Riverhead district aims to hit 20% testing mark Tuesday; four new student cases confirmed in Monday’s testing

A total of 53 COVID-19 tests were conducted at Riverhead Central School District schools Monday following the Thanksgiving break and there were four positives, according to interim superintendent Christine Tona.

The positives included one student at Aquebogue, one from Pulaski and two from the high school. Ms. Tona said in addition, two middle school teachers tested positive during the break.

“Anyone who needs to quarantine has been notified,” she said.

Testing is continuing Tuesday as the Suffolk County Department of Health assists in the pilot program launched Nov. 20 in an effort to combat rising positivity rates in Riverhead. The hamlet of Riverhead was designated a yellow zone last week under the state’s micro-cluster system, which now requires the school to test 20% of its population of students and staff or otherwise face building closures.

Ms. Tona said the district has not yet reached 20%, but could do so Tuesday.

“If we do not test 20% of our in-person enrollment or if the positivity rate does not decrease below 3%, we will be forced to move to full-remote instruction for all schools in the “Yellow Zone” until SCDHS approves us to return to in-person instruction,” she said.

Ms. Tona encouraged any parents who have not yet completed the Willingness to Test for COVID survey to do so.

Testing is being done between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the high school gym Tuesday and again between 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Parents can bring their school-aged children to the high school to be tested during those times without an appointment. Anyone going to the gym should enter through the rear of the building.

The county’s drive-through testing is still by appointment only.

Ms. Tona also provided an update on schools reopening. Riley Avenue students will continue remote instruction through Dec. 7 due to the number of staff currently required to quarantine. Students can return to in-person instruction by cohort on Dec. 8.

High school students will continue remote instruction through Dec. 4 and return to in-person instruction by cohort on Dec. 7.

All other schools remain in the hybrid model.

The latest data on the Shoreham-Wading River School District shows 22 total students have tested positive since the start of the school year and six teachers or staff members.

“A large majority of the cases have been in the high school, and those positive cases have resulted in staff and students transitioning to distance learning while school was closed, with a small number required to quarantine,” Superintendent Gerard Poole said Nov. 24. “Importantly, we have not experienced the spread of COVID-19 in our schools which is a testament to the efforts of our students, staff, faculty, and parents in adhering to all the COVID-19 health protocols.”

An update on the district’s reopening plan is expected at Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting, which will be available to watch on livestream.

The health department on Monday reported 658 new cases across the county for the prior 24 hours and a 4.8% positive test rate. The county’s 7-day average is 4.1%.