The Newburgh area has continued to stay in the yellow micro-cluster zone, despite it continuing to near orange zone numbers. As of Monday, December 7, Orange County has 18,354 positive cases, which is up 514 since Friday. There were also four deaths over the weekend. The City of Newburgh has 140 active cases and New Windsor has 153 active cases as of December 7.
In November, the Newburgh Enlarged City School District made the decision before even entering the yellow zone, at the recommendation of the Orange County Commissioner of Health, to go remote in order to help prevent further spread of the virus.
With the school district being remote from November 30 into January, the Board of Education began discussing what its long term plan will look like. With the hopes to reopen in January, they are preparing for what it will look like to distribute COVID-19 testing right at the school.
To keep schools open while in a yellow zone, schools must test 20 percent of in-person students, faculty and staff over a two week period. However, because the Newburgh Enlarged City School District is now remote, they don’t need to require testing until January 19 if they are still in the zones.
The district has been made available to a rapid test made specifically for schools – the BinaxNow Rapid Test. Superintendent Roberto Padilla described it as “rapid, reliable, affordable and portable,” during the November 24 board meeting.
“Because testing is new, I want to draw attention to this rapid test that many districts across the state have either begun using or are considering to use,” said Padilla. “As a result of being in the yellow zone, these tests would be free.”
Right now, they are collaborating with other districts, visiting other test sites, and are engaging in training modules to prepare for testing to begin. The 15-minute test would be able to give a clear result. Padilla suggested that the school board does a demonstration video for the community when the time comes.
“This is the test that would be free and districts would be using,” said Padilla. “It’s not as reliable as going and taking a test in a lab.”
Additionally, a group of important stakeholders in the athletic department were meeting to vote on schedule adjustments for winter sports to push them to January, which was originally scheduled to start on November 30 for low risk sports.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the district’s Newburgh School Meals program has distributed food to those in need. By the end of their weekly distribution on Wednesday, December 2, they passed the one million meal mark, with a total of 1,022,526. In addition, they have distributed 21,360 snacks, which are the latest addition to the program. In total, they distributed 13,950 pounds of apples, 4,650 pounds of carrots, and 3,983 gallons of milk in the meal kits.
The distributions occur every Wednesday at six locations throughout the three municipalities that encompass the school district. The meal kits are available for any child 18 and under.
“Our entire district has reacted quickly to serve and support our scholars and their families. The Food Services Department did not skip a beat to continue to offer nutritious meals to our scholars to support their learning and provide a sense of familiarity and normalcy during this unique time,” said Padilla. “I am proud and humbled to partner with so many individuals who have shown their unwavering commitment to our scholars and our community.”