SUMMERVILLE — While complaints from parents around mask usage and quarantine protocols rise, Dorchester District 2 is the only public school district in the Lowcountry actively recording and reporting the number of students and staff in quarantine.
As of Aug. 29, there are currently more than 3,500 students and nearly 40 staff members in DD2 that are out after having had close contact with positive COVID cases.
Summerville High School has the most with over 400 students currently under quarantine. This is all out of 455 positive COVID-19 cases reported among students.
District officials were unavailable to comment on the quarantine numbers.
During a recent school board meeting on Aug. 23, multiple parents voiced complaints around the district entertaining any ideas of a mask mandate. The complaints came days after the district saw three employees pass away reportedly from COVID.
DD2, like many districts in the state, has not implemented any mask requirements this school year.
Officials point to a state budget proviso that prevents school districts from using appropriated funds to enforce any kind of mask requirements in schools.
"We were elected to uphold those laws," Gail Hughes, the DD2 school board chair, said during a recent school board meeting.
In comparison to other districts in the tri-county area, DD2 is the only one providing the number of its students currently under quarantine.
In the Charleston County School District, officials are reporting that around 1,930 individuals have been identified as close contacts since Aug. 18.
A spokesman with the district said the number of quarantined individuals is likely lower than that since some close contacts are vaccinated. The district didn't have that exact number available at this time.
More than 600 positive cases have been reported in the district this school year to date.
The Berkeley County School District has nearly 1,000 positive student cases as of Aug. 30.
Katie Tanner, the chief communications officer for BCSD, said the district modeled its COVID reporting features on the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. So it hasn't been reporting the number of quarantined staff and students.
"However, to better serve our communities by providing the most accurate information, we are currently preparing to add that reporting feature to our COVID dashboard (on the district website)," Tanner said.
Angeline Richardson has a granddaughter in BCSD. She was present at a recent protest pushing for the district to issue a mask mandate.
She said she wants a mandate in place to help reduce the number of students in quarantine so that they can learn.
"They don't need to be out of school," Richardson said.
School officials at previous district board meetings have noted there is a risk of entire schools in BCSD going under virtual quarantine protocols if the number of COVID cases continue to rise.