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As the number of students testing positive for COVID-19 rises, Orangeburg County School District is reminding students and employees not to come to school if someone in their home tests positive.

It’s also noting that 95 percent of students and employees are now wearing masks.

“The CDC is continuing to recommend extra safety precautions. We need to continue to follow these and encourage them around the district,” District Superintendent Dr. Shawn Foster said in a release.

“The safety and health of our students and staff is top priority. We need to do what we can in order to limit the risk of exposure and keep our community safe,” he said.

Since the start of the new school year, 89 students have tested positive for the coronavirus. Seventeen students received positive COVID-19 test results the first week back, and an additional 72 cases were reported the second week.

Also, 26 employees have tested positive for the virus.

Anyone who has been in close contact for 15 cumulative minutes with a person who has tested positive is required to quarantine, unless an exemption is requested due to their full vaccination status or because they have received a positive COVID-19 diagnosis within the last 90 days.

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Districtwide, 567 students have been quarantined since the start of the new school year. Also, 66 employees quarantined through Friday, Aug. 27.

The district also reported that it ended the second week of school with 95% of students heeding public health recommendations to wear a face covering while indoors.

With total enrollment of 10,833 students, nearly 10,250 are consistently electing to wear masks, the district report.

During the first week of school, four schools had more than 100 students not wearing masks. Now only two have more than 100 students without masks. They are:

• Carver-Edisto Middle – 170

• Edisto High – 110

The district reports every student is wearing a mask at Bethune-Bowman Elementary, Bethune-Bowman Middle/High, Brookdale Elementary, Clark Middle, Elloree Elementary, Howard Middle, Hunter-Kinard-Tyler Elementary, Hunter-Kinard-Tyler Middle/High, Marshall Elementary, Mellichamp Elementary, OCSD Alternative Program, Rivelon Elementary, Vance-Providence Elementary and Whittaker Elementary.

South Carolina law prevents school districts from mandating masks for staff and students, although that’s being challenged in court.

OCSD mandates face coverings on school buses and in health care areas of school facilities. Face coverings are also required for any visitors.

“We remain committed to ensuring the safest possible environment for students and staff to the fullest extent practical for teaching, learning and school operations and as allowable under the law,” Foster said. “We will continue to take as many safety precautions as possible while also urging all students, staff and parents to do the same.”

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