RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – COVID-19 numbers are surging throughout the state and the demand for tests is impacting schools. Rio Rancho schools moved four schools to remote learning because they don’t have enough tests to keep them open.

Rio Rancho Public Schools say they are now down 266 staff members across the district. The problem is they don’t have enough PRC rapid response tests to bring staff back sooner. “So if the individual is symptomatic whether they are a student or staff member they have to have a PCR test we always prefer those rapid PCR test because they do turn around results faster,” said Melissa Perez, communications director for RRPS.

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Beginning Friday, V. Sue Cleveland High School and Rio Rancho High School are virtual for the next week. Puesta del Sol Elementary and Shining Stars Preschool will go virtual beginning Monday. Rio Rancho schools isn’t the only district that has had to go virtual. Santa Fe Public Schools had to go remote last week because of the test shortage.

Currently, many schools have COVID antigen tests for their Test-to-Stay program. Those who are symptomatic though, have to take the PCR tests. School districts are working with the New Mexico Public Education Department to see if the federal at-home COVID test kits which have been mailed out or given out can be used in their place.

“Those are guidelines that we are discussing right now. that is information that we have received from the ped that we may be allowed to do that. so that is ultimately going to come down to staffing,” Perez said.

Testing is key to the state’s Test-to-Stay program, which allows unvaccinated and partially vaccinated students exposed to COVID to stay at school if they test negative. Many districts around the U.S. already have changed their protocols and, in some cases, are doing away with contact tracing and shifting the focus to symptomatic students and at-home tests

Last week, New Mexico Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase said the state is talking about testing requirements for schools and whether changes are in order. KRQE News 13 reached out to the PED for more information on possible new guidelines or when more tests will be coming but did not hear back.