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Lancaster Co. school board votes on 10-day quarantine, down from 14

The meeting comes as the district is dealing with rising cases and more than 1,000 students under quarantine.
Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 8:37 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 27, 2021 at 7:27 PM EDT
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LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) - Lancaster County Schools held a special-called meeting Friday morning to discuss Covid-19 procedures.

COVID is sweeping through our schools. More than 220 confirmed cases now in Lancaster County Schools. Nearly 3,000 students and staff quarantined. The district says there is on average 40 news cases a day just this week.

The board discussed and voted on two main changes—quarantine days and a district virtual academy.

The board voted unanimously to move from a 14-day quarantine to a 10-day quarantine with conditions. If a parent wants to send their student back to school within 10 days that student has to agree to wear a mask for four days. Also, parents and nurses have to make sure the student isn’t showing symptoms during that time.

If those are not met, the student will have to wait the full 14. The board also voted to start working toward a seven-day quarantine using ESSER funds. The head nurse told the board this would require double the current 25 nurses she has to keep up.

Within the next week or so, the district plans on putting out a survey to find out how many students would enroll in the virtual academy. This will help the district figure out staffing and how much money needs to go into it.

”I think we need to be cautious. It’s just real important to take small steps,” says Dr. Jonathan Phipps, the superintendent.

There was never going to be a mask mandate vote in schools, according to Phipps. Masks were discussed at the meeting, but only to update the board about the new bus mask mandate from the state.

Related: SC education dept. to enforce mask mandate on school buses

The people against mask mandates and quarantines far outweighed the people who were for them. There were a few times parents would speak over the district admins or board members to get their point across, but overall parents told me they just wanted to be heard.

Parents packed Lancaster County Schools board room as the school board discussed handling the pandemic plaguing their district. When given the opportunity to speak, these parents did not hold back.

”I want to do what’s best for me and somebody else can do what’s best for them,” says one parent.

”I understand that all of you are in a difficult position but you asked to be in this position,” commented another.

”I’m going to a lawyer because my children are being deprived of their education,” explains another.

”You need to do better guys,” says another.

One-by-one parents mostly opposing more restrictions spoke until a small spat caused a recess. When the board came back and the public comment was over, discussion of what to do inside the schools started. The board ended up choosing to reduce the quarantine days and the only mask mandate in the county will be the bus mandate required by the state.

”I am hopeful but that’s all I can say at this point,” says Heather Brasington, a mom of four who is against more restrictions.

”Men lie. Women lie. The numbers don’t. The cases are skyrocketing for a reason,” says Tonya Harris, a grandmother of three Lancaster Schools kids.

The two, Brasington and Harris, are on the complete opposite side of the mask and quarantine debate.

”Kids are getting sick and that is just a fact of life and it sucks. It really does suck but children have to be educated as well,” says Brasington.

”We’re in here talking about decreasing the quarantine days when the numbers are as high as they are,” says Harris.

Superintendent Jonathan Phipps says it is more about making the right choices to keep kids safe and in school.

”I’m not sure now’s the time to put your foot on the accelerator,” says Phipps. “You know I think we need to be cautious and I think that’s what we’re gonna do.”

The new 10-day quarantine should start next week if the district can get the word out to parents who already have kids in quarantine.

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