School districts learn whether they are eligible to return to school or not

Education

Watch full PED webinar below

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The state’s Public Education Department held a webinar Thursday to update and layout plans revealing which districts are eligible and ready to have students back into the classroom after Labor Day. PED Cabinet Secretary Ryan Stewart started off the webinar by thanking New Mexicans for slowing the spread of COVID-19 which has allowed kids to go back to school.

Starting Tuesday, school districts approved by the state can begin a phased-in hybrid model and allow students back into the classroom. Secretary Stewart says they’re doing everything to make sure kids are safe.

“Every student, every educator and every parent can know with confidence, we do have systems in place to make sure all guidelines are being adhered to,” Secretary Stewart said.

Before school districts can allow students back to school, their county has to be within the ‘green zone’ on the health map. That means an average of eight positive daily cases per 100,000 people.

The PED also has to approve each district’s reentry plans. There are 50 districts and 41 charter schools to allow students from pre-k through fifth grade to attend school two days a week.

Albuquerque Collegiate Charter school is now planning to re-open on Tuesday. “We as a team are excited to be able to start doing that starting with our kindergarten scholars next week,” says Exec. Dir. Jade Rivera.

Rivera says the students have been broken up into two groups and will be in the classroom twice a week and online for the remaining three days. While they’re in the building, safety protocols will be in place, including social distancing inside the classroom.

“Temperature screening everyone that comes into the building. We have increased cleaning protocols throughout our building. In addition, requiring masks for all staff and students,” Rivera says.

Secretary Stewart says he is confident all of them are ready and have done everything to make sure kids are safe. “Three big buckets that we looked at… instructional, social, emotional, and family engagement and the biggest commonality is whether we have to be in a hybrid, remote or full reentry. They had thought through what the elements were going to be in place to successfully operate in any of those areas,” Secretary Stewart said.

Counties in the red, yellow, or orange can still submit plans to the PED for approval, so when they go green, they’re already prepared to welcome kids back. Currently, there are six counties in the red, mostly in southeast New Mexico.

If there is a COVID-19 case reported at any school, the state says they will access each case and decide whether to close with individual classrooms, a wing of a building, or the entire school. Students and staff impacted would have to quarantine for 14 days and take part in remote learning.

Now, if a county goes from green to red, schools could still stay open. The state says once a school opens they want it to stay open. Secretary Stewart saying they’ve also worked to get a stockpile of PPE for school across the state with 700,000 masks already at schools and a million more will arrive later this month.

The PED is not mandating that any district go back but leaving that decision up to each school board. The state’s largest school district, APS, has decided to wait until January.

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