McMaster authorizes DHEC to move forward with COVID-19 testing at schools

McMaster authorizes DHEC to move forward with COVID-19 testing at schools
(Source: Live 5 News)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – The South Carolina governor has given the green light to allow rapid COVID-19 tests kits to be sent to all public schools.

Gov. Henry McMaster signed an executive order that gives the Department of Health and Environmental Control the authority to implement its school testing program.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS | Rapid Testing at S.C. Public Schools

McMaster and the interim director of public health at DHEC, Dr. Brannon Traxler, announced last Thursday that rapid test kits would be sent to all public schools.

“School districts throughout our state have shown that we can safely educate our children in the classroom, and these tests will give students, teachers, and faculty members another layer of defense against the COVID-19 virus,” said McMaster.

The federal government is providing states with rapid testing kits, and over 220,000 of them are allocated for South Carolina public schools, but that number may increase.

The tests will be given to symptomatic students, teachers and other staff. The results will be available in 15 minutes.

McMaster added that it would be up to the parent or guardian to decide if they want their child to be tested and a consent form will be required before a child can be tested.

A day after the announcement, the South Carolina Department of Education said it was caught off guard.

Officials said that they had been working with DHEC on the guidance and logistics of the test kits, but nothing had been finalized. They added that they had not seen or been involved in the creation of the consent forms that will be sent to parents.

DHEC anticipates that school districts will receive the test kits the week of Nov. 30, but districts will need time to distribute them to schools and train staff to administer the tests.

WMBF News spoke to Horry County School Board Chairman Ken Richardson who said he was surprised by the timeline given for the tests. Richardson believes that testing kits will be available in individual schools between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Copyright 2020 WMBF. All rights reserved.