The Newburgh Enlarged City School District held a virtual town hall meeting on Wednesday, January 5 for parents and guardians to learn about the return to a hybrid model for the end of January, which will include testing and another opportunity for parents to opt-in students for in-person instruction.
Superintendent Roberto Padilla kicked off the meeting, where over 800 people were watching live. On the call was Andrew Regenbaum who is the COVID-19 Coordinator at Horizon Family Medical Group, who has partnered with the district to conduct testing. Together they described the process of what it will be like to begin testing, which is mandated to keep schools in the yellow zone open.
The New York State mandate requires that 20 percent of students and 20 percent of faculty and staff are tested over a two-week period. However, students who are tested must sign a consent form to allow the test to happen and for the results to be shared with the school. The students who signed a consent form will be chosen at random for a test. Testing will be administered by professionals from the Horizon Family Medical Group at school during school hours.
Padilla said he feels“hopeful” about finding enough people to get tested to meet the 20 percent threshold and “confident” that the positivity rate won’t be high enough to close the school. If a student does not wish to get tested, they are still allowed to opt-in for in person learning. However, if the school does not meet the state’s requirements, no in-person teaching is allowed.
Those who are continuing with a fully remote schedule do not need to participate in testing at all. Students who attend Balmville and Fostertown do not need to participate in the testing either due to not being in the designated yellow zone.
Padilla played a video of what COVID-19 testing will be like for students, staff and faculty. It is a rapid test from BinaxNow, a test made specifically for school districts. Regenbaum described it as being “relatively accurate” and it is more accurate for symptomatic people compared to asymptomatic. He stated that a lab test is more accurate overall.
Additionally, Padilla encouraged parents to opt their children into in-person learning, especially for students who might be struggling with remote instruction. If a parent absolutely does not feel comfortable with doing that, teachers are offering after-school and Saturday extra help. Depending on how many more students opt-in for the spring, parents might be able to have their children do in-person learning four days a week, instead of the two. Students who might not continue onto the next grade level because they are failing will be notified later on in the spring.
Heading into the spring, all students K through 12 will have, for the first time since the pandemic, the opportunity for in-person teaching. As students return on January 19, grades 8 through 12 will be added into the mix.
The January regents have also been canceled, with June not decided on yet. The week will now be used as regular academic time.
All other safety precautions will continue like disinfecting the building, requiring a mask and keeping a safe distance from one another. If community members have specific questions, email email@example.com.