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New Mexico Moves To Fully Reopen All Schools

Alliance for Excellent Education via Flickr
Creative Commons BY 2.0: creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Almost exactly a year after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham first ordered K-12 schools closed to reduce spread of the coronavirus, her administration announced all schools statewide must fully reopen by April 5.

At a news conference Monday, Education Secretary Ryan Stewart told New Mexico public schools that they are expected to open their doors to all students 5 days a week. “The time has come to get back to what we know is the Gold Standard in education,” he said. “When we get to physically have our students together with our teachers in classrooms, and to do so safely.” 

Schools can also resume extracurricular activities including sports and music with some restrictions

Last month, districts were given the go-ahead for hybrid learning with half of students in the building at a time. 

While all students will now have the option to return to in-person class full time, families can opt for their children to stay remote. 

Teachers at high risk for a severe case of COVID-19 remain exempt from returning in person only until they are fully vaccinated. The Department of Health announced Monday that it is prioritizing vaccinations for educators over the next three weeks. “We’re going to make sure that we get shots in arms – first shots – by the end of the month,” Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collin said at the news conference Monday.  

Sec. Stewart said schools will follow COVID-safe practices like mask-wearing and air-quality standards. He said schools will enforce social distancing and serve meals outdoors “to the greatest extent possible.” Isolation rooms will be set up for students and staff with symptoms. 

Nash Jones (they/them) is a general assignment reporter in the KUNM newsroom and the local host of NPR's All Things Considered (weekdays on KUNM, 5-7 p.m. MT). You can reach them at nashjones@kunm.org or on Twitter @nashjonesradio.