High School Parties Lead To Covid-19 Outbreak

Secondary School moves to remote learning from Feb. 22 to at least Feb. 26

Despite precautions and safety measures taken, the Manhasset school district has had at least 145 students and 42 teachers/staff test positive for COVID-19 since the start of the school year on Sept. 8, 2020. (Illustration at Cathy Bongiorno)

On Tuesday, Feb. 16, Manhasset School District Superintendent Vincent Butera announced that the Manhasset Secondary School will be going to remote instruction the week of Feb. 22 to at least Feb. 26 after 38 students tested positive for COVID-19. The Nassau County Department of Health notified the school district of parties and social gatherings that resulted in super spreader events. By Friday, Feb. 19, 12 more Secondary School students tested positive bringing the total to 50.

Four other students and one staff member at Munsey Park Elementary School have also tested positive. Shelter Rock Elementary School has no positive cases as of publication.

“These disconcerting actions by members of our community continue to put our entire school community at risk and cause a heightened sense of fear and anxiety,” Butera said in a statement to families. “As we have communicated in the past, events like these impact the entire community resulting in potentially serious illness for students, their families, and our faculty and staff. In addition to the suspension of onsite learning, as well as the cancelation of athletic events and extracurricular activities at the Secondary School, these actions necessitate that we pause discussions regarding returning more students to full-time learning until we can assess the exponential impact of these actions.”

All extracurricular activities were canceled at the Secondary School, including athletics through Feb. 26. This action ends the winter sports season that just began at the beginning of February and was scheduled to finish Feb. 26.

On Sunday, Feb. 7, two boys basketball players found out they were exposed to COVID-19. They quarantined from the team and got tested the next day, testing negative, but later testing positive. After their 75-48 win against Valley Stream North on Monday, Feb. 15, Valley Stream North notified Manhasset officials that one of their players had tested positive for COVID-19. The Manhasset School District would announce the next day that their season was effectively over.

“It was an attempt to give these guys a season and we gave it a shot,” boys basketball Head Coach George Bruns said after finishing the season 3-0.

The school district provided testing on Sunday, Feb. 21 to any student in the district that wants to get a test The school district was on their usual week-long February break when the announcement was made to move to remote learning on Feb. 22.

“All identified cases are in isolation and their close contacts have been quarantined by the Department of Health,” Butera said in a statement. “Many of the students who have tested positive have been asymptomatic causing a false sense of security. If your child attended a party/gathering, or has been in contact with someone who attended a party/gathering over the past ten days, it is imperative that you contact your health care provider regarding testing and that they quarantine immediately—so as to limit the spread of COVID-19.”

This is the second time the school district has made the Secondary School switch to full remote learning, the first being in January.

“We are closing the Secondary School with the intention of slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our school community,” Butera said. “During this time, we stress the importance of limiting contacts you and your children have with others outside of your household.”

An interview request with Butera was declined by the school district, stating that administration officials would not be available for comment.

The Manhasset SCA responded “no comment” when asked to comment on the COVID-19 outbreak and what their message was to parents.

“COVID-19 remains a serious threat to the safety and wellbeing of all our residents. It is important to wear a mask, social distance, and avoid group gatherings,” Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth, Councilmembers Veronica Lurvey and Mariann Dalimonte said in a joint statement.


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