Bethlehem Health Director stands behind hybrid learning model despite surge in cases

Written by on November 24, 2020

Bethlehem Health Director stands behind hybrid learning model despite surge in cases

By Genesis Ortega

November 24, 2020

Ina Fassbender/AFP via Getty Images

Current state guidelines say schools should move to 100% virtual instruction in counties with “substantial transmission” rates. But many Lehigh Valley schools remain open, despite meeting that standard.

But as WLVR’s Genesis Ortega reports, one area health director says there are other factors to consider when thinking about closing schools.

Listen to the story.

Lehigh and Northampton counties have reported more than 4,000 new coronavirus cases in the last two weeks — that’s a 30% spike.

While some schools have moved temporarily to 100% virtual learning as cases have cropped up, the Bethlehem Area School District remains open with its hybrid model.

City Health Director Kristen Wenrich stands behind this decision, and says the state may change its guidelines. 

“So I’ve had several conversations with the state when those guidelines were initially put out at the end of August. They never took into account what’s happening in the school setting or the size of the school building,” she said.

Wenrich says she’s not seeing spread in school settings, but will consider changing the learning model if that becomes the case. 

“We’re looking at the number of cases per student population. You know, taking into account an elementary school that may only have 200 students versus a high school that has 2,000 students – big difference there.”

Wenrich says that the hybrid schedule has allowed for reduced class sizes and for students to effectively social distance. 

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