Six students at East Hampton High School tested positive for COVID-19 between Friday, October 30, and Monday, November 2, according to a series of emails from school officials who called on community members to put safety first and prevent community spread of the virus if schools are to stay open this fall and winter.
East Hampton High School remained closed throughout the week as a result of the positive tests, with students engaging in remote learning. According to a release issued on Saturday, the cases are “connected to a social gathering that occurred in the community.”
The gathering was reportedly held indoors at a private residence.
This brings the total number of students in East Hampton up to 10 students — four students at John M. Marshall Elementary School previously tested positive for COVID-19, most recently a kindergarten student, requiring the quarantine of that child’s class and teachers through November 2.
“These cases did not originate in school, but in a small indoor social gathering in a house after school hours,” Superintendent Richard J. Burns said in an email sent out on Monday morning by Assistant Superintendent Adam Fine, regarding the students in the high school who tested positive. “These positive cases were reported to the school district by parents and medical practitioners. Upon learning about these positive cases, the district immediately began contact tracing.”
Mr. Burns said the Suffolk County Department of Health reviewed the district’s contract tracing report and will determine who will be quarantined and what classes or schools need to be closed as a result of the positive tests.
“The silver lining in this terrible news is that none of these cases originated in school,” Mr. Burns said in the email. “[The Department of Health] reported to us when reviewing each of these cases that we have been following the necessary guidelines to keep our students safe. All district employees, administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, custodians and grounds crew and clerical staff are giving their best efforts to keep our students and staff safe.”
The district had announced plans to bring back in-person instruction on Wednesdays, staggered between cohorts, later this month to offer students at the high school three days a week of in-person instruction, with distance learning the remaining two days. In his email to parents, Mr. Burns warned if community spread of COVID-19 continues, the district will be left with few choices.
“It is my greatest hope to safely implement additional days of in-person instruction for all of our students,” he said. “However, our hands will be tied and this will never become a reality if the community spread continues, due to a neglect of practicing safe guidelines. Please partner with us and make the right decisions for your children to keep them safe. I feel confident that together we will make it past this most unfortunate reality. Together as partners in fighting the community spread of this disease, I know that we will be able to provide the best educational experience and the promise of a return to normal for all of our children.”
In other COVID-19 related school news, the Bridgehampton School announced in a message to parents on Friday, October 30, that a staff member had tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the day. Principal Mike Miller, in a recorded message sent to parents, said the staff member had been in district on Thursday and that anyone who had been in contact with that staff member during the previous 48 hours had already been notified.
This is the second case of COVID-19 reported at the Bridgehampton School this fall. The first case was reported earlier last week after a student tested positive.