Noticias

New Mexico delays in-person learning until at least Labor Day

Click here to view original web page at www.santafenewmexican.com


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Christy Krenek, an eighth grade science teacher, helps Bobby Montoya on the first day of classes last year at Milagro Middle School. New Mexico public schools will not reopen for in-person learning before Labor Day, the governor announced Thursday.
NMCOVID-8
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday announced the upcoming school year will begin with most public school students receiving instruction online.

New Mexico public school students will not be going back to their campuses until at least the second week of September as state officials continue to grapple with a rise in COVID-19 infection rates.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Thursday that to protect the health of both students and school employees, the upcoming school year will begin much as the last school year ended — with students receiving instruction online.

With only a few exceptions, students will not set foot in schools until at least the day following the Labor Day weekend.

“I know this is a really hard decision,” Lujan Grisham said in a news conference on her Facebook page. “There are going to be parents concerned about child care. We’re working on it.

“We want to create a proven [health] environment so they know they are safe,” she said.

The announcement came as the state announced its highest-ever single-day caseload — 343 — since the pandemic began in New Mexico in March. As of Thursday, 18,163 New Mexicans had tested positive for COVID-19. In addition, the state reported five more deaths, bringing its total to 596.

Also in the news conference:

  • State officials reported New Mexico’s rolling seven-day average of cases is 256 — a 123 percent increase over the past five weeks.

“The main thing driving the growth … is more people are spending more time outside their homes with other people,” Human Services Secretary David Scrase said.

The statewide transmission rate is now 1.03, Scrase said, lower than New Mexico’s goal of 1.05. Still, anything above 1 means the virus is continuing to spread and cases are increasing rather than declining.

  • Lujan Grisham acknowledged some law enforcement officers have chosen not to enforce some public health orders.

“I’m incredibly disappointed” some local officers have chosen not enforce the restrictions, she said, adding it’s unfortunate that the issue has become politicized.

“We’re getting many complaints, and we’re going out,” Lujan Grisham said. “We are citing. We are closing.”

She said sheriffs who post photos of themselves eating at restaurants “should expect to be cited as such.”

Most New Mexico schools had made plans to open by mid-August — with some districts planning for a hybrid opening that employed in-classroom and online methods and some going entirely online through September and beyond.

The governor said that if the COVID spread lessens by Labor Day, schools may slowly begin bringing students back to school, beginning with those in grades K-5.

Some exceptions might be made for in-school learning, the governor said.

Schools may teach students with special needs in small groups or one-on-one settings. They also may teach small groups — no more than five students per teacher — of K-3 students in person.

Meanwhile, public school districts and charter schools must come up with an online-only option for learning, the governor said. And no district or charter school may unenroll a student who wants to take part in an online-only learning program.

Likewise, the state’s colleges are planning for a deployment of online learning programs, with the exception of a few in-class programs that are necessary, the governor said.

For many superintendents, the governor’s announcement will make little difference in their plans, as some had already planned to begin the semester online.

Santa Fe Pubic Schools’ Superintendent Veronica García said the governor’s plan “does not impact us.”

The district had decided earlier this month it would start school later than usual, on Aug. 20, and keep its students home for at least nine weeks. Then, schools would slowly bring them into school in small increments, eventually increasing them in ratios of 20 percent while maintaining a system of hybrid learning.

García said Santa Fe will proceed as planned.

“Our plan is a little bit different from the state’s,” she said.

Sondra Adams, superintendent of the Pojoaque Valley school district, said her school board voted this week to go fully online through December. She said district leaders began planning in March to offer both online and in-school learning programs.

“The administrators were fully prepared for either scenario,” she said. The governor’s decision will “focus what we’re going to do … now we know exactly what to do.”

Superintendent Martin Madrid of the Santa Rosa school district echoed that thought, noting that since his district was already planning to start school fully online, the governor’s decision “made it a little easier for us.”

Still, not everyone was happy with the news. Mike Hyatt, superintendent of Gallup-McKinley County Schools, said the governor’s news “changes everything.”

The district serves an area of the state devastated this spring and summer by COVID-19. Hyatt said he was planning to give parents the option of sending their kids to school part time or keeping them home for all-remote learning.

Given the unpredictability of the situation, he said, “I’m sure things will change again. It makes it very difficult for planning. It really makes it difficult for families. … Parents were going to have a choice, and now they don’t have a choice.”

Though more school districts are adapting to using the internet as a teaching device, online learning remains fraught with problems. According to a Legislative Finance Committee report issued in June, half of New Mexico’s students became disengaged following the state’s shift to online classes at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March.

As a result, many schoolchildren lost three months to a year’s worth of instruction.

Adams, Madrid and Hyatt each said internet connectivity is an issue for their districts and that they are working on addressing that challenge.

“That’s one of the things the state has dropped the ball on, in terms of ensuring students have access to the internet,” Hyatt said. “Online education will never replace in-person, and it’s even worse for students who can’t even get online to participate.”

