Quarantines Make for Chaotic Start to School Year

Junior Jordan Groff was quarantined for two weeks.

Junior Jordan Groff was quarantined for two weeks.

After spending most of last year on a hybrid schedule due to COVID, students and staff were excited to come back this year and enjoy a normal school year. However, due to a resurgence of the virus in an environment with no safeguards, many students and staff had to be quarantined the first month of school, making it more chaotic than last year. 

Approximately 600 staff and students were quarantined within the first two weeks.

I didn’t think it would be that bad that fast,” Principal Mr. Jeremy Rich said.

Sophomore Cooper Goss was quarantined out of the blue, like so many students this year. He was told right after school on August 20 along with the rest of his weightlifting class that he had to stay home for two weeks. 

“It is significantly harder to get work done,” he said, “I can’t talk to my friends in person, and my entire routine of daily life got thrown to the side.”

Cooper Goss does his school work from home while quarantining.

Sophomore Bianca Custer also was quarantined for two weeks.

“I was sat next someone who came out positive,” she said. “I don’t have it lucky.”

She said she believes she should have been able to get tested before having to quarantine for so long.

The first few weeks of school students had to quarantine two weeks if they were exposed to someone in school who tested positive. But ​starting Sept. 7, the district changed that to 10 days if they did not exhibit any symptoms, and only seven days if they received a negative COVID test.

Sophomore Bianca Custer works does her best to keep up while in quarantine.

In addition to getting quarantined because they were sitting near someone in class who tested positive, students could be quarantined if they were on a sports team where someone tested positive or because a family member tested positive.

Senior Victoria Leroy was quarantined August 24 because multiple people in her family tested positive. She said she it definitely put her behind with school work, but “being put in quarantine was definitely the right thing to do because I did not know if I had COVID or not.”

One of the biggest things students have been missing out on due to quarantining is clubs and sports, which many were looking forward to after being absent from school last year. 

“I felt upset when I found out I was quarantined because I knew I would have to miss out on sports and extracurricular activities,”  said Junior swimmer Jordan Groff, who could not swim for two weeks after she was quarantined due to a classmate testing positive for COVID.

Many parents wrote to board members and district staff members asking why the district was not instituting the same rules as last year, such as making students wear masks and distancing students or instituting a hybrid schedule.

HCS superintendent Dr. Rick Maxey said in a written statement sent out Sept. 7 to all parents that state law prevented them from enacting those kinds of measures. 

Specifically, the legislature passed a law in April mandating a 5-day school schedule. It also passed Proviso 1.108 effective July 1 that does not allow a school district to force students or staff to wear masks. Dr. Maxey said the Horry County Schools risked losing $247 million in state funding if it ignored the law.

Our school district and board of education are limited in what we can do to address the spread of COVID-19,” Maxey said. “Specific state laws restrict us from actions that we may have taken on a local level in the past.”

Students who tested positive for COVID had to deal with the double whammy of being sick and quarantining. Junior Kloe Gregory was quarantined on September 1 for eleven days after she tested positive. One of her biggest struggles was dealing with the isolation of being at home. 

“I felt distanced from others and it was hard staying in your room and not seeing anyone or going outside,” she said.

Sophomore Emerson Taylor tested positive Aug. 31.

“I’m not happy I’m quarantined because I do better in school,” she said at the time. “It has made some of my grades go down because I’m not there to take tests.”