GALLUP, NM (KRQE) – Four more New Mexico counties can now reopen elementary schools for hybrid learning.
That includes schools in Gallup, just months after the city was on lockdown, and making national news as coronavirus cases raced through the area.
The city now has a less than 5% test positivity rate and a Gallup-McKinley County Public Schools board member says they’re ready to welcome students back to class on Monday.
“At least they will be able to come to the school, download their work and take it home,” board member Michael SChaaf said. “I wish we could go full time but at least it will help the students.”
The district will welcome half of the elementary students on Mondays and Tuesdays, the other half on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and all kids will learn virtually on Fridays.
Families have the option to continue distance learning from home, though.
This reopening is a big leap in the right direction when compared to the scene in Gallup for about ten days in early May. The city made national headlines as big orange cones and state police blocked visitors from coming into the city.
More than four months later, the New Mexico Department of Health’s latest map shows McKinley County has moved into the green zone, meeting the criteria to reopen under the hybrid model because of improving average daily case rates and test positivity numbers.
The Public Education Department said the goal is to keep schools from opening and closing if case numbers spike in any county, so the PED and health department are always monitoring county conditions.
“It will be up to the health experts, not the education experts to determine when it is no longer safe for those students to return to school,” PED Spokesperson Judy Robinson stated. “We do know that young children suffer the most from not having in-person learning and therefore we think it’s so critical to bring them back as early as possible, which is what we’re doing.”
Students will be given digital thermometers to take their temperatures at home daily. They won’t be allowed on campus if they have a fever.
The other three counties getting the go-ahead this week for the hybrid model include Hidalgo, Dona Ana and Curry counties.
The PED has to sign off on re-entry plans for the school districts in those counties, or they can stick with online learning for the semester as Las Cruces has.
24 other counties got the same permission from the PED last week.
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