COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – State health officials provided an update on COVID-19 in South Carolina Wednesday morning.

DHEC Public Health Director Dr. Brannon Traxler talked about the recent increase in reported cases, the Novavax vaccine, and what they’re encouraging parents to do ahead of the new school year.

State health officials encouraged parents get their children vaccinated ahead of the new school year.

“With vaccines readily available now for everyone six-months old and up, there’s no better time than now for all children to get their COVID-19 vaccinations so they can focus 100% on school and not worry about missing days and classes and having their schedules changed due to COVID-19,” Dr. Traxler said.

Dr. Traxler also suggested parents check DHEC’s school exclusion list. These are requirements for children and staff to follow with certain diseases and conditions to stay home while contagious.

Dr. Traxler said any student and teacher who tests positive for COVID-19 can return to class five days after symptoms started and if they don’t have a fever for 24 hours without the help of medication and symptoms are improving.

“When they return, a mask needs to be worn for days six through 10,” she said. “If a mask is not worn through day 10, then a 10 day isolation that needs to be observed.”

According to Dr. Traxler, any decisions on mask will be left up to schools and school districts. She said DHEC suggests following the CDC recommendations depending on community levels.

“We recognize they have a lot of factors to consider. We will continue to provide them with the materials such as those community levels so they can make decisions for their schools and schools districts,” Dr. Traxler said.

Dr. Traxler said South Carolina is ordering its allotment of the Novavax vaccine from the federal government. The state is slated to receive 50,000 doses. According to Dr. Traxler, over a short period they will draw down that allocation.