THURS: APS Will Stay Remote For The Entire Semester, + More

Aug 20, 2020

APS Will Stay Remote For The Entire Semester Albuquerque Journal, KUNM

Most students in New Mexico’s largest school district will continue with remote learning through the rest of the semester following approval Wednesday night at the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education meeting. 

The Albuquerque Journal reports the board voted to extend the timeline of the APS reentry plan as three schools in the district shutdown for positive cases and recent survey results showed a majority of parents were “very uncomfortable” with beginning limited in-person learning after Labor Day.   

The Board voted 6 to 1 to push-out the return to classrooms with the exception of special education students. Board member Peggy Muller-Aragon cast the only dissenting vote. 

According to a spokesperson for the district, the three APS schools that were closed for cleaning following positive COVID-19 tests among at least one employee were Hayes Middle School, Hawthorne Elementary School, and East San Jose Elementary, which had two cases.

Governor Hopes For K-5 Return To Classrooms After Labor Day - Associated Press

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is expressing hope that most elementary school students will be able to return to classrooms after Labor Day under a hybrid mode, citing declining statewide rates of coronavirus infection. 

In a live video interview with The Washington Post on Wednesday, Lujan Grisham said New Mexico is "crushing it" when it comes to meeting the state's criteria for reopening the economy. 

She expressed hope that K-5 classrooms can reopen just after Labor Day to rotating pods of students who also study remotely from home. 

State health officials on Wednesday announced an additional 174 coronavirus infections and six related deaths.

Governor Speaks At DNC, Praises Biden On Climate And Energy Issues - Associated Press

The governor of New Mexico -  a major state for energy production - praised Joe Biden for his approach to combating climate change and supporting the clean energy sector. 

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham made the comments in an online appearance Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention. She stood amid a solar panel array in northern New Mexico to assure voters that Biden would renew U.S. participation in cooperative international efforts to combat global warming if elected. 

Lujan Grisham has helped set aggressive mandates for increasing electricity production from renewable sources such as solar and wind, and her administration is crafting regulations aimed at containing methane leaks and releases that contribute to global warming.

At the same time, New Mexico's portion of the Permian Basin is a major center for petroleum production, and Lujan Grisham has assured oil industry leaders in public that her Cabinet works for them.

Earlier Wednesday, Lujan Grisham described a personal affinity with Biden that goes beyond politics to their parallel experiences as widowed parents, in a live video with the Washington Post.

New Mexico City To Pay $6.5M In Police Chokehold Settlement - By Russell Contreras Associated Press

A New Mexico city has agreed to pay $6.5 million to the family of a Mexican American man who was choked to death by a police officer. 

A settlement agreement made public by the city of Las Cruces this week calls for the city to pay the family of Antonio Valenzuela within 30 days and embark on police reforms. 

Police say then-Las Cruces Officer Christopher Smelser applied the chokehold after Valenzuela fled during a traffic stop in February. 

Valenzuela died at the scene. 

Smelser was later fired and faces a murder charge. He has not yet entered a plea. His lawyer says the charge was a political move.

Court Filing Targets New Mexico's Energy Transition Law - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

Environmentalists have lined up behind the shift to renewable energy required by New Mexico's energy transition act.

But some are challenging language in the law that they say derails due process and eliminates standards of regulatory review meant to protect customers.

New Energy Economy and Citizens for Fair Rates and the Environment filed their brief this week with the state Supreme Court. Legal wrangling has been ongoing since the state adopted the landmark legislation in 2019.

Aside from mandating more renewable energy, the law includes a financing mechanism that supporters say is necessary for the 2022 closure of a major coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico.

The law allows Public Service Co. of New Mexico and other owners of the San Juan Generating Station to recover investments in the plant by selling bonds that will be paid off by utility customers.

The bonds will raise roughly $360 million to fund decommissioning costs, severance packages for displaced workers and job training programs.

Virus Exposure Closes 3 Central New Mexico Medical PracticesAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A central New Mexico family that has three medical practices has closed its offices due to coronavirus exposure, and two members of the family are recovering from symptoms of the virus.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Dr. Roland Sanchez, who has a family practice in Belen, New Mexico, and his wife, Elia, have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. A statement from the family didn't provide details of their condition.

Family spokesman Tom Garrity says with two exceptions, the family members who have tested positive are asymptomatic.

Along with Sanchez's medical practice, those of his sons, Dr. Roland Sanchez II, who owns Conquistador Dental, and Dr. Florian Sanchez, owner of Yucca Veterinary Medical Center, closed their respective offices on Aug. 10. According to voice recordings at each office, all three planned on reopening this week.

GOP US Senate Hopeful In New Mexico Releases 1st Ad - Associated Press

Mark Ronchetti, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate in New Mexico, has released his first general election commercial. 

The forward-looking ad released this week focuses on Ronchetti's support for law enforcement, fighting crime, and small businesses. 

The former television meteorologist vows in the ad to "never support defunding the police." 

Ronchetti is facing Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Ben Ray Luján for New Mexico's open Senate seat. 

Earlier this month, Luján released a television ad touting his support for expanding Medicaid while pointing to his father's fight with cancer. The commercial highlighted Luján's father, Ben Luján, the late Speaker of the New Mexico House, and his access to insurance.