Thirteen positive COVID-19 cases reported as testing continues in Riverhead schools

When the Riverhead School District began testing students and staff members on a voluntary basis Friday, it was as part of a pilot program through Suffolk County.

Now, it’s a mandate from New York State and the district must meet its testing target.

Riverhead Superintendent Christine Tona warned parents in a letter Monday night that the district will be forced to close its buildings if it does not meet the yellow zone requirement of testing 20% of its school population. That’s because Riverhead hamlet was placed in the state’s mini-cluster focus program Monday after a prolonged period of high positivity rates in the area around Riverhead hamlet.

On Monday, the district tested 173 students and staff members and reported 11 positive cases, including 10 among staff members from across the district and one high school student. An additional high school student and staff member tested positive over the weekend after there were no positive cases on the first day of testing Friday, Ms. Tona wrote. The diagnoses mean both the high school and Riley Avenue Elementary School will move to remote learning for two weeks.

The hope with testing in the schools, is that the community’s overall positivity rate will decrease and begin to move Riverhead out of the micro-cluster program. The testing will continue on Tuesday and next Monday, Nov. 30 at Pulaski Street School.

“This is a difficult time for everyone in our community,” Ms. Tona wrote to parents. Please continue to follow all health guidelines and consider testing for your family. Together we can bring the positivity rate down and keep our schools and businesses open.”