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Wantagh High School closed after COVID-19 cases; state tracks higher positivity

This story was reported by Bart Jones, David Reich-Hale and Joie Tyrrell. It was written by Jones.

After placing its senior class on remote learning last week, the entire Wantagh High School is going on virtual learning this week because COVID-19 cases continue to crop up, district officials said Tuesday.

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All after-school and athletic activities also are canceled for the week after nine students tested positive for the virus, said Wantagh Schools Superintendent John C. McNamara. Those activities will remain suspended until students return for in-person learning.

The district will host free virus testing for all high school students at designated times Wednesday and Thursday, McNamara said in a note posted on its website, while lamenting the delay in returning to classroom instruction.

“Up until last week, we were on an excellent path to further open-up our secondary schools. It is unfortunate that this latest outbreak has delayed this effort,” McNamara said in his latest note.

Late last month, the senior class at Wantagh High School was forced into remote learning because of an outbreak of COVID-19. Fifteen students, including 13 seniors, who had appeared to be directly connected to a social gathering had tested positive for the virus, McNamara said at the time.

“I implore you over the coming weeks to please use this time to help us reduce the number of cases that we are seeing,” McNamara’s note continued, “by practicing social distancing, mask wearing and regular hand washing. Please do not host social gatherings, as they have clearly been the source of this outbreak.”

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The note from McNamara also said that students do not have preregister for the rapid testing, which will take place at Wantagh High School. All of the district’s other schools remain open for in-person instruction.

Slight uptick in virus positivity

Meanwhile, positivity levels in testing for COVID-19 showed a slight uptick statewide and on Long Island, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday.

The statewide seven-day average of new positives was tracked at 3.09%, having registered at 3.08% the previous day. The daily positivity level from statewide test results Monday was substantially higher, at 4.53%.

State officials did not immediately offer an explanation for the rise in daily positivity, though new variants of COVID-19 have emerged throughout New York, including on Long Island. Researchers continue to study whether these variants spread more easily, cause more severe disease or affect the effectiveness of existing vaccines.

On Long Island, the seven-day average increased to 4.02% from 3.98% the previous day.

“New Yorkers have shown grit, determination and dedication over the past year and while progress has been made and there are vaccines going in arms every day, we need to remain steadfast in defeating this beast,” Cuomo said in a statement.

The number of new confirmed cases was 582 in Nassau County, 498 in Suffolk County, and 3,117 in New York City.

Hospitalizations statewide increased by 62 patients, to a total of 5,369.

Northwell Health on Tuesday said the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients at the 19 hospitals it owns and operates in the region has dipped to 916, down from 984 a week ago.

The largest health system in the state said the number of COVID-19 patients has also dropped at Long Island facilities. Northwell said it has 456 coronavirus patients at Long Island hospitals, down from 484 a week ago.

At the height of the pandemic last April, Northwell reported more than 3,400 hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

Check back for updates on this developing story. Sign up for COVID-19 text alerts at

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