Newfield HS parents: Miscommunication led to dozens of students coming to school who should've stayed home
Suffolk's health commissioner says a technical error contributed to a mix-up of students who were supposed to stay home Thursday and quarantine but instead came to school.
Upset parents have told News 12 that at least 80 students were put in the cafeteria at Newfield High School Thursday morning until someone could pick them up.
The parents say they were told by school officials that their children shouldn't have been in school to begin with and instead should have been quarantining.
The school superintendent sent out a letter to parents Tuesday informing them that a student and a teacher had tested positive for COVID-19. She went on to say that the district was working with the Suffolk County Health Department, and that it would determine close contacts of the individuals, contact them and give appropriate orders.
A spokesperson for the Middle Country Central School District says the Department of Health issued them a list of those who were to be quarantining, but that it was under the assumption that the Department of Health had already contacted those people.
The letter went out Tuesday and Wednesday was a remote learning day for all, so it wasn't until a few hours into the school day Thursday that school officials realized that students were in the halls who apparently weren't supposed to be.
Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott responded later in the day, saying a technical error caused a delay in the notification process. He said contact tracing efforts began after notification of two cases Sept. 12. He went on to say, "The Suffolk County Department of Health Services is working with the New York State Department of Health to implement new protocols to ensure this does not happen again."
A statement from the district says, "Middle Country School District has been in regular contact with the Suffolk County Department of Health (SCDOH) in adherence with our district protocol. Earlier this week, SCDOH initiated and concluded a contact tracing investigation related to a positive coronavirus case at Newfield High School...
...Based on the information we received, and as stated in our communication sent out on September 15, the SCDOH was notifying Newfield students they identified necessary to quarantine. However, these students did not receive that SCDOH notification in a timely manner. As a result of this, our district has enhanced our communication process on how students and their parents will be informed of a mandated quarantine moving forward. Effective immediately, parents of students who are deemed as a close contact or who are issued a quarantine mandate will receive a communication from the building principal with guidance issued from the SCDOH."