Gallup McKinley County school teachers say district leadership isn’t doing enough to protect them from COVID-19 | KOB 4

Gallup McKinley County school teachers say district leadership isn’t doing enough to protect them from COVID-19

Megan Abundis
Updated: November 17, 2020 10:37 PM
Created: November 17, 2020 10:22 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Concerned teachers with Gallup McKinley County Schools allege that leadership has not done enough to protect them against COVID-19.

More than a dozen teachers in the district raised concerns over their safety. Many of them stayed home Monday in an attempt to make a statement. 

“Just appalled—I'm almost in disbelief,” said a mother of an Indian Hills Elementary student. 

The mother, who wished to remain anonymous, criticized the district’s handling of her son’s COVID exposure. 

“I just can't believe I wasn't told it was my son's teacher,” she said.

The word quickly spread around the community and teachers said their friend and colleague fell extremely ill. 

“I have a friend who is a teacher and was flown to Albuquerque, and is intubated and is on her deathbed—a young teacher in her 30s. Nothing is being done. Nothing is being communicated,” said one teacher, who wished to remain anonymous. 

But many claim that’s just the beginning of their issues with the school district. 

“There's just a sense of lack of caring and interest in the people that work in this district,” said a second anonymous teacher. “I know that there were times my room was not clean when it was supposed to be cleaned."

Some educators feel that GMCS is flying under the state’s radar. 

“We've been threatened multiple times,” said the first teacher. “For saying things like if we call the PED they'll revoke our license and just lots of scuttle from admin above us."

A third anonymous teacher suggested there are more than just the seven positive COVID that have been reported within the district. 

“Parents aren't being told that there are positive cases in their child's school,” they said. 

KOB 4 reached out to the school district about those claims, but did not hear back before this story aired. 

Public Education Department Ryan Stewart sent KOB 4 the following statement about the claims:

“PED has established clear guidelines for New Mexico schools to follow to protect students and staff amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as rigorous protocols to ensure compliance. We have detailed requirements for testing, reporting, cleaning and -- if necessary -- closing schools where the virus is spreading. All our guidance points to a deep effort to protect students, staff and communities and to minimize the spread of the virus, and I promise all New Mexicans that effort will continue. 

“We also created a complaint portal where individuals can anonymously report concerns about school-based practices that do not conform to our guidance. Through this portal, PED is aware there are concerns in the Gallup area, and we will follow the protocols we have in place to address them.” 

GMCS teachers said they would feel safer teaching an online-only learning model, and parents are continuing to demand answers.  

“I love my job I love my kids, but I want to be in remote,” said the second teacher. 

“I want answers from my son's school and the superintendent,” the anonymous mother said. “I feel that he owes it to the county."

District officials announced a special school board meeting to decide whether hybrid learning should be paused until next year. The meeting is scheduled to take place Friday afternoon. 


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