As deadline for back-to-school plans approaches, many NM school districts remain undecided | KOB 4

As deadline for back-to-school plans approaches, many NM school districts remain undecided

Tommy Lopez
Updated: July 09, 2020 10:33 AM
Created: July 08, 2020 10:16 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Discussions of whether students should go to school in-person next month have ramped up this week.

The CDC issued guidelines for a return and is expected to release more soon.

President Trump said Wednesday those guidelines are “impractical” and “expensive”, and wants students to learn in-person. He also threatened to withhold federal funding from districts that stay online-only.

One local parent’s three teenagers miss school, but she said she’ll opt to keep them at home.

“I have a weakened immune system, my parents are elderly, so we feel like it would be a risk for them to go back to school,” said Connie Gashler.

Gashler said young kids can’t be expected to use social distancing all the time.

“If this is happening regularly in a school setting in close quarters, teachers aren’t going to be able to regulate that, and they can’t be expected to,” she said.

Another parent is torn on the decision, and sees how one of her sons would benefit from returning.

“I think they need to be back in school, but it’s concerning for kids who have underlying health conditions,” said Rio Rancho parent Jennifer Wells.

Wells said it should matter that lots of kids are unhappy not being in school.

“These kids are suffering. Their mental stability is just not good right now,” she said. “They miss their friends. They miss the social activities.”

Many school districts haven’t decided or haven’t released their fall plan yet including APS, Rio Rancho, Santa Fe, Los Lunas and others. Those districts have until Wednesday to submit their plans to the state.

KOB 4 reached out to APS to learn more about their plans, but a spokesperson said the district will not announce anything before next Wednesday.

APS has been considering online-only and hybrid models. They will also be expanding its eCADEMY to all students K-12 for parents who feel uncomfortable sending their child in-person.

In Santa Fe, teachers got 500 signatures on an online petition that asks questions about reopening.

District leaders should decide the in-person questions early next week. Because so many parents may keep their kids home, Santa Fe may allow the rest of the students—or all students in certain grades—to come to school every day.

“If that’s what families want and I have the staff to be able to provide it, then we will do it,” said Dr. Veronica Garcia, superintendent of SFPS.

The school districts are also waiting to hear from the state public education department and the governor, who may make new recommendations soon.

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