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NASD decides to continue with hybrid system of instruction

The hybrid system of education will continue in Northampton Area School District.

“After careful consideration, discussion with superintendents of school districts in Northampton County and sharing this information with the board of education, we will maintain our current instructional model until further notice,” NASD Superintendent of Schools Joseph S. Kovalchik said in a Nov. 12 letter to parents, guardians and staff. “This means that Northampton Area School District will continue to operate in a hybrid model of face-to-face instruction for those who have selected that option, as long as conditions in our schools and community remain safe for students and staff.

“However, conditions are constantly changing and may require a school or the district to move to fully remote instruction, either in the short or long term. We encourage everyone to have contingency plans for such an event,” Kovalchik said.

In the hybrid system, students attend classes in person two days and remotely three days.

As of Nov. 17, NASD has reported coronavirus cases total 42 for the academic year.

Kovalchik’s letter continued: “COVID-19 cases in our community are higher over the last few weeks and have gotten to levels we haven’t seen in Northampton County since the pandemic began. However, we can say the following with confidence so far.”

Kovalchik noted less than 1 percent of the school population has tested positive since the Aug. 31 opening of the school year.

“There is no existing evidence indicating that in-person schooling contributes to spread in the community,” Kovalchik said. “When a school’s health and safety plan is followed, we have not seen any evidence of in-school spread, either to other students or staff.

“Cases brought to school have been traced to exposure outside of school, most commonly household contacts and social gatherings, situations where the involved cases were not masking appropriately,” the letter stated.

Kovalchik’s letter referred to Pennsylvania Department of Education and Pennsylvania Department of Health updates to “the metrics that are used to determine the level of community transmission in Northampton County. The incident rate per 100,000 residents over the previous seven days is 138 (substantial) and PCR percent positive metric is 6.5 (moderate) continued to categorize Northampton County’s level of community spread as substantial.”