Just a week after opening its doors for a return to classes for the first time in six months, East Rockaway school officials announced that the Junior-Senior High School will switch to an all-remote model at least through Friday after a staff member tested positive for Covid-19. Rhame and Centre Avenue elementary schools will continue with normal operations.
"This afternoon the district was notified that a staff member at the East Rockaway Jr/Sr. High School tested positive for Covid-19," Superintendent of Schools Lisa Ruiz wrote in a letter to the community posted on the district's website. "The district immediately activated our health response plan, put all safety protocols into place and contacted the Nassau County Department of Health."
With the positive test, the district is following guidlines from the state and county Departments of Health, and are working with officials on contact tracing to determine if anyone else is at risk of catching the virus. During the investigation, the school will switch to a full remote instruction model through Friday, and building administrators will soon provide instruction for it.
The unidentified individual who tested positive for the coronavirus will not be permitted to return to the school until 10 days after a negative test result is provided to the district, under guidlines from the state and county Health Departments. Exposure is limited to anyone who was within six feet of that individual for 10 minutes or more, according to the departments. Any staff members who have had close contact with the individual have been identified and will be required to quarantine for 14 days.
Because the case is limited to a high school staff member, both elementary schools were not impacted by the case and will remain open, continuing operations as scheduled.
"We will continue to monitor this situation closely and inform you of any changes," Ruiz wrote.
Before the school year began, the East Rockaway School District engaged more than 100 stakeholders from the school and community to develop plans for the reopening of schools. They created a three-option model for students in all grades, including full in-person, hybrid and remote-only models. Additionally, all teachers received training and instructional tools needed to support students, assess their progress and provide regular feedback. Social distancing, wearing of face coverings and face shields, use of polycarbonate dividers, daily health checks of students by parents, frequent hand washing and use of sanitizing stations are also now required.
Ruiz wrote that any areas of the building that may have been affected will be disinfected under a deep cleaning procedure. She added that the plan is for the school to reopen on Monday, but noted that the community would be advised of any changes. Those who must quarantine for an additional period of time have been contacted by the Department of Health and will follow its directives.
"We will continue to work closely with the Nassau County Department of Health and take all necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of our school community," Ruiz wrote. "The East Rockaway School District is committed to implementing measures to protect students and staff from exposure to Covid-19. We are taking these steps in an abundance of caution and believe this is the most prudent course of action at this time. We will continue to work to make sure you have all the information you need to make informed decisions about your child’s health."
To read Ruiz's message to the community in its entirety, click here.