The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

PED: Mask-requirements eased, but not for all

Face-coverings required for all in elementary schools, plus the unvaccinated in all public schools.


Last updated 7/28/2021 at 11:55am

Courtesy photo

New Mexico's elementary-school students will be masked again when classes resume next month.

All elementary school students, teachers, support staff, volunteers and visitors will be required to wear masks in New Mexico public schools when classes resume next month, the state's Public Education Department announced Monday.

In addition, those who are unvaccinated, or who don't provide proof of vaccination, will be required to wear masks in all school classes.

The PED stated in a news release the guidelines are "designed to make sure New Mexico K-12 students can safely return to in-person learning this fall."

Masks were required in all public schools last school year, but officials had hoped they would be optional this year.

"In-person learning for New Mexico children is my top priority," said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in announcing the standards. "And with safety guidelines and unobtrusive health requirements in place, it can happen safely - and for the well-being and growth of our children, it must happen.

"Until vaccinations are available to children of every age, it will be incumbent on each of us, in school environments, to do everything we can to minimize risk - and that includes face-coverings," the governor added. "Various studies and federal data have shown school environments are and can be safe - and a return to comprehensive classroom activities is essential for the well-being and growth of New Mexico children."

Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Renee Russ said Monday she had not had time to review all of the requirements the state has established.

"However," she wrote in an email, "I can tell you that numerous Superintendents across the state continue to advocate for the opportunity to exercise local control with regard to mask-wearing and other COVID-related mandates. The only type of local control afforded to New Mexico school districts under these recently released guidelines is to be more restrictive than what is required by NMPED.

"To this point in the pandemic, we have chosen to avoid being more restrictive than required, and I expect this is the approach we will continue to take moving forward."

Portales Superintendent Johnnie Cain said he received news of the mandates Monday morning and plans a staff meeting Wednesday to discuss options. He said the district will offer online learning again to those who are concerned about the virus, but said details have not been worked out.

Cain said state education officials did not give any indication when mask mandates might be reviewed.

COVID-19 cases have been increasing in Curry and Roosevelt counties in recent weeks though hospitalizations remain low.

Plains Regional Medical Center Director Jorge Cruz said the Clovis hospital had four patients hospitalized with COVID on Tuesday, including one in intensive care. He said the hospital has seen two COVID-related deaths in the past two weeks.

Through Tuesday, Curry County had reported 106 new COVID cases in July, compared to 78 in June. Roosevelt County had reported 39 new cases in July, compared to 19 in June.

New Mexico’s Public Education Department posted the following on its website Monday regarding mask mandates in public schools:


All individuals in elementary schools regardless of vaccination status are required to wear a mask while:

in a school building

on school transportation

or at an indoor school-sponsored event

Secondary school students, staff, and volunteers who are fully vaccinated and provide documentation of full vaccination are not required to wear masks.

Secondary school students, staff, and volunteers who are unvaccinated (and those who do not provide documentation of full vaccination) are required to wear a mask while:

in a school building

on school transportation

or at an indoor school-sponsored event

Masks are not required outdoors.


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