NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The school board at the Floyd Municipal School District in Roosevelt County voted to go against the New Mexico Public Education Department’s COVID-19 recommendations to wear masks for the upcoming school year despite the rising cases of the delta variant. Everything from not requiring mas and social distancing to making testing optional for staff, now the PED is threatening action against them.

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The school district has 220 students, pre-K thru 12th grade. In a letter dated July 27, former PED secretary Ryan Stewart called the board’s actions “extremely troubling” and says if they do not change their vote by noon, August 3, there will be consequences including immediate suspension of school board members or administrators.

During that special meeting this week, school board members took their own actions to approve COVID-19 policies for the upcoming school year that all go directly against what the PED has advised with masks being optional, no temperature checks, no air filtering, surveillance testing for staff is not required and classroom activities resume as they did pre-pandemic.

“This would also be negative consequences for the employees of Floyd schools if we did not change our vote,” said Leon Nall, president of the Floyd Municipal School Board.

The school board says their local district should be led by those who actually live in the community, not from Santa Fe. In 2008, the state voted to have a PED oversee the education system in the state and school districts would have to follow their guidelines.

“The New Mexico school boards have been requesting since 2008 for local control to be returned to the board these requests have been unanswered,” Nall says.

PED says the highly contagious delta variant continues to cause cases to rise, and they are focused on keeping students and staff safe. They also say they cannot allow a school board to knowingly put people in danger by ignoring scientific and medical guidelines.

Students in Floyd go back to school on August 9. PED has not officially ordered masks in all K-12 schools. On Monday, they had announced that masks would only be required in elementary schools and among the unvaccinated. However, the next day the CDC reversed its course saying all schools should require masks. PED says it’s staying the course until they review that guidance.