PLAINVIEW, NY — Two schools in the Plainview-Old Bethpage Central School District will close Thursday after a staff member and student tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
In a letter to the community Wednesday evening, superintendent Mary O’Meara said the district learned Wednesday afternoon that a staff member tested positive for the disease at Plainview-Old Bethpage Middle School. The district then learned Wednesday evening that a student at Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School also tested positive.
Both schools will shift to remote learning Thursday and teachers will provide live instruction, O’Meara said.
In the middle school case, the infected staff member was in school Monday and Tuesday. O'Meara said the infected student was in the high school Monday. Contact tracing efforts will not be completed until Thursday in both cases, she said.
"The district is confident that classroom procedures and disinfecting protocols will result in limited exposure to staff and students," O'Meara said of both cases. She expected that the high school will open for staff Friday and for students Monday.
O'Meara also warned that amid a rise in cases on Long Island, everyone in the school community should commit to proactively taking steps to prevent the spread of the virus. This includes social distancing, wearing face-coverings, regularly handwashing, and limiting time spent in close contact with people in social settings.
"The promise of a vaccine signals that the end to this pandemic is near," she said. "Until that time, we have a great responsibility to our children. Together, we can create a school year that sees our students back in school as often as possible to learn and to connect with friends and teachers."
The closure comes after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that New York bars and restaurants that sell alcohol and gyms will soon have to close by 10 p.m. amid rising coronavirus cases. The state will also limit private house parties to no more than 10 people. If a household contains more than 10 people, no more than those living in the household will be permitted.
The new rules go into effect Friday.
As Patch previously reported, the state's long expected rise in cases appears to have reached Long Island. The three-day average of Long Island's infection rate was at 1.3 percent on Oct. 26, hovering around the 1 percent mark maintained through the summer months and into the beginning of the school year. On Monday — just two weeks later — the rate leaped to 3.4 percent, with Suffolk County climbing to 3.8 percent and Nassau rising to 2.8 percent.