Through five days, Riverhead School District COVID-19 testing at 2.5% positive rate

With about 560 people tested in the first five days, the Riverhead School District has reported 14 positive cases of COVID-19, interim superintendent Christine Tona said at Tuesday’s Riverhead Board of Education meeting.

With the Riverhead community designated as a yellow zone because of a prolonged period of high positivity rates in the area around the Riverhead hamlet, the testing is mandated by the state. Twenty percent of staff and students in the schools that have in-person instruction must be tested or those schools face closing their buildings.

Riley Avenue Elementary School and Aquebogue Elementary School are not included in the yellow zone.

Ms. Tona said Tuesday’s testing resulted in one positive case from 177 tests. On Monday, 173 were tested and 11 positive cases were reported, 10 of them being staff members. A student and a staff member tested positive over the weekend. Last Friday, the first day of such testing, brought no positive tests, she said. The positive tests led to building closures at both Riley and the high school.

Testing will continue Monday at Pulaski Street School and Tuesday at the high school. Schools are closed until then for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Ms. Tona said the school testing positivity rate through Tuesday was 2.5%, which would be enough to keep Riverhead schools open should that 20% testing figure be reached.


Riverhead’s school teachers received a virtual pat on the back at Tuesday’s school board meeting by trustee Christopher Dorr, who commended them for their performance during the pandemic.

“I know that it has been incredibly hard to switch modes from teaching in person to teaching remotely,” he said. “I feel extremely proud of the employees that we have here in Riverhead. I’ve said many times that I feel our teachers are the best in the country. That is why in this unprecedented time we, as educators, cannot just do enough to get by, but we must strive to go above and beyond. I continually see this from quite many of our staff, whether it was raising money and donating devices to our students, teachers that get online early in the morning and don’t quit until late at night, or when teachers have driven work to their students’ homes when we have been closed due to COVID.”

He added, “I cannot thank you all enough for what you have done for our students and Riverhead families.”

Another board member read a statement from a high school English teacher, Dave Spinella: “I am privileged to come to work every day and be among the most dynamic teachers and finest people I have ever met. Keep doing what you do.”


The school district showed its gratitude to OLA of Eastern Long Island, which Ms. Tona said has donated almost $1 million worth of Chromebooks and associated software licenses to the district. A video was played at the meeting with school officials and students thanking OLA for the donations and talking about the impact they have made.

After watching the video on Zoom, Michael Donovan of OLA said, “It’s so hard to do your homework on a phone, and I’m so glad that these Chromebooks made a difference.”