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School in N. Massapequa among latest to close due to COVID-19; NY virus cases low

The Albany Avenue Elementary School in North Massapequa

The Albany Avenue Elementary School in North Massapequa closed Friday after a staff member tested positive, said Farmingdale school officials. The school is being disinfected to reopen by Tuesday. Credit: Google Maps

The Albany Avenue Elementary School in North Massapequa closed for in-person instruction on Friday after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19, said the district, among the latest to temporarily halt classroom instruction following their recent reopening from the pandemic shutdowns in March.

The district was in touch with the Nassau County Department of Health, and a contact tracing protocol was completed, Farmingdale Schools Superintendent Paul Defendini wrote in a letter to parents. Those who were exposed have been notified and are required to quarantine, Defendini added.

The Albany Avenue school is getting prepared to reopen by Tuesday with custodial staff "disinfecting all affected areas on top of its regular regimen," Defendini said. Public and many private schools are closed Monday for Yom Kippur.

School officials were notified at 7:50 a.m., Principal Joseph Valentine said in a letter to parents. He said officials could not contact trace and clean the affected areas before students arrived, so they decided to close for the day.

Most schools have managed to remain open, though some have closed temporarily or sent students home from one "cohort" or group while buildings are deep-cleaned and disinfected.

At Deer Park High School, a positive COVID-19 case of a student caused the district to close the school from Monday through Friday this week, according to notices on the Deer Park district's website from Superintendent James Cummings. The school will reopen Tuesday, he said.

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"Given the number of teachers that a high school student interacts with on a given day, or over the course of two cohort days, there is the potential for there to be 10 or more staff members, and over 100 students, who are subject to quarantine," Cummings wrote. The district found it would be "instructionally more sound" to shift from a hybrid model to a full-remote model for the week, he said.

In the Mount Sinai district, the high school, middle school and elementary school were closed Friday and expected to reopen Tuesday, according to messaging on the district's website and Facebook page.

The notices did not state the reason for the school closures, though the state's COVID-19 Report Card showed that Mount Sinai High School reported Thursday a positive case of one on-site student. Requests for information from the district were not immediately answered.

In Huntington, a student at Jefferson Primary School tested positive for the virus, prompting the district to direct that student’s cohort to stay home and shift to remote learning Friday, Huntington Schools Superintendent James Polansky wrote in a notice to families. The district notified Suffolk health officials, who began a contact tracing process, he said. The K-3 school remained open Friday, Polansky added.

NY positivity level remains low

New York State’s COVID-19 level remained low in test results released Friday, but seven establishments in Suffolk County were issued summonses for violating state laws aimed at stopping the spread of coronavirus, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said.

Statewide, 0.96% of people tested were confirmed positive for the coronavirus in test results completed Thursday. That continued a trend that has seen the state hover at a 1% or less positivity rate for weeks, though the measure was slightly above that mark Wednesday.

Of 94,818 test results, 908 were confirmed positives, the state said. The positive level was 1% on both Long Island and in New York City.

Seven people, including one in Suffolk, died of coronavirus-related causes in New York on Thursday.

"New Yorkers' ability to stay vigilant and conscientious toward their fellow citizens is critical as we continue to battle COVID-19 throughout the state. That mindset — that I wear a mask not just to protect myself, but to protect you as well — is what will get us through to the other side," Cuomo said in a statement.

However, there are now "early warning signs" of rising coronavirus rates in neighborhoods surrounding the eight ZIP codes in Queens and Brooklyn identified on Wednesday as making up 1 in 5 coronavirus cases citywide, according to a news release Friday night from the New York City health department.

In six of those ZIP codes, the health department has logged increased infection rates since the previous day, the department said in the news release. The night before, the department threatened to re-close businesses in the eight ZIP codes if progress wasn’t made by Tuesday.

"While the most expansive growth is generally occurring in these areas in Brooklyn and Queens, viruses do not respect boundaries and unchecked case growth in one part of the city can affect others," the release said, cautioning that "we are starting to see an uptick in the number of hospitalized patients in at least one hospital in southern Brooklyn."

The release also threatened $1,000 fines and closures of private schools in the eight ZIP codes that fail to mandate indoor masking and social distance and cooperate with authorities’ test and trace efforts.

State Liquor Authority agents and State Police visited 1,455 establishments in New York City and Long Island on Thursday, issuing summonses to three businesses in Queens, along with the seven on Long Island.

State officials did not immediately list the names of the businesses. Nassau and Suffolk counties have seen a steady stream of businesses receive such summonses.

Cuomo has said the vast majority of establishments have respected the laws, but a handful of "bad apples" continue to flout them.

The number of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 was 71 in Nassau, 52 in Suffolk and 371 in New York City.

"Despite the continued spread of COVID-19 nationwide, Long Island is keeping the virus at bay," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said Friday. "I'm relieved to report no deaths due to COVID-19 this week in Nassau. I’m proud of the way our residents have responded to this crisis, and I believe we’re setting a national example for reopening safely."

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday that the city is making its outdoor restaurant program — allowing the use of sidewalks, parking spots and certain roadways — permanent and year-round.

He said there would be new rules allowing heating outdoor spaces. The program was begun as a result of the pandemic.

The NYC Hospitality Alliance, which represents restaurants, bar and lounges, praised the move as a "major step."

With Matthew Chayes

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