number for this school year yet, HCS spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said that number was just over 43,000 students last year. That means nearly 16% of the student body is home. 

The district added the student quarantine numbers to its dashboard this week after many families questioned why that information was left out of the data. These quarantine numbers reflect only those sent home for possible exposure, not actual positive cases that are listed separately. 

Chief of Student Services Velna Allen said during last Monday’s board meeting that district officials had to get some more “manpower” in order to gather the student quarantine data for publication. 

A total of 679 active COVID-19 cases were reported on the dashboard, with 628 among students and 51 among school district staffers.

For perspective, the total number of historic COVID-19 cases for the 2020-2021 school year was 2,587, with 810 staff members and 1,777 students, according to the district.

In comparison, only 161 staff members are currently in quarantine.

New notes on the dashboard page indicate that students are removed from the school’s quarantine total as the individual student’s quarantine ends.

Aynor Middle School announced on Friday that the school would be moving to distance learning starting Monday through Sept. 13 in order to try and lessen the cases throughout the school.

The district previously said they would take closures on a school-by-school basis instead of closing the entire district at one time, only considering moving to distance learning when the number of cases and/or quarantines made it so that the school could not run efficiently.

AMS is near the top of the list in student quarantines with 377, along with 50 active cases.

Conway High School leads the pack with 413 students in quarantine and 30 active cases.

Myrtle Beach High School has 375 in quarantine, and 26 active cases, while Myrtle Beach Middle has 252 in quarantine and only eight active cases.

See the dashboard by clicking HERE. Numbers are updated every weekday afternoon.  

The district recently posted a chart explaining student quarantine guidelines HERE. 

About 1,600 students are enrolled in the HCS K-12 Virtual program. 

Currently the only students who can be exempt from quarantine are those who are fully vaccinated or have had COVID-19 in the last 90 days. They can remain in school but must wear a mask for 14 days.

Due to state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) regulations, antibody tests from cases older than 90 days will not be accepted as a means to avoid quarantine. 

“That’s because it’s not yet known how long you are protected from getting COVID-19 again after you recover from COVID-19, and vaccination helps protect you even if you’ve already had COVID-19,” DHEC representatives said in an email Monday afternoon.

DHEC assistant state epidemiologist Dr. Jane Kelly weighed in on possible research being done regarding antibodies.

"We are looking at the data here in S.C. to determine what percent of people who had had COVID but no vaccination are re-infected and how many who were vaccinated have breakthrough infection," Kelly said in an email on Monday. 

Families can email covid19info@horrycountyschools.net with any questions about quarantines and contact tracing.

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