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

By Kevin Wilson

PED: Schools not required to go remote


Last updated 8/22/2021 at 8:22pm

SANTA FE — The Public Education Department announced Thursday that new guidance will not require schools to go into remote learning should the campus pick up four rapid responses inside 14 days, as was required last school year.

Instead, the department plays to “work with schools to implement enhanced COVID-safe practice that will maintain in-person learning as much as possible.”

Schools that collect multiple rapid responses within a 14-day period will still be posted on the state’s rapid response watchlist. A rapid response is defined as one or more cases, whether student or staff, that were infectious while on campus.

“Our medical advisors have noted that schools currently are not hotbeds of COVID-19 infections,” Education Secretary Designate Kurt Steinhaus said in a Wednesday PED release. “At this point, we are not closing schools. The caveat is that the virus could change things, but we need to do what’s best for kids, which is to keep in-person learning to the extent possible.”

Carolyn Graham, director of communications for the PED, said the department has no specific thresholds for what virus changes could lead to a new push back into remote learning, “but our medical team continues to monitor this virus and the effectiveness of our response to it.”

Clovis Schools Superintendent Renee Russ, who shared concerns at the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce board meeting Wednesday about state-mandated remote learning, said the new guidance was a positive development.

Russ told The News the district continues to offer remote learning, and has about 150 students participating. But that offering is specifically tailored to students who choose online learning with clearance from parents or guardians.

“This is a very different scenario than what was faced last year when campuses had to continually and unexpectedly transition back and forth between in-person and remote learning settings,” Russ said. “The updated guidance received from NMPED today will help us have fewer disruptions to learning other than dealing with quarantining and isolation that result when there is a positive case on campus.”

A total of 18 schools, none in Curry or Roosevelt counties, have voluntarily implemented temporary moves to remote learning this school year.

According to the state’s Rapid Response Watchlist Friday afternoon, seven area schools had multiple rapid responses in the last 14 days. Barry Elementary has recorded three while Texico High School, Clovis High School Freshman Academy, Yucca Middle School and La Casita, Highland and Mesa elementary schools have each recorded two.


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