Staff reporter Jens Gould and assistant city editor Tony Raap contributed to this story.

Santa Fe-area private schools still planning return to classrooms
Santa Fe-area private schools still planning return to classrooms

Christy Krenek, an eighth grade science teacher, helps Bobby Montoya on the first day of classes last year at Milagro Middle School. New Mexico public schools will not reopen for in-person learning before Labor Day, the governor announced Thursday. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday announced the upcoming school year will begin with most public school students receiving instruction online. N ew Mexico public school students will not be going back to their campuses until at least the second week of September as state officials continue to grapple with a rise in COVID-19 infection rates.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Thursday that to protect the health of both students and school employees, the upcoming school year will begin much as the last school year ended — with students receiving instruction online.

With only a few exceptions, students will not set foot in schools until at least the day following the Labor Day weekend.

“I know this is a really hard decision,” Lujan Grisham said in a news conference on her Facebook page. “There are going to be parents concerned about child care. We’re working on it.

“We want to create a proven [health] environment so they know they are safe,” she said.

The announcement came as the state announced its highest-ever single-day caseload — 343 — since the pandemic began in New Mexico in March. As of Thursday, 18,163 New Mexicans had tested positive for COVID-19. In addition, the state reported five more deaths, bringing its total to 596.

Also in the news conference: State officials reported New Mexico’s rolling seven-day average of cases is 256 — a 123 percent increase over the past five weeks.

“The main thing driving the growth … is more people are spending more time outside their homes with other people,” Human Services Secretary David Scrase said.

The statewide transmission rate is now 1.03, Scrase said, lower than New Mexico’s goal of 1.05. Still, anything above 1 means the virus is continuing to spread and cases are increasing rather than declining. Lujan Grisham acknowledged some law enforcement officers have chosen not to enforce some public health orders.

“I’m incredibly disappointed” some local officers have chosen not enforce the restrictions, she said, adding it’s unfortunate that the issue has become politicized.

“We’re getting many complaints, and we’re going out,” Lujan Grisham said. “We are citing. We are closing.”

She said sheriffs who post photos of themselves eating at restaurants “should expect to be cited as such.”

Most New Mexico schools had made plans to open by mid-August — with some districts planning for a hybrid opening that employed in-classroom and online methods and some going entirely online through September and beyond.

The governor said that if the COVID spread lessens by Labor Day, schools may slowly begin bringing students back to school, beginning with those in grades K-5.

Some exceptions might be made for in-school learning, the governor said.

Schools may teach students with special needs in small groups or one-on-one settings. They also may teach small groups — no more than five students per teacher — of K-3 students in person.

Meanwhile, public school districts and charter schools must come up with an online-only option for learning, the governor said. And no district or charter school may unenroll a student who wants to take part in an online-only learning program.

Likewise, the state’s colleges are planning for a deployment of online learning programs, with the exception of a few in-class programs that are necessary, the governor said.

For many superintendents, the governor’s announcement will make little difference in their plans, as some had already planned to begin the semester online.

Santa Fe Pubic Schools’ Superintendent Veronica García said the governor’s plan “does not impact us.”

The district had decided earlier this month it would start school later than usual, on Aug. 20, and keep its students home for at least nine weeks. Then, schools would slowly bring them into school in small increments, eventually increasing them in ratios of 20 percent while maintaining a system of hybrid learning.

García said Santa Fe will proceed as planned.

“Our plan is a little bit different from the state’s,” she said.

Sondra Adams, superintendent of the Pojoaque Valley school district, said her school board voted this week to go fully online through December. She said district leaders began planning in March to offer both online and in-school learning programs.

“The administrators were fully prepared for either scenario,” she said. The governor’s decision will “focus what we’re going to do … now we know exactly what to do.”Superintendent Martin Madrid of the Santa Rosa school district echoed that thought, noting that since his district was already planning to start school fully online, the governor’s decision “made it a little easier for us.”Still, not everyone was happy with the news. Mike Hyatt, superintendent of Gallup-McKinley County Schools, said the governor’s news “changes everything.”The district serves an area of the state devastated this spring and summer by COVID-19. Hyatt said he was planning to give parents the option of sending their kids to school part time or keeping them home for all-remote learning.Given the unpredictability of the situation, he said, “I’m sure things will change again. It makes it very difficult for planning. It really makes it difficult for families. … Parents were going to have a choice, and now they don’t have a choice.”Though more school districts are adapting to using the internet as a teaching device, online learning remains fraught with problems. According to a Legislative Finance Committee report issued in June, half of New Mexico’s students became disengaged following the state’s shift to online classes at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March.As a result, many schoolchildren lost three months to a year’s worth of instruction.Adams, Madrid and Hyatt each said internet connectivity is an issue for their districts and that they are working on addressing that challenge.“That’s one of the things the state has dropped the ball on, in terms of ensuring students have access to the internet,” Hyatt said. “Online education will never replace in-person, and it’s even worse for students who can’t even get […]