School year begins for some New Mexico districts

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The school year is getting underway at some of New Mexico’s largest public school districts as teachers, students and parents deal with remote learning amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Albuquerque Public Schools started Wednesday as schools in the district have been distributing technology to students, making virtual home visits, and providing guidance to staff, students and families.

The Las Cruces district has outlined protocols for instruction, technology and nutrition services for that district’s all-online start.

“We have prepared, and we are ready,” Las Cruces Superintendent Karen Trujillo said in a statement. “Our teachers have immersed themselves in professional development training, our nutrition services team is ready to get meals moving and our technology staff has ensured that students who need devices for online learning have them in hand.”

Trujillo said educators participated in more than 350 professional development webinars to prepare for the start of virtual classes and laptops and tablets were ordered at the beginning of the summer with the aim of every student having access to a device. Some students are still waiting though due to shipping delays and social distancing constraints as the district’s technology staff prepares the devices for distribution.

Whether New Mexico students return to the classroom later in the year will depend on the pace of the pandemic in the state.

State public education officials initially proposed a hybrid plan combining in-person classroom time with online learning, but many districts around the state had requested a remote start to the year. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in late July declared that classes would be virtual at least through Sept. 7 due to an uptick of COVID-19 cases.

The state Health Department’s latest modeling report indicates the statewide increase in daily case counts has since declined and that the highest percentage of cases — about 19% — are among people between 25 and 34 years old.

New Mexico has reported more than 22,640 cases since the pandemic began. There have been nearly 700 deaths attributed to COVID-19.

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