Riverhead schools complete mandatory COVID-19 testing

An effort to boost COVID-19 testing in order to keep Riverhead schools open may have paid off.

Interim superintendent Christine Tona announced Wednesday that the district has met its state mandated requirement of testing 20% of the school population.

Over five days of in-school tests at Riverhead High School and Pulaski Street Elementary School, Ms. Tona said 668 students and staff members were tested, resulting in a positivity rate of 3.4%.

Of 117 tests conducted Wednesday, Ms. Tona said seven tested positive, including four high school students, an Aquebogue student and two non-instructional employees. Anyone that must quarantine as a result of contact with these individuals has been notified, the interim superintendent said.

“I have been informed that the governor will make a determination about our status next week,” Ms. Tona wrote to families. “Our schools will remain open until we hear otherwise.”

Riverhead first began testing students and staff on a voluntary basis Nov. 19 as part of a pilot program through Suffolk County. But by Nov. 23, Riverhead hamlet was placed in the state’s mini-cluster focus program Monday after a prolonged period of high positivity rates in the area.

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

Suffolk County health officials reported an additional 966 cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, bringing Tuesday’s daily infection rate to 5.8%. The current seven-day average is 4.5%, officials said.

There were 287 individuals hospitalized Tuesday, which officials said was an increase of 21 in 24 hours.

According to updated guidance from the state, no additional Covid testing will be required if the community remains in the yellow zone, but if it’s designated an orange or red zone, additional Covid tests and school closures could be implemented.