COVID Cases on the Rise

Alida Lissak and Noah Saivetz

As the school year closes out, positive COVID cases increase citywide and on Poly’s campus. According to the New York State website, there have been 47 positive cases at the Poly Prep Dyker Heights campus between May 13 and May 26: 33 of are students, 11 cases are from teachers, and 3 from other staff. Thirty-seven of those total cases have been reported from May 20 to May 26. Sara Siller, the interim head nurse, confirmed on May 26 that “there has been an uptick citywide and that’s being reflected at Poly,” when asked about any recent increase in positivity rates among community members. 

Earlier, in mid-May, Poly announced the school will be stopping weekly at-home Sunday testing and daily Ruvna checks. Siller also shared in an email to the Polygon that “We have discontinued school-administered contact tracing for our vaccinated population of Kindergarten – Grade 12. We will continue school-administered contact tracing for our unvaccinated population of Nursery and Pre-K Students.” Siller added, “We encourage families to continue with their own asymptomatic testing at whatever intervals is best for their family.”

When Siller was asked to comment on the school’s possible reactions to the recent surge in cases, she noted that the community should be on the lookout for updated policy. Thursday, May 26 marked the end of the “pilot period” of data collection, following the stop in weekly testing, daily Ruvna checks, and contact tracing, according to Siller. At the time this paper went to press on Friday, May 27 in the afternoon, Poly had not yet announced COVID policy adaptations in reaction to the increase in positive case reports.

Some students have been taking note of the increase. “I’ve had a couple kids out [in my classes] but not a lot,” said junior Cooper Flinn-Beane, speaking about students missing school after testing positive. “But it has impacted the way we move through material.”

Faculty have also noticed the uptick in cases. Head of the history department Maggie Moslander said on Wednesday, May 25, “Currently there are three teachers out with COVID, plus one whose child is sick and so they can’t come in.” Moslander noted that this is the first week in which there has been such a high positivity rate among members of her department since the beginning of the pandemic.

Siller noted that Poly’s plan is mostly similar to what schools across the state are doing with optional masking and flexible COVID policies. “Poly was one of the few independent schools still conducting asymptomatic testing until last week,” she wrote in mid-May. Siller noted at the time that if a newly spreading variant pops up, the school may return to some old safety measures in order to ensure the safety of everyone on campus and at home. “This includes but is not limited to weekly asymptomatic testing, daily Ruvna screening, school-administered contact tracing and mandatory masking,” wrote Siller.

In terms of the fall, many COVID policies are subject to change. “This is an extremely fluid situation and we are prepared to adjust our guidelines as necessary. It is too soon to know what that will look like in August and September, but we will always keep the Poly community informed of any changes in policy,” Siller wrote in an email to the Polygon. 

The school continues to support testing whenever families feel necessary; students can pick up an at-home test for free at the nurse’s office and should stay home and test if they do not feel well. 

Additional reporting by Selah Ilunga-Reed