PED warns rise in COVID-19 cases could close schools again


NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The Public Education Department is sending a clear warning, if COVID cases continue to rise, they say they may have no choice but to return to remote learning.

PED Secretary Ryan Stewart didn’t make any changes to the re-entry plan yet, but said they won’t be looking to reopen any more schools at the moment. “Based on this latest surge, we’re seeing troubling signs that we’re no longer meeting that gating criteria, which means we’re not going to be able to reopen additional schools beyond the ones we just mentioned before,” said Secretary Stewart.

He says any of the schools that have been approved for any form of in-person learning can continue to operate as is, for now. That means schools operating on a hybrid model, rural schools operating at full capacity, or schools that have announced a start date but have not yet opened up. Right now Hidalgo, Dona Ana, Curry, and Sandoval Counties are all offering in-person learning.

Stewart warns the increase in cases is a slippery slope, and they may have to take drastic actions to slow the spread. “One thing I want to reemphasize, we are at the point where if we don’t take the actions we can, if we don’t take all the measures to stop the spread of the virus, then we do run the risk of getting to the point where we have to close down schools, and go back to the remote model,” said Secretary Stewart.

The P.E.D says there’s no timetable to determine whether or not schools will go back to remote learning. They say they’re working with the Department of Health to monitor cases, but they have not set a limit of how many cases the state has to reach before returning to remote learning as the only option.

Elementary schools are the only public schools the state has allowed to reopen. Middle and high schools are still on hold.

New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

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