Temporary school closings continue; New York adds five states to travel quarantine

Noble Horvath

This story was reported by Catherine Carrera, Matthew Chayes, Joan Gralla, Bart Jones, and John Valenti. It was written by Jones. Two schools in the William Floyd School District were closed Tuesday after a middle school student tested positive for COVID-19, while a BOCES school in Hicksville where a staff […]

This story was reported by Catherine Carrera, Matthew Chayes, Joan Gralla, Bart Jones, and John Valenti. It was written by Jones.

Two schools in the William Floyd School District were closed Tuesday after a middle school student tested positive for COVID-19, while a BOCES school in Hicksville where a staff member tested positive will halt in-person instruction until Oct. 5, officials said.

Other cases were reported in Lindenhurst and Riverhead schools, as well as in Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, though those schools did not close.

These decisions by school administrators are among a series of temporary shutdowns of Long Island classrooms as virus cases emerge during the first few weeks of the region’s return to classroom instruction.

At the state level, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said five states registering a high positive test rate for COVID-19 were added Tuesday to the list of areas from which travelers must self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving in New York.

Arizona, Minnesota, Nevada, Rhode Island and Wyoming were placed on the “travel advisory” list, bringing to 35 the number of states and territories subject to the mandate, aimed at curbing spread of the coronavirus. No states or territories were removed from the list this week.

New York’s COVID-19 level remained low at 0.89% in test results from Monday, but Cuomo said threats remain to the state’s ability to keep the virus under control.

“For a clear example of the continuing extent of the COVID crisis in America, look no further than New York’s travel advisory list. The virus’ spread across the country — new cases have increased more than 15% in the last 10 days — makes it all the more urgent that we stay vigilant here at home,” Cuomo said in a statement.

The 14-day quarantine applies to any person arriving from an area with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average, or an area with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average.

The news came as the United States passed the grim milestone of 200,000 deaths from COVID-19 — by far the highest total of any country in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the pandemic.

In New York, once the epicenter for virus cases in the United States, three people died of causes related to COVID-19 on Monday, Cuomo said. It was far below the nearly 800 a day who were dying in the state at the pandemic’s peak in April.

Of 83,997 coronavirus test results reported statewide on Monday, 754 were confirmed positive. The total number of new cases was 66 in Nassau County, 67 in Suffolk County, and 351 in New York City.

The positive test level was 1.1% on Long Island and 1% in New York City.

State Liquor Authority agents and State Troopers inspected 1,023 establishments Monday and issued summonses to three for violating state laws targeted at preventing spread of the virus. All three were in Nassau County, Cuomo said.

Temporary school closings continue

District officials said William Floyd Middle School in Moriches and Nathaniel Woodhull Elementary School in Shirley were closed, and students moved to remote learning Tuesday, the latter “out of an abundance of caution” because a sibling of the middle school student who tested positive attends class there. The elementary school student has not tested positive.

School officials said that since Wednesday is a scheduled “all-virtual learning day” in the district, the move to close both schools on Tuesday would “provide two full days for a thorough cleansing and disinfecting of these buildings.” Officials noted the cleanings also are done “each night.”

All other schools in the William Floyd district were open for in-person learning.

The Willet Avenue School in Hicksville closed temporarily after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19, Nassau BOCES said Monday.

Students initially were expected to return to school Tuesday, but the closure was extended at the recommendation of the Nassau County Department of Health, Schools Superintendent Robert R. Dillon said in a letter to parents.

Students will learn remotely through Oct. 2. The school will reopen for in-person instruction on Oct. 5, Dillon said.

Mary Ellen Laurain, a Nassau health department spokeswoman, said recommendations to close school buildings and the time period to observe are based on exposure to people testing positive. Discussions with Willet Avenue School officials found exposure was widespread, she said.

“Depending on what the infected person’s function is in the school or district, sometimes the exposure is less and other times it’s more widespread,” Laurain said. “In this case, the agreement was that it was more widespread, which is why the department recommended a 14-day quarantine period.”

Kellenberg Memorial High School, a Catholic school in Uniondale, said Tuesday it was sending a “cohort” of 78 students home for remote study after a student in their grouping tested positive, but the rest of the 2,600-student school will continue in-person instruction.

In Lindenhurst, the school district said a student at Lindenhurst High School has tested positive for COVID-19, though the school will not close.

Following standard procedure for most Long Island schools, all areas of the building that the individual used were thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, while the Nassau health department started contact tracing. BOCES students who were on the bus with affected students also will study remotely while the health agency completes its investigation, Superintendent Daniel Giordano wrote in a letter to local families.

The Riverhead Central School District announced that “an instructional staff member” at Riverhead Middle School has tested positive for COVID-19. In a letter to parents Monday, Interim Superintendent Christine Tona said all 29 students “who were in contact with this staff member” were asked to stay home and participate in remote learning on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The staff member will quarantine, according to Suffolk County Department of Health guidelines, Tona wrote in that letter.

Two employees of North Babylon High School tested positive after they had contact with two other employees who previously tested positive for the virus, Superintendent Glen A. Eschbach said in a letter Friday. The letter did not indicate if the school needed to be closed but said that the employees “have not had contact with students.” All North Babylon cases are from last week.

Virus uptick in NYC neighborhoods

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday there’s been an uptick of the coronavirus in Midwood, Flatbush and Far Rockaway in Brooklyn and Kew Gardens and Far Rockaway in Queens.

“We need to apply a lot of energy and focus to these areas,” de Blasio said.

The city health department is deploying teams to urge people to comply with social distancing, stay home if sick, wear a mask and wash hands, along with increasing and intensifying testing.

After upticks this summer in the Soundview section of the Bronx and in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, a similar effort deployed in those places yielded good results, he said.

“Huge, hyperlocal effort made all the difference,” he said. “Numbers came right back down.”

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New York’s travel quarantine list

Travelers in New York State’s “travel advisory” list, due to community spread of the COVID-19 virus, are required to quarantine for 14 days. The quarantine applies to any person arriving from an area with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average, or an area with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average. The following is the updated list of states and other jurisdictions whose travelers face those restrictions in New York as of Sept. 22:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

SOURCE: New York Governor’s Office

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