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Sick Myrtle Beach student held in school storage closet; HCS points to 'Re-Opening Plan'

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A student at Myrtle Beach Elementary was recently held in a storage closet with the door cracked open after they went to the school nurse’s office with COVID-19-like symptoms, according to a pair of emails obtained by the Post and Courier Myrtle Beach. Horry County Schools/Provided

MYRTLE BEACH — A student at Myrtle Beach Elementary School was recently held in a storage closet with the door cracked open after they went to the school nurse’s office with COVID-19-like symptoms, according to a pair of emails obtained by the Post and Courier Myrtle Beach.

The student’s teacher sent a note to Principal Kristie Hamilton that expressed concern over what they saw.

“My one student had COVID symptoms today, so (the student) went to the nurse. When I came to check on (the student) during my break I noticed (the student) was in the storage closet with the door cracked. (The student) may have been in there for about an hour. I’m not trying to make waves, but for some reason this doesn’t sit right with me. It’s been bothering me all night. What is our protocol if a student has COVID symptoms at school?” the email said.

Hamilton offered up an explanation, pointing to a lack of other areas to have students isolate.

“That area is for students with symptoms. It is the isolation area. It is sanitized after each student leaves. Unfortunately, we do not have another location where the nurse can keep an eye on a student as well as assist other students who come to the nurse’s office,” wrote Hamilton.

The Horry County Schools District Office pointed to the “Health Room & Isolation Area” part of the HCS Re-Opening Plan to explain why areas such as closets are used.

“Due to space limitations, some storage areas/locations in the nurse's office have been temporarily repurposed into an isolation area. This isolation area is where symptomatic students are temporarily placed while they wait for their parents to arrive. Most of these areas also have air purifiers, to include Myrtle Beach Elementary School,” an HCS spokesperson said.

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HCS also indicated that if a parent cannot immediately pick up a symptomatic child until later in the day, “they may be moved to an unoccupied conference room with an adult monitor until the parent can arrive.”

It is unclear if the student in question was in the closet longer than an hour, if they were moved to a conference room or if air purifiers are utilized in this particular storage closet.

HCS has the following protocols in place for students who become ill at school, something that is becoming of higher interest now that HCS will be back to full-time, in-person learning for all by March 15:

  • Whenever symptoms of COVID-19 are present at school, teachers will send students to the health room to be examined by the school nurse. If the school nurse believes the symptoms indicate the probability of COVID-19, parents will be notified immediately and asked to pick up the student from school.
  • Each school will establish a dedicated space for symptomatic individuals. Until the arrival of the parent, the student will be isolated from other students in the dedicated space. The student will be required to wear a mask while in the isolation room and until they exit the school building.
  • Parents should update health records and provide the school nurse with the latest health information on students. It is important that all students have updated immunization records.
  • Parents should update contact and emergency phone numbers.
  • Parents will be given guidelines for the student returning to school after an exclusion. 

Currently, HCS is reporting on its COVID-19 dashboard that it has 94 active cases within the district, including 72 students and 24 staff members.

Reach Nick Masuda at 843-607-0912. Follow him on Twitter at @nickmasudaphoto. 

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