Updated: September 15, 2020 10:10 PM
Created: September 15, 2020 09:10 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— The State Public Education Department announced it will start requiring school districts to COVID test 5% of staff in schools each week. Officials said the testing is an effort to identify asymptomatic cases.
Every teacher has to be tested at least once between now and May and virtual teachers will be exempt.
In Rio Rancho, in-person schooling began Monday. The HR department for district sent out guidance on who would be getting tested. Teachers will be selected at random and will be notified a few days before their test, but it’s up to each school district to decide how they will test staff.
“We've heard from many teachers and at this point there isn't a lot of concern around the random testing that's going to occur,” said Billie Helean, president of the Rio Rancho School Employees Union. “The union itself, we support the idea of random testing and the reason we support it is because we are going to have teachers in classrooms, students in classrooms and we want to make sure those people are safe, and one of the best way to do that is to ensure that we don't have virus that's spreading without knowledge. By having that testing in place, we will be able to make sure our community is safe."
PED said once school districts have signed their assurance documents agreeing to follow the order, they’re good to go.
If a teacher tests positive for the virus, the school has to notify PED and the State Department of Health. From there, the State Environment Department will step in along with OSHA.
PED officials said they’ll send a tool kit to teachers in the next few days that will detail a rapid response process for things like protocol, data collection, building closures, quarantine and community notification.
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