PED discusses school reentry plan with lawmakers

Coronavirus New Mexico

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Officials with the Public Education Department explained to lawmakers Friday how they’re going to make sure kids get the education they deserve this school year given the challenges the state is facing. A lot of people are still asking if they have the supplies they need.

“We think that it’s essential to get kids back to as much safe in-person learning as fast as we can, as soon as the public health conditions allow for it. We think that that’s crucial because we know how important it is for all of our kids to have access to high-quality learning opportunities. These are long term investments,” said Ryan Stewart, Secretary for the PED.

Stewart says it came up with the school re-entry plan requirements with education and health in mind. Districts will be getting financial help this year thanks to the Federal Cares Act. About $97 million has been allocated statewide to school districts and Albuquerque Public Schools is getting nearly $26 million.

The state says close to 50% of the funding should be spent on the technology needed for students to work remotely. That includes everything from laptops to wifi access. They also revealed that nearly 25$ of families have requested an online-only version of learning.

Stewart said another 34% of the money should be used for PPE like masks, gloves, and cleaning supplies. Another big question is if teachers are prepared for this unusual situation.

Senator Craig Brandt expressed concerns. “We’ve got a school that’s getting ready to start here either next week or the following week and we haven’t given the teachers the tools to adjust to this new climate, so I really think we’ve missed an opportunity here in the last four to five months,” said Senator Craig Brandt.

Stewart said with this new plan for teaching and cleaning there will be a lot of learning along the way and even some failures in the process. Saying the only way to get some of those questions answered is by jumping in and seeing what works for teachers and their students.

PED modeled the distance learning plan off of what did and did not work in the spring.

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