COVID-19 Cases Reported At Many South Fork Schools Since Classes Resumed

Springs School

Of 16 public school districts spanning the South Fork from Montauk to Eastport-South Manor, nine public districts, plus one private school and one early childhood facility, have reported positive cases of COVID-19 since school opened in September.

This past weekend saw cases reported in Montauk, Sag Harbor, Hampton Bays, Eastport-South Manor, and at the Eleanor Whitmore Early Childhood Center in East Hampton.
Hampton Bays High School closed Tuesday, October 20, as total cases there numbered four.

District officials were notified on Thursday, October 15, that a student in the middle school tested positive for COVID-19. Because the child had already been out of school for a period of time, no quarantine was necessary, Superintendent Lars Clemensen explained.

Also Thursday, the district learned an elementary student tested positive. Children in contact with that student were advised to enter quarantine at home.
On Monday,October 19, the district learned siblings of the infected student — one at the elementary school and one at the high school — tested positive for coronavirus. The elementary school child was already in the quarantine ordered the prior week. The high school student will quarantine also, and the entire facility closed Tuesday, with students learning remotely. It reopened on Wednesday morning following contact tracing and a thorough investigation, the superintendent said via Facebook post Tuesday night. Students who were in first period band on October 15 must quarantine through October 29.

“Our high school student was last in school on Thursday, October 15,” Mr. Clemensen reported in a letter posted to social media Monday night. In accordance with guidance from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, circumstances specific to this individual required a quarantine of close and proximate contacts to take place pending a full investigation by the Department of Health, he said. High School students, including those who attend BOCES, Pre-K, and Life Skills classes, went to full remote studies on Tuesday as a deep cleaning of the facility took place.

The Eastport-South Manor High School was closed Monday after a student there tested positive for COVID-19. The student is the fifth individual in the district to test positive for COVID-19 since school opened in September. Three high school students and two staff members have received positive test results.

In a letter notifying district families, on Monday, October 19, district Superintendent Joseph Steimel said the last day the student was in attendance at the high school was Friday, October 16. The student will not return to school until released from quarantine by the Suffolk County Department of Health.

“Following our protocols for contact tracing and out of caution, the High School was closed today,” the letter states, continuing, “The students were returned home on their school bus and did not enter the building.” Remote learning was implemented using a two-hour delayed schedule.

The district is in close contact with the DOH, and already supporting contact tracing efforts, Mr. Steimel wrote. If quarantines are required for additional individuals, the district will support the DOH in communicating the information to identified individuals.

On Monday, the high school was slated to undergo additional cleaning and disinfecting. It reopened on Tuesday.

This was the district’s second case. Last month, a staff member at the school tested positive for coronavirus. Mr. Steimel alerted community members to the case in an email on September 20. The staff member was not assigned to a classroom and did not have regular prolonged contact with students. The employee was instructed to quarantine and the district completed a disinfection process in the building. The health department advised that high school classes could proceed on their normal schedule in that case.

A Pre-K student at the Eleanor Whitmore Early Childhood Center in East Hampton tested positive for COVID-19, families learned. On Friday, October 16, parents and caregivers were alerted and center officials advised them they would be following specific protocols and guidance for containment.

The affected class will quarantine for 14 days, every family in the class has been notified. The letter notes that if a family hasn’t been notified, their child’s class was not affected.

“We are following protocols with an abundance of caution,” the letter from Executive Director Tim Frazier notes. “Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of the children, staff and families.”

The center has been following strict cohort procedures that keep classrooms separate and isolated from each other, Mr Frazier’s letter emphasizes. “Please know that we are taking this case very seriously and are acting with a sense of urgency around containment and notification.”

With sanitizing occurring over the weekend, the center opened on Monday.

The Montauk School District saw its second case involving a staff member last weekend.
School did not close, but students in a class were required to quarantine until October 27. Families and staff with immediate exposure to the virus were contacted.

A student at Pierson High School in Sag Harbor tested positive for COVID-19, Superintendent Jeff Nichols announced in an email to members of the school community Saturday morning, October 17. The district was informed of the positive test Friday afternoon.

“As outlined in our reopening plan, the district contacted the Suffolk County Department of Health,” Mr. Nichols said in the email. “Since the student’s last day of attending in person sessions was October 9, no further action was deemed necessary at this time. The Health Department has communicated with the student’s family and will be conducting contact tracing.

“Thank you for your continued cooperation in encouraging your children to be safe both in and out of school. As the weather turns colder and we spend more time inside, it is important to remain vigilant in our prevention efforts.”

In September, single cases were reported in the Westhampton Beach, Remsenburg-Speonk, Southampton, Springs, and East Hampton school districts. Since then an additional three cases were reported in East Hampton. There was a case reported at Our Lady of the Hamptons Catholic School in Southampton, as well, though the state report card lists it under the Southampton district.

So far, the following districts have emerged from the pandemic unscathed: Amagansett, Bridgehampton, Wainscott, Sagaponack, Tuckahoe, Quogue and East Quogue.