Newburgh teacher voices health concerns with hybrid learning set to start in October

A Newburgh school teacher expressed concern about COVID-19 Monday with hybrid learning set to start next month.

Janiana Barham-Middleton is a special-education teacher at Newburgh Free Academy. Barham-Middleton says the student population at the school is largely Latino and African American–two groups with the highest rate of infection in New York and nationwide.

“This has hit their communities so incredibly hard,” says Barham-Middleton. “There are families–whole families–that have been lost as a result of this.”

Barham-Middleton says there are other staff members who are also worried about returning to in-person instruction.

So far, four school districts in Orange County have reported positive COVID-19 cases. Valley Central is the latest district to report a positive case. The county is also reporting a slight uptick in its infection rate.

Barham-Middlton is urging the Newburgh School District to consider remote learning instead of hybrid.

“Teaching virtually as crazy and stressful as it is might save tons of lives,” says Barham-Middleton.

State law requires schools to close to in-person instruction if the regional infection rate rises above 9%. The mid-Hudson region infection rate is currently at 1.6%.

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