SWR school district abruptly closes for day amid possible coronavirus case

The Shoreham-Wading River School District abruptly closed Monday morning just after the first students began to arrive for the day amid fears of a possible coronavirus case related to a staff member’s spouse.

SWR Superintendent Gerard Poole sent a message to parents at 7:21 a.m. alerting them that the district would be closed for the day.

Many students were already at the high school preparing for the start of the week when word came that the students would be heading home. Students typically begin arriving around 7 a.m. and the first bell is 7:20 a.m. Some parents noted online that their children who were on buses heading to school were rerouted back home.

Calls to the district buildings were unanswered Monday morning.

Mr. Poole said in a statement to the News-Review that the district has been in contact with the Suffolk County Department of Health to await confirmation and guidance from them. School was canceled “out of an abundance of caution.”

The district was notified by a member of the high school security team that their spouse may potentially have the coronavirus, Mr. Poole said. There are no confirmed cases within the school community at this time, he added.

The entrance to Shorheam-Wading River High School and the North Shore Public Library was blocked off Monday with a security guard posted. The library will also be closed Monday.

In a letter to families dated March 6, Mr. Poole said the district has been reviewing digital learning options “in the drastic event a school closure continues beyond two weeks.”

Options include the use of Google Classroom and learning platforms such as I-Ready (ELA K-8, math K-2) and ALEKS (math 3-12).

“I encourage all parents to review and check that the log-ins for I-ready and ALEKS for their students are functioning at home.”

Mr. Poole noted additional cleaning protocols have been put in place in accordance with CDC guidance. An additional cleaner has been placed at each building who is disinfecting frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, faucets and counters throughout the school day.

The Suffolk County Department of Health held a regional meeting for schools last week where districts were advised that if a student from a specific district was diagnosed with coronavirus, the superintendent would be notified by the Department of Health. Districts were advised that closing of schools is a worst case possibility. The district would begin to use snow days in accordance with the academic calendar. The school currently has two snow days available that would not impact the calendar. Days 3-9 would ultimately lead into the April spring break.

There has been one confirmed case of the coronavirus in Suffolk County as of Sunday night. Total cases in the state were at 105.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is holding a press conference Monday morning in Hauppauge to provide an update on the county’s response to “contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”