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More than 1,000 quarantined after first week of school in Lancaster County

LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. — Lancaster County students just finished their first week of classes and already officials have seen a record-setting number of COVID-19 cases in their district.

According to the Lancaster County School District, by the end of the first week of classes, they saw a total of 125 positive COVID-19 cases. Thirty of the cases were in staff members and 95 were students.

As of Saturday morning, 1,110 students and staff members were in quarantine, according to the district dashboard, which is updated weekly.

“Even though we have many precautions in place, we have had many more positive cases than our highest week during the 2020-2021 school year,” said Michelle Craig, the district’s public information specialist. “We are somewhat limited this year with some protocols, but have many of the safety protocols in place from last year.”

Mallory Screpetis said she learned her son at Discover School would have to be quarantined.

“It was frustrating that they did not have a decent plan,” she said.

Screpetis is so upset that she is removing her son from the school and going to homeschool him instead. She said she’s not confident the district can provide the consistency he needs.

“When you have a kid, it’s their first year in school, they really need to get that foundation and starting place and it doesn’t look like we’re going to be getting that,” she said.

Brittany O’Neal’s daughter is a middle school student and she is worried sick about the outbreak.

“You’re not telling me that my child has been infected. You’re not doing your traceables like you should, because my daughter said one of her friends has tested positive, but nobody from the school house has told us,” she said.

Both parents said they wish there was a virtual option, but Lancaster schools doesn’t have one.

[WSOC SPECIAL SECTION: Back to School]

Currently, LCSD limits visitors, assigns seats on buses and in classrooms, and implements social distancing whenever possible, Craig said. Like last year, the district also emphasizes the importance of hand washing and other hygiene practices. Contract tracing and quarantining for close contacts has also continued, and the district provides information to parents when their child is in close proximity to a confirmed positive individual -- even if they are not a close contact.

Along with those measures, symptomatic students and staff remain out of school until COVID-19 is ruled out as a cause for the symptoms.

Craig said LCSD is in the process of adding air cleaner systems in all classrooms and is also interchanging water fountains with touch-less water bottle filling stations.

“We will continue to monitor the situation in the schools and community, continue our consultation with DHEC, and make adjustments and changes to the guidelines as the situation changes,” Craig said.

(WATCH BELOW: Teachers welcome back 70,000 students across local SC counties Monday)

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