Boone County Health Dept. outlines guidance for schools

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The Boone County Health Dept., in conjunction with Boone County school districts, is employing guidance created by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to determine if and when schools should close due to COVID-19.

The guidance is a low, medium, high ranking system, measuring three rates of COVID-19 spread in a county: Its two-week cumulative incident rate, trend in incidence rate and its two-week percent positive rate.

BCHD Emergency Services Director Tom Ryan said two of the three rates would need a “high” classification to close schools to in-person classes under the guidance.

Two-week cumulative incidence rate: The number of new infections per 100,000 county residents (Boone County has 67,843 residents, according to most recent census estimates)

  • Low: 0-50 new infections
  • Medium: 51-200 new infections
  • High: ≥ 201 new infections

Trend in incidence rate: Whether cases in the county are increasing, stable or decreasing.

  • Low: Decreasing
  • Medium: Stable
  • High: Increasing

Two-week percent positive rate: The percentage of tests that are positive.

  • Low: ≤ 5 percent
  • Medium: 5.1-9.9 percent
  • High: ≥ 10 percent

“One of the schools suggested it,” Ryan said. “We all looked at it and decided this is a formula we can use and makes it pretty simple. The health department and the schools all agreed to use this.”

Although the guidance provides a way to determine when schools should close, Ryan said school districts have the option to close schools to in-person classes before two of the three rates reach a high classification.

“The schools have autonomy,” Ryan said. “We are here to support the schools and the decisions and offer recommendations, but they have complete autonomy on how they want to run their day-to-day operations, as long as they are running their day-to-day operations safely.”

The health department reported a medium two-week cumulative incidence rate, low trend in incidence rate and high two-week percent positive rate for the weeks from July 18 to Aug. 7, Ryan said.

At the Aug. 10 Boone County Commissioners meeting, county commissioners, at the recommendation of Ryan, renewed the county’s state of emergency resolution for another seven days.


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