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As cases rise, V.S. schools brace for a challenging winter

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With Coronavirus positivity rates rising in Nassau County, Valley Stream schools are bracing for a number of potentials, including precautionary closures, required closures and mandatory Covid-19 testing of students and staff, according to a joint letter issued on Nov. 23 by Valley Stream’s four schools superintendents.

As of Tuesday, Nassau’s seven-day positivity rate had jumped to 4.2 percent, with three new reported Covid-19 deaths, according to County Executive Laura Curran, bringing the total death toll in the region to 2,260 since the start of the pandemic. In Valley Stream, 106 new coronavirus cases were reported between Nov. 26 and Dec. 1, according to county Department of Health figures.

In light of this, the superintendents warned that Valley Stream would likely be designated as one of the New York Department of Health’s problem zones, which comes with a host restrictions depending on the severity, including the closure of schools and non-essential businesses.

Although Valley Stream schools have so far seen a handful of cases, including temporary closures at North and South high schools, it does not appear that the virus has been spreading within the buildings. So far, Valley Stream’s three elementary school districts have avoided closures.

The latest confirmed cases include a staff member at Forest Road Elementary School no Dec. 1, a Central High School teacher on Nov. 30, a student at the Carbonaro Elementary School on Nov. 27 and a student at Brooklyn Avenue Elementary School on Nov. 25. None of the cases are believed to have presented a risk of exposure to others in the buildings, according to school officials.

As of Dec. 1, Valley Stream has so far not been designated as one of New York’s so-called cluster zones, which are color-coded depending on the severity of infection rates.

Yellow zones allow schools to remain open with the requirement that 20 percent of students and faculty are tested weekly. Under new guidelines, schools in orange and red zones must close for four days after the zone designation. Reopening is contingent on all returning staff and students receiving a negative coronavirus test, and after, 25 percent of the staff and student population must be tested on a weekly basis in order for the buildings to remain open.