In its final week before a mask warrant was implemented, the Sumter School District saw a slight increase in new positive virus cases and student quarantines.
After registering 77 new cases of COVID-19 among students and staff and quarantining 909 students in week 6, the district registered 91 cases of the virus and quarantined 956 students last week, data shows published on Wednesday.
The Week 7 totals represented an increase of 14 cases of the virus and an increase of 47 students (or 5.2%) referred to quarantine from the previous week. Overall, the totals are still well below the first three weeks of the school year, when the district had an average of 184 new cases of COVID-19 and 2,200 students were sent to quarantine each week. The total of 956 student-40s was the third lowest week so far and represents 6% to 6.5% of the district’s enrollments.
Of the 91 cases of the virus last week, 83 were students and eight were staff, the data showed.
Wearing an indoor mask, use of a desk screen, proper hand washing, and respiratory etiquette were all cited by the district administration as factors that may contribute to the decline in numbers in recent weeks. Additionally, the spread of COVID-19, including local and regional hospitalizations, has declined in the state and country since its peak last month.
During quarantine, students receive online education.
The 956 students quarantined within seven days of September 25 to October 25. 1, representing week 7, have return dates that can go from Tuesday to early next week if they don’t develop any symptoms of COVID-19. A total of 32 students quarantined last week have become cases of the virus positive and their quarantine cycles have started again after being identified, the data shows.
WHAT ABOUT THE TOTALS RELEASED NEXT WEEK?
Next week’s district totals will reflect the first week of the district-wide mask tenure, which began Monday in all schools.
Guidelines from the state’s public health department say that a masked student determined to be between 3 feet and 6 feet from a positive infected student is not considered “close contact” and does not need to be quarantined. However, an unmasked student within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student is “close contact” and should be quarantined.
In a discussion with the district administration board about the benefits of a mask warrant, Superintendent Penelope Martin-Knox pointed out that special state guidelines and student quarantines – often 10 days – disrupt the learning process.
The decline in the spread of COVID-19 may also be a factor if district totals decline when data is released next week.