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3 confirmed COVID-19 cases in NASD

Two weeks after the 2020-21 school year reopening, a third confirmed case of COVID-19 has been reported in Northampton Area School District.

NASD Superintendent of Schools Joseph S. Kovalchik announced the district’s third confirmed case at the Sept. 14 NASD Board of Education meeting.

Kovalchik informed parents and guardians Sept. 10 about two confirmed cases, one at Northampton Area Middle School and one at Northampton Area High School.

In both cases, the affected students last attended in-person classes Sept. 2. The letter reported the schools are staying open at this time.

A Sept. 14 email, a copy of which was posted on the district website, discussed a third COVID-19 case in NASD, this one also at the high school. The letter to NAHS parents and guardians announced the district was notified earlier that day of a confirmed case of coronavirus at NAHS.

After Kovalchik announced the district’s third confirmed case of COVID-19 at the Sept. 14 board meeting, there were no comments from the people in the audience.

After the meeting, Kovalchik said the third person who had tested positive for COVID-19 had not felt well at home and didn’t attend class in person Sept. 9. The person was tested that day, and NASD received the test results Sept. 14. The person is self-quarantining for 14 days, starting Sept. 9.

“The classrooms and spaces used by the individual were cleaned and disinfected according to CDC guidelines,” noted the letters sent to parents Sept. 10 and 14. “Staff members and students who may have come into close contact (any individual within 6 feet of an infected individual for at least 15 minutes) with the individual will be directly contacted by their local health department with instructions to self-quarantine.”

“Anytime there’s a case, we consult with the department of health,” Kovalchik said.

He noted everyone has been very professional in handling the situation.

“We’ve been doing what’s required for the health and safety protocol,” Kovalchik said. “Every morning, we ask parents to check for symptoms. Parents have been very responsible.”

Other Lehigh Valley school districts reporting confirmed cases of coronavirus include Whitehall-Coplay, Parkland, Southern Lehigh and Bethlehem Area.

“We were dealing with COVID cases, including staff,” said school Director Dr. Michael Baird, chairman of Colonial Intermediate Unit 20 board of directors. “It happens. It’s happening throughout the Valley.”

“The vo-tech has had its issues with COVID-19,” reported board President David Gogel, the district representative to Bethlehem Area Vocational-Technical School.

After being closed for in-person classroom instruction March 13 because of the coronavirus pandemic shutdown, NASD reopened with a hybrid education model Aug. 31 - students are at home Mondays and attend in-person classes either Tuesdays and Thursdays or Wednesdays and Fridays.

“All in all, I’m very pleased with how things are going in a very unusual situation,” Kovalchik told school directors.

“I’d like to thank the staff at Lehigh Elementary School,” said school Director John Becker, who has a grandchild enrolled there.

“My prayers and thanks go out to the administrators, teachers, teachers’ aides, secretaries, cafeteria workers, security officers and bus drivers in the school district, the Lehigh Valley and throughout the state and country,” school board Vice President Chuck Frantz said.

Of the 5,500 NASD students, 25 percent, or nearly 1,400 students, participate in Kids eLearning and 100 students participate in Northampton Cyber Academy, according to Kovalchik.

Enrolled in Bethlehem Area Vocational-Technical School are 300 NASD students, Kovalchik added.

It was also announced at the meeting the NASD Konkrete Kids football and basketball games will be livestreamed. The livestreaming of games in the Al Erdosy Stadium and Pete Schneider Memorial Gym is expected to begin in October.

The board of education voted unanimously 9-0 to approve a five-year contract between National Federation of State High School Associations and NASD to livestream the varsity athletic events.

The subscription fee is $10.99 per month or $69 per year. The livestreaming will not preclude cable TV telecasts of games.

NASD students will assist with the livestreaming production.

“It’s going to be part of our curriculum,” Kovalchik said.

The cost of the livestreaming equipment is underwritten by St. Luke’s University Health Network.

The NASD board next meets 6:30 p.m. Sept. 28 at NAMS, 1617 Laubach Ave.