COVID-19

State database on school COVID cases shows positive signs one month into new year

The start of the new school year featured a contentious debate at times about whether students should continue to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as was required in 2020-21.

Under new governor Kathy Hochul, the state ultimately mandated that all students and staff must wear masks while indoors.

A month into the school year, the state has now finished an update on its database that tracks positive cases in schools for students and teachers/staff, presenting a glimpse into how effective the preventive measures have been so far. The School Covid Report Card was first unveiled at the start of the 2020-21 year when so much uncertainty still surrounded how schools would operate amid the ongoing pandemic. Its objective is “to keep parents, students, teachers & staff, and the public fully informed.”

The first month data shows only a handful of cases reported at North Fork schools in Southold Town, signaling no significant spread of COVID-19 in the school buildings. However, the reporting does not begin until Sept. 13, at which point most schools were already open for more than a week.

Cases in the Riverhead Central School District have been largely spread out among all of the district’s buildings. Each building has reported single-digit cases so far among students. However, the data shows nearly twice as many positive cases based on residential address as reported by labs (46) compared to students testing positive as reported by the district (25). The database notes that children ages 5-17 who test positive in the lab reported data may attend a private or charter school in a neighboring district. It also notes discrepancies in the two data sets can be “due to reporting lag times and other variables.”

Nearby Shoreham-Wading River Central School District has so far recorded the highest number of student positive cases. There have been 20 new cases reported between Sept. 23-29 and a total of 28. Wading River Elementary School has recorded the highest number of cases among buildings in the district with 12, according to the most recent data. One teacher and two staff members have also tested positive at Wading River.

SWR Superintendent Gerard Poole said there have not been any signs of school spread.

“The vast majority of cases at Wading River originated through a cluster of students enrolled in a private vendor program,” he said.

He said the elementary classrooms are at six feet of social distancing still for added safety and said the district is following all mandates required by the New York State Department of Health.

“We have great ongoing proactive communication between our families and nurses which helps to keep everyone safe,” Mr. Poole said in an emailed statement.

Nearly 2,500 students on Long Island have tested positive since Sept. 13, according to the database.

Here’s a breakdown of COVID-19 cases in schools. (Data as of reported Sept. 29)

Riverhead

Total Students Testing Positive: 25

Total Teachers Testing Positive: 4

Total Staff Testing Positive: 0

SWR

Total Students Testing Positive: 28

Total Teachers Testing Positive: 4

Total Staff Testing Positive: 2

Mattituck

Total Students Testing Positive: 1

Total Teachers Testing Positive: 1

Total Staff Testing Positive: 0

Southold

Total Students Testing Positive: 3

Total Teachers Testing Positive: 0

Total Staff Testing Positive: 0

Greenport

Total Students Testing Positive: 0

Total Teachers Testing Positive: 0

Total Staff Testing Positive: 0

Oysterponds

Total Students Testing Positive: 0

Total Teachers Testing Positive: 0

Total Staff Testing Positive: 1

New Suffolk

Total Students Testing Positive: 0

Total Teachers Testing Positive: 0

Total Staff Testing Positive: 0