LAKE RONKONKOMA, NY (OnSachem.com / OnTownMedia.com) — Sachem Schools is preparing for remote-only instruction if COVID-19 infection rates continue to rise—or if New York Governor Andrew Cuomo forces school buildings to close.
In a memo to the Sachem community on Friday, Sachem Central School District Superintendent Christopher J. Pellettieri wrote, “Obviously, the time has come to have this discussion and for our schools to be prepared for a transition to distance learning if forced to move in that direction either by Executive Order from the Governor or by the events around us. We will of course have this discussion in public with as much transparency as possible.”
Preparing for possible remote-only instruction will be discussed during the next Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 18, according to Pellettieri.
“We want to keep our schools open for as long as possible for in-person learning as we see the benefits for our students in class with their peers and their teachers,” Pellettieri wrote. “That being said, as always, our concern for student and staff safety will guide our decision making. All students would remain on their current teacher rosters, including the new Remote Academy.”
Sachem Schools had four new COVID-19 positive cases during the past week, Pellettieri announced. He said there was one case at Sachem High School East in Farmingville, two at Hiawatha Elementary School in Lake Ronkonkoma, and one at Waverly Elementary School in Holtsville. Anyone that met the Suffolk County Department of Health Services’ definition of a “close contact” has been contacted and will need to quarantine, according to Pellettieri.
“We ask that all remain vigilant in social distancing, mask wearing and respiratory hygiene protocols,” Pellettieri urged in his memo. “Of course, we will continue to remain vigilant keeping our buildings safe, clean, and sanitized.”
COVID-19 for Long Island and New York State
Late Saturday afternoon, Suffolk County Department of Health Services reported the latest county-wide COVID-19 testing count and infection rate as of Friday. Another 449 people tested positive for COVID-19. Out of 12,141 COVID-19 tests, 3.7% returned positive results. The 7-day average positivity rate is 3.4%.
Also on Saturday, Cuomo reported the latest results across the state. Cuomo said Long Island had a positive test rate of 3.1% on Wednesday, 3.3% on Thursday, and 3.3% on Friday.
"We are seeing a rising tide of COVID nationally and internationally,” Cuomo said. “The rate of increase is less in New York, but it is an increase. We don't have the same problem that other states have, but we're seeing an increase and the increase is continuing. We know the factors that contribute to spread, like COVID fatigue, winter, restaurants, gyms, and living room family spread.”
Could More Lockdowns or Restrictions Come Soon?
Talking about possible additional restrictions, Cuomo said, “What's going to happen? Will we shut down and will we have more restrictions? What has worked for New York from day one is it's a pure consequence of science. There's no political decision making, no ideological decision making. Look at the numbers, and if the numbers are increasing and if they're not slowing, then you have to restrict activity. Our actions today determine our positivity rate tomorrow, so follow the public health law - wear a mask and adhere to gathering limits, and localities need to do the enforcement."
The latest restrictions took effect at 10 p.m. Friday. As OnSachem News reported, bars, restaurants, and gyms or fitness centers, as well as any State Liquor Authority-licensed establishment, must close from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily. Restaurants can provide curbside food-only pickup or delivery after 10 p.m., but cannot serve alcohol to go. In addition, indoor and outdoor gatherings at private residences are limited to no more than 10 people.
More about Sachem Schools
Back to schools, rising COVID-19 cases are impacting several school districts on Long Island and across the U.S., derailing plans to reopen school buildings and forcing reopened buildings to close.
Since the school year began, Sachem had 40 “on-site” positive COVID-19 cases affecting 38 students and two teachers/staff members. There were no cases for “off-site” students or teachers/staff. The data comes from the state’s COVID-19 Report Card at https://schoolcovidreportcard.health.ny.gov.
There have been 15 at Sachem High School North in Lake Ronkonkoma, 13 positives at Sachem High School East, six positives at Seneca Middle School in Holbrook, two at Waverly Avenue Elementary School, and one positive at each of the following: Chippewa Elementary School in Holtsville, Grundy Avenue School in Holbrook, Nokomis Elementary School in Holbrook, and Sagamore Middle School in Holtsville.
A Sweet 16 party described as a “super-spreader” by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone led to a COVID-19 outbreak, forcing Sachem High School North to close and move to remote-only learning for two weeks in early October.