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Schools Grapple With Ever More Covid Cases

Mon, 11/16/2020 - 21:11
Pierson Middle and High School in Sag Harbor. The district reported a new case of Covid-19 on Monday.
Christine Sampson

Covid-19 cases continue to impact South Fork school districts, with new ones reported on an almost daily basis as virus rates increase across the county.

During a Sag Harbor School Board meeting Monday night, Jeff Nichols, the district superintendent, announced that the district had one more positive test result come in that day, for a total of four cases so far. The cases did not appear to be related or to have caused additional infections beyond those who tested positive, Mr. Nichols reported. As of now, 22 students and five staff members are quarantined in Sag Harbor.

The East Hampton Middle School had its second case confirmed on Monday, according to an email from Charles Soriano, the school principal. No one needs to quarantine as a result, he said, because the student was not in school during the typical viral infectious period. At the John M. Marshall Elementary School, the count is now up to 11 cases after two children already in quarantine tested positive. The East Hampton School District has now had 29 cases of Covid-19, including 16 high school students, according to information posted Monday and Tuesday on the School Covid Report Card, a state database.

In Sag Harbor, the fact that there was not a traceable network from Monday's cases was useful information, Mr. Nichols said, when looking ahead and considering the possibility of more cases.

He said he does not "see any reason why the numbers would go down" and speculated that if things continue in this direction, Suffolk County is set to be classified an orange micro-cluster zone by Sunday as per New York State regulations. Yellow, orange, and red zones are areas where seven-day rolling average for Covid-19 infection rates exceed certain levels in greater severity for 10 days. 

When the seven-day rolling average is above 3 percent for 10 days, "high-risk nonessential businesses" such as gyms, barber shops and hair salons, and personal care services have to close, according to state guidelines. Suffolk's seven-day rolling average dropped to 2.9 last Wednesday, but it has been above 3 percent every day since then.

It has stood at 3.4 percent since Friday, when 449 positive test results were reported in the county. On Saturday 365 positive tests were reported, and on Sunday there were 345, according to data from New York State.

This story has been updated to reflect the correct number of new cases in the Sag Harbor School District reported on Monday.

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