NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – It’s almost time for the new school year to start. Parents and students are still wondering how and where their kids will learn.

The state’s Medical Advisory Team says its hearing concerns from educators and parents about the challenges of distance learning and kids falling behind. “Our educational community really feels like the in-person learning is more effective than the online learning, and so we’re trying to figure out how do we do what’s safe, and give ourselves time to make sure that it’s gonna work,” said Dr. David Scrase, Secretary of Human Services Department.

Dr. Scrase says the state’s Medical Advisory Team is working closely with Los Alamos National Laboratory on this issue. LANL is able to map data and create models for what different scenarios might look like when schools reopen. Their modeling team has been recognized by the Center for Disease Control for being some of the most accurate in the country.

A recent Legislative Finance Committee analysis showed New Mexico school children may have lost a year’s worth of education due to closures. Things like internet access, keeping kids engaged and parents having to work were cited as part of the problem.

Dr. Scrase says the medical team is also trying to study how COVID-19 affects kids before they release state guidelines. ” Before we move ahead, we’re also spending a lot of time looking at scientific literature about COVID and kids. There’s not much out there at all, but it looks favorable,” said Scrase.

Dr. Scrase says it’s hard to study how much kids can spread the virus with social distancing and schools closed. However, they’re paying close attention to countries like Europe where schools are open year-round. “We’re trying to pull all that data in, it’s complex, but we think – we’re pretty sure that if we put a plan together now for reopening schools, we’ll have even more data in another four weeks,” said Scrase.

Much like the CDC’s guidelines for reopening schools, New Mexico’s plan will likely come with a series of options with a mixture of online and in-person learning. There is still no timeline for when the state will release its guidelines.