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Schools close in two Nassau districts due to COVID-19; six states removed from New York quarantine list

In Port Washington, a student at Paul D.

In Port Washington, a student at Paul D. Schreiber High School and another at John J. Daly Elementary School (pictured) tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting the district to close the buildings Tuesday, the district said. Credit: Howard Schnapp

This story was reported by Catherine Carrera, Matthew Chayes, Michael Gormley and Bart Jones. It was written by Jones.

At least five public schools in Nassau County were closed Tuesday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19 among students, while the state announced it is relaxing rules for visiting nursing homes.

Meanwhile, six states and one territory were removed from the list of areas from which travelers to New York must self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday, though Puerto Rico was added back.

California, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada and Ohio, as well as the Northern Mariana Islands, were taken off the state's travel advisory list because their levels of infection dropped.

Five schools in two districts — Port Washington and Oyster Bay-East Norwich — were closed Tuesday due to the COVID-19 cases.

In Port Washington, a student at Paul D. Schreiber High School and another at John J. Daly Elementary School tested positive for the virus, prompting the district to close the buildings Tuesday, according to a letter from Superintendent Michael Hynes. Students and staff from those schools were placed on remote instruction plans for the day, he said.

The Nassau County Health Department initiated a contact-tracing investigation, Hynes said, and he later announced in a letter to families that the two Port Washington schools could reopen Wednesday for regularly scheduled in-person instruction.

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"I ask that you please continue to monitor your child[ren] closely for any sign of potential illness and complete the district’s student health screening each morning prior to the start of school," Hynes said.

The high school has been operating under a hybrid plan while the elementary schools in the district were following an in-person instruction plan five days a week.

A student at each of three schools in the Oyster Bay-East Norwich district has tested positive for the virus, Superintendent Laura Seinfeld said.

Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School, James H. Vernon School and Oyster Bay High School were closed Tuesday "as a precaution," Seinfeld said in a letter. The students who tested positive were last in their school buildings on Friday, she said.

All three Oyster Bay-East Norwich schools will reopen Wednesday, Seinfeld said Tuesday afternoon in a note sent home to families.

The health department identified close contacts who will be quarantined for 14 days, Seinfeld said. Those individuals "must receive a release-from-quarantine notice from the DOH and be cleared by the COVID Coordinator before they can return to school," Seinfeld said.

Elementary and middle school students have been reporting for in-person school every day in that district, while high school students are alternating between days of remote-only and in-person instruction, according to the district’s reopening plan. On Tuesday, the students were following a remote plan, but staff members were still expected to report to school, Seinfeld said.

In light of the three cases, the district changed its protocols on the health questionnaire for students and staff, now making it a requirement for families to complete daily, the superintendent said. The change will enable the district to "quickly identify others who might have been exposed if someone has symptoms," Seinfeld said.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said her administration is "closely monitoring all cases and exposures that might impact our school districts."

"We anticipated and prepared for the possibility that there might be an uptick in disease activity as schools reopened," she added. "Our Department of Health, along with our army of contact tracers, have worked diligently to prevent and contain possible spread. Residents are reminded to answer any calls from a contact tracer and cooperate with their requests."

At least five other public schools across Long Island reported positive cases of the virus Monday among students and staff members.

NY easing visit rules on nursing homes

New York State on Tuesday said visits can take place at nursing homes if the facility has gone at least 14 days without a case of COVID-19, down from a threshold of 28 days.

The change means visits will be permitted in about 500 of the state's 613 nursing homes, state officials said. The guidelines go into effect Thursday.

"We understand how trying it has been for New Yorkers to not see their loved ones and the challenges they've had to endure during this unprecedented pandemic," New York Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said in a statement.

"The number of nursing homes that have taken the necessary steps to protect residents from the asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 while working to reopen to outside visitors, shows that adhering to the DOH visitation guideline is the smart and cautious approach to allowing visitations," he added.

Zucker said the department will continue "to be guided by science and concern for residents' welfare" as it monitors the policy change.

Visitors will be required to present a verified negative test result within the last seven days and they will be refused entry if they exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms, do not present the negative test result, or do not pass a screening test, the state said.

The number of visitors cannot exceed 10% of the resident census at any given time, officials said, and only two visitors will be permitted per resident at any time.

Trick or treating, despite COVID-19

As the school year kicks off the unofficial start of the fall season, Cuomo announced Tuesday that Halloween is still on in New York, despite the virus.

"I would not ban trick-or-treaters going door to door," Cuomo said as some states and municipalities consider bans and limits to Halloween this year.

"I don't think that's appropriate," Cuomo told News 12 Long Island in an interview provided by the governor’s office. "You have neighbors — if you want to go knock on your neighbor's door, God bless you and I can’t tell you not to. If you want to go for a walk with your child through the neighborhood, I'm not going to tell you [that you] can't take your child to the neighborhood. I'm not going to do that. I'll give you my advice and guidance and then you will make a decision what you do that night."

The state’s level of COVID-19 positive tests reached 1% on Monday, after more than a month tracking below that level, Cuomo said Tuesday.

Out of 73,678 COVID-19 tests completed statewide Monday, 766 were confirmed positive, according to state data released Tuesday. The positives included 77 in Nassau County, 71 in Suffolk County, and 306 in New York City.

The infection level on Long Island was 1.2% and in New York City, 1.1%.

Statewide, 11 people died of COVID-19-related causes on Monday, including one in Nassau and one in Suffolk.

State Liquor Authority agents and state troopers inspected 1,109 establishments on Monday on Long Island and in New York City, and issued summonses to five of them for violating state mandates aimed at curbing the virus's spread. Four of the businesses are in Suffolk County.

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New York’s travelers’ quarantine list

Travelers in New York State’s “travel advisory” list, due to community spread of the COVID-19 virus, are required to quarantine for 14 days. The quarantine applies to any person arriving from an area with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average, or an area with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average. The following is the updated list of states and other jurisdictions whose travelers face those restrictions in New York as of Sept. 15:

Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

SOURCE: New York Governor’s Office

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