Photo: Adobe Stock image

The COVID-19 test positivity rate among Suffolk’s school-age children was much higher than the test positivity rate in the population at large during the first month of school, an analysis of data published by the State Department of Health shows.

Since the beginning of the school year, 2,818 Suffolk children ages 5-17 have tested positive for COVID-19 — a 7.2% test positivity rate for 39,170 tests since Sept. 1. That is more than 67% higher than the 4.3% average test positivity rate in Suffolk overall since Sept. 1. The county had 14,652 positive cases out of 352,361 tests reported Sept. 1- Oct.1.

The New York State Department of Health on a daily basis reports lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in children ages 5-17, broken down by school district of residence. Since Sept. 1, the majority of Suffolk’s 69 public school districts had test positivity rates for children 5-17 higher than the countywide rate for all test results, the data show.

>>> See Sept. 1-Oct. 1 data for all Suffolk school districts

Many of the school districts — including Riverhead — had test percent-positive rates higher than the countywide rate by a wide margin. For example, there were 51 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases among children 5-17 residing in the Riverhead Central School District between Sept. 1 and Oct. 1. The 51 positives out of 767 tests reported represent a test percent-positive rate of 6.7%.

School-age children residing in most other East End school districts had test positivity rates lower than the countywide rate from Sept. 1 through Oct. 1.

But children residing in many school districts in the five western towns of Suffolk County tested positive at a significantly higher rate than the general population during the same period.

Five to 17-year-old residents in the Islip school district had a 14.9% test positivity rate — the highest in the county — with 74 positives out of 497 tests reported by the state. (Editor’s note: Children residing in New Suffolk Common School District had two positive tests out of 10 reported, resulting in a 20% test positivity rate in the tiny East End district, where the entire student enrollment numbers just 10 children.)

Second-highest in Suffolk were school-age children residing in the William Floyd school district, where there was a 13.2% test positivity rate — 228 positives out of 1,731 tests administered.

Children residing in the Shoreham-Wading River district (which straddles both Brookhaven and Riverhead towns) had a test positivity rate of 11.8% in the past month.

Children who live in three other school districts also had test positivity rates of more than 10%: West Islip, 10.8%; Hauppauge, 10.5%; and Miller Place, 10.4%.

Test positivity rates of 5% to 9.9% were reported for children 5-17 living in 35 other school districts — including the East End districts of Hampton Bays (9%), Remsenburg-Speonk (9%) and Southold (6.8%).

The lab-confirmed positives do not necessarily reflect confirmed cases in children enrolled in the school district for which the data is reported. The numbers, based on residency, include children who attend schools outside the district, including private, parochial and charter schools, as well as children not enrolled in a K-12 school.

School districts are required to report their own test results to the state health department, which in turn reports those to the public separately from the lab-confirmed positives of 5 to 17 year olds residing within the district’s boundaries. The school district test reporting requirement went into effect Sept. 13. Since that date, the Riverhead Central School District has reported 36 positive test results among students, faculty and staff across the district. The district’s COVID case data can be accessed here.

More than 28,000 children ages 5-17 in New York have tested positive for COVID-19 since the beginning of the school year, according to state data.

The Long Island region is second only to New York City in the number of confirmed cases in children since Sept. 1, with 4,927 positive tests in kids ages 5-17, the data show. The five boroughs of New York City had 7,703 total positives in that age group.

>>See COVID-19 case and fatality numbers

According to the CDC, 55% of adolescents 12-17 in New York are fully vaccinated. Data on adolescent vaccinations by county was not published. Children under age 12 are not yet eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. There are more than 205,000 children under age 12 in Suffolk.

The survival of local journalism depends on your support.
We are a small family-owned operation. You rely on us to stay informed, and we depend on you to make our work possible. Just a few dollars can help us continue to bring this important service to our community.
Support RiverheadLOCAL today.

Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.