The superintendent of a Midlands school district has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Richland School District 2 Superintendent Baron Davis announced his positive COVID-19 diagnosis in an email to district families and employees Tuesday afternoon. He received the test result on Tuesday.
"Over the weekend I started experiencing mild symptoms, including a sore throat and fever, and was tested on Sunday, June 28, 2020," Davis said in the email. "Following the recommended guidelines, I will isolate for 10 days from the date of my test and until I am symptom-free for 72 hours."
With more than 28,000 students, Richland 2 is the fifth largest school district in South Carolina.
The superintendent says he had been taking steps to avoid catching the coronavirus.
"Prior to my diagnosis, I was taking every precaution possible, including wearing a mask, maintaining at least six feet from others and working remotely as much as possible," Davis said. "As a result, no district employees are considered to have been in 'close contact' with me. According to SCDHEC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 'close contact' is defined as being within six feet of someone for at least 15 minutes."
An educator for more than two decades, Davis has been the superintendent in Richland District 2 since 2017.
Davis' announcement comes as COVID-19 cases are exploding across South Carolina. On Tuesday, SCDHEC announced 1,741 new cases, a one-day record, along with 17 new deaths. More than 36,000 people have tested positive for the virus in South Carolina since March, and 735 have died.
Currently, there are 1,021 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the Palmetto State. That's up from 450 COVID-19 patients in state hospitals on June 1.
Meanwhile, SCDHEC advised people Tuesday to avoid large gatherings over the coming Fourth of July weekend.
“We’ve all given so much for so long, and we all want to be at our beautiful beaches, at our parks, our friends’ houses, our block parties and community events but I’m asking all of us to stay vigilant in the fight against this deadly virus," SCDHEC Public Health Director Joan Duwve said in a release. "While we celebrate our country’s birthday, please help your communities, especially those who are at increased risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death. If we all pledge to wear our face masks, stay six feet apart, and wash our hands often, together we will reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives."
Davis encouraged families in Richland 2 to exercise caution.
"My family and I are taking the necessary precautions to ensure our health and safety, and we appreciate your thoughts and concern during this time," the superintendent said in his email. "Please keep yourself and your loved ones as safe as possible."