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W.T. Clarke High School student tests positive for COVID-19, superintendent says

W.T. Clarke High School.

W.T. Clarke High School. Credit: Google Maps

A student who attended in-person classes this week at W.T. Clarke High School in Westbury has tested positive for COVID-19, county and school officials said Thursday.

Students at the high school, part of the East Meadow school system, began taking classes Tuesday under a hybrid model. Those in grades six and up are split into two groups that alternate with in-person instruction two days a week, either Mondays and Tuesdays or Thursdays and Fridays.

East Meadow joins a growing list of at least eight Long Island districts with reported positive cases of staff or students in the days leading up to and since the start of the 2020-21 school year. The other districts are Bellmore-Merrick, Carle Place, Islip, Riverhead, Sewanhaka, Smithtown and Southold.

"We closed off all areas of the building that the individual used and thoroughly cleaned and disinfected those spaces," Superintendent Kenneth Card said in a second letter to the school community Thursday afternoon. The initial letter stated the case, which was based on a rapid test, had not yet been confirmed. The second letter stated the positive result was valid.

“Based on the current science, we treat all positive COVID-19 tests — whether they were rapid or through a laboratory — as real," said Jordan Carmon, spokesman for Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. "The county has made clear that health and safety protocols must be followed following any positive test. The East Meadow school district appropriately communicated with the NCDOH and took the proper actions regarding this confirmed case."

Individuals who had direct contact with the student without following safety protocols, such as social distancing or wearing a mask, are required to quarantine, Card wrote.

The student who tested positive will not be permitted to return to school for at least 14 days, he said.

The district's protocol for confirmed positive cases states, "If the student or staff member had entered a building, the building will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before students and staff are permitted to return. The district may call for the building to be closed for two to three days."

There is no change to school instruction or reporting to school, per the county health department, Card said.

East Meadow district students at the middle and high school levels are assigned to Group A or B for hybrid learning. In-person instruction for Group A is on Mondays and Tuesdays, and for Group B on Thursdays and Fridays. Those groups alternate in-person instruction on Wednesdays.

Students in grades 3-5 are following a similar hybrid schedule until Oct. 5, when the district anticipates a full return to school for those grades. Meanwhile, kindergartners, first- and second-graders are reporting to school five days a week.

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