COVID-19 outbreak forces PC from classrooms

Presbyterian College has shut down in-person instruction for at least two weeks and has reported a total of 56 active cases of COVID-19 over the past week.

On Sunday, Oct. 4, PC had no active cases and one active case on Monday, Oct. 5, a number that has grown to 56 in a week with two more symptomatic cases awaiting results. Seventy-three people connected with the college are now under quarantine. PC also reports 78 total COVID-19 cases at the school since August.

“Out of an abundance of caution, PC shifted to online instruction for two weeks of classes for the undergraduate campus, to last through Sunday, Oct. 25,” PC Vice-President for Enrollment and Marketing Suzanne Petrusch said in an email Tuesday. “Graduate programs are not impacted by this shift. During the two weeks of online instruction, PC has added to its precautionary steps by further limiting access to the residence halls and common areas, providing to-go dining services, reducing occupancy of the fitness center, and suspending out-of-class gatherings.

“Students, faculty and staff must follow guidelines on physical distancing, symptom monitoring, sanitizing and masks.”

PC head football coach Tommy Spangler announced the suspension of football activities at the school last week, opting out of a scheduled speaking engagement at the Laurens County Touchdown Club. Spangler said five positive COVID-19 cases were connected to the football program.

Thornwell Charter School has opted to close from Monday, Oct. 12 until Monday, Oct 26 “out of an abundance of caution” after a staff member was diagnosed with Covid-19, said Norman Dover, vice president for educational services at Thornwell Home for Children.

“We have been operating on a co-horting system so that each classroom will not mingle with anyone from other classrooms,” Dover said. “It just so happened that this positive case was a staff member and there was the possibility of multiple classroom exposures.”

The school nurse had several discussions on the matter with DHEC officials before the administration decided to close.

There have been no other cases, Dover said, adding that when students return the school will continue the high level of safety precautions currently undertaken.

“We have plexiglass dividers between students and require masks in all common areas, and we social distance everywhere the children go,” Dover said.

Statewide, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) announced 629 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 66 new probable cases Tuesday in addition to 14 newly confirmed deaths.

South Carolina’s totals now sit at 152,963 confirmed cases and 5,920 confirmed deaths.

Four new confirmed cases were reported in Laurens County with no newly confirmed deaths. The number of cases in the county has grown by 97 over the past two weeks, bringing the county’s total to 1,794.

DHEC is also offering free COVID-19 testing in Laurens now through Friday from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Laurens County Health Department.

Self Regional is also sponsoring testing at Bailey Stadium on the campus of Presbyterian College form 9 a.m.-1 p.m. today (Wednesday, Oct. 14).

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