Three SWR students test positive for COVID-19, requiring high school to close Thursday

An uptick in COVID-19 cases at local schools has now extended to Shoreham-Wading River.

The district closed the high school Thursday after two students tested positive for COVID-19, Superintendent Gerald Poole said in a letter to parents. He cautioned that because of multiple cases, an extended closure at the high school could be possible. The district’s other buildings remain open.

Mr. Poole said one student had tested positive earlier in the week and then the district was notified of two more positive cases Wednesday night. The students were last in the building on Tuesday, Oct. 27. The students who tested positive will not be allowed to return to school until the Suffolk County Department of Health releases them from a quarantine, Mr. Poole said.

“The [health department] has recommended that when a building is closed due to a positive case of COVID-19, students, staff and families should continue to practice social distancing, mask wearing and hand/respiratory hygiene with care until the [health department] issues further guidance,” Mr. Poole wrote.

The three students at the high school had attended a weekend social gathering, Mr. Poole said. He encouraged parents of students that attended that gathering to have their children tested for COVID-19 and to report a positive case to the high school.

“What students do over the weekend and after school matters,” he said. “As we have found out, it impacts our ability to remain open daily for all students.”

High school students are switching to distance learning Thursday and using Google Classroom. SWR had been one of the few districts to reopen in September fully in-person. Most districts have operated under a hybrid model.

Mr. Poole noted the district has been in contact with the health department for contact tracing and guidance. He said more updates will be provided once the health department completes its investigation.

The high school will undergo additional cleaning and disinfecting prior to a return to in-person learning, he said.

With Halloween approaching Saturday, Mr. Poole encouraged parents to remind their kids about the importance of COVID-19 health precautions and to avoid large gatherings.

“In order for our schools to remain open and for the health of all students, it is my hope that any large social gatherings that may have been planned for the upcoming weekend are canceled,” Mr. Poole said.

A daily report published by the state health department on COVID cases in schools shows one off-site teacher had also tested positive since school started.

The Riverhead Central School District has been dealing with recent COVID cases as well. Several positive cases among transportation employees left the district unable to transport students to and from the district and forced a full-time switch to remote learning through Nov. 3.