PICKENS CO., SC (WSPA) – The School District of Pickens County said they have 223 positive COVID-19 cases among students.
The district said the case count is almost triple the highest number of positives from last school year.
The district is currently utilizing remote learning due to the high number of cases and students in quarantine.
A total of 652 students are currently quarantined due to possible COVID-19 exposure.
5.5 percent of the entire Pickens County student body has either tested positive or is in quarantine.
Tammy Galloway is one of many families impacted.
“Well my daughter had received an email from the school saying a child had tested positive that was sitting in proximity of my granddaughter who’s 14. And she started showing symptoms and her mom started showing symptoms, and they went and got tested and both came back positive,” Galloway said. “And the five-year-old twins were also showing signs of COVID.”
The School District of Pickens County said they are preparing to return to in-person learning on August 23. A school district spokesperson, said they have been using this week, to put more safety measures in place.
“So that’s the purpose of this week, was to just stop, assess where we are. See what we can do to get a little stricter with our safety plans and then our plan is to come back next Monday with some additions to safety measures,” said Darian Byrd, Director of Communications and Virtual Learning, School District of Pickens County.
The district has looked at adding a grouping system in some cases.
“What we can do is tighten up our cohorting. It means student A is not going to be changing classes and mixing up with a lot of other students outside of that cohort,” Byrd said.
The district is strongly recommending masks for all students and staff.
After being out this week, one parent who started a petition for kids to stay in school, hopes the district will come up with a better plan if another outbreak happens.
“Going back Monday is of course a good thing, but like I said, there has to be a common ground in between. I think instead of shutting the entire school district down, I think the decision should go based on school-to-school numbers. Just because one school has a high number, doesn’t mean another one does,” said Amanda Rollins, a parent.
Rollins added that she understands the severity of the virus, and cares for those impact. However, Rollins said she believes students learn better in-person.
“Just ultimately, I want all of the state, the local people to see that we don’t want our children to suffer, academically and mentally,” Rollins said.
“We want to be face-to-face. We know that for most people, it’s the best method of education, but again, these are times like no one has ever seen and you can’t operate as normal and just ignore what’s going on,” Byrd said.
Galloway said she wishes the district could stay virtual.
“I think they should stay virtual until we get a hand on this,” Galloway said. “I do think that your health is way more important than your education, and if you’re not here, your education is not going to do anything for you. So, keeping them alive is more important,” Galloway added.
The district said for those wanting to switch to virtual learning, it only has limited spots available. Byrd said first priority will go to medically fragile students, and spots remaining after that, will be looked at on a case-by-case basis.