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New Covid Cases Prompt East Hampton Middle and High Schools to Go Remote Next Week

Fri, 01/08/2021 - 13:33
One East Hampton Middle School staff member and eight students have tested positive for Covid-19 within the last six days. 
Carissa Katz

With East Hampton High School reporting 13 active Covid-19 cases this week and the middle school reporting another nine among staff and students, the two schools will switch to fully remote classes next week, the district announced Friday afternoon.

In-person learning remains in place at the John M. Marshall Elementary School.

In a letter to families, Richard Burns, the district superintendent, urged families to "please help us by following all safety guidelines, and especially please limit social gatherings during this time. The spread of Covid-19 in our community is increasing dramatically, and we have yet to see the anticipated increases in positive Covid-19 cases due to holiday gatherings and travel."

The middle and high schools will resume in-person classes on Tuesday, Jan. 19. Mr. Burns said the situation at the elementary school is still being closely monitored. "If the current uptick trend continues there may not be enough staff to keep the school open for in-person learning," he wrote.

A spate of Covid-19 cases was reported this week at the East Hampton Middle School, though no one needed to quarantine, and contact tracing continued to show that none of the cases were actually contracted at school, a senior school administrator said. 

According to a series of emails sent between Monday and Friday by the principal, Charlie Soriano, one staff member and eight students tested positive within the last six days. 

“It’s a challenging situation for sure,” Dr. Soriano said in a message to The Star on Friday. “We’re reflective of what’s happening in the larger community, so we have had a number of cases pop up, and I’ve informed parents. The feedback is that people are nervous, they’re concerned. We’re walking a fine line here.”

The school is not yet at the point where children are catching Covid-19 from others in the classroom, hallways, and cafeteria. However, Dr. Soriano said, “My worry is that we’ll get to a point where there is school spread just because of the sheer numbers, statistically. We’re not there yet . . . but my fear is that as the numbers increase, we increase our chances of that happening despite our health and safety protocols. Otherwise, we’ve been in good shape.”

By Thursday, the most recent date for which numbers were available in the state’s Covid-19 database, the middle school accounted for 12 of the district’s nearly 100 cases — though that is the fewest out of the three East Hampton school buildings. There have been at least 46 cases at East Hampton High School and 32 at the John M. Marshall Elementary School.

At John Marshall, a positive test in the first grade this week resulted in quarantines for two staff members and three other students, according to an email from Karen Kuneth, the interim principal.

And at East Hampton High, James Crenshaw, the principal, said in an email on Thursday that two more cases had been reported there. There are 13 active cases and 30 students in quarantine now, plus an additional 14 students who are quarantined because of recent travel.

The state’s database, online at schoolcovidreportcard.health.ny.gov, also shows the Springs School’s total at 23 cases of Covid-19, and Montauk’s at 16 as of Thursday. The Sag Harbor School District, which opted for all remote classes this week because of numerous staff and student quarantines, was at 16 as of Thursday.

Since the start of the school year, the Bridgehampton School has had 21 cases, including six in the last seven days. The Amagansett School has had five cases and the Wainscott School had four, and the Sagaponack School has reported none.


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