Sun. Jul 12th, 2020

New Mexico releases plan for reopening public schools

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s public schools now have rules and suggestions in determining their plans and strategies for reopening schools in 2020–2021.

The Public Education Department released guidance Tuesday that requires schools to start the year in a hybrid learning model with in-person attendance limited to 50% of classroom capacity. State officials are stating the plan as “a prudent and responsible process.”

The guidance states, that the state’s goal is to move all schools into a full school schedule as soon as it can be safely accomplished.

The state will assess the impact of school reentry on the rate of spread of the virus statewide in each of the 5 regions. When overall state data indicate that it is safe to move forward to a full school schedule, the regions will be able to do so. “Our preference is to move together as a state; if statewide data supports general advancement to Full Reentry, but an individual region’s data suggests that its opening would be unsafe, that region may be held back until numbers improve”.

The following requirements will be in place for all schools: 

  • Large group gatherings will be avoided at school buildings;
  • Face coverings are required except while eating, drinking and exercising (with very limited exceptions for students and staff with medical conditions precluding wearing of a mask or face shield; those medical conditions must be documented);
  • Schools must adhere to social distancing requirements of their designated category;
  • All staff must be screened every day, including a temperature check and review of potential symptoms upon arrival at school;
  • All staff must participate in ongoing surveillance testing;
  • All sites must coordinate with local health officials to conduct contact tracing and rapid response testing;
  • All transportation staff and students boarding buses must wear face coverings;
  • Meals must be provided to students during both in-person instruction and remote learning.

In addition, the phased entry approach will enable New Mexico to use the latest and best data on the impact of reopening in nearby states, as well as to base decisions on emerging, peer-reviewed research on virus transmission rates in children.