Floyd school board continues to push back against NMPED’s COVID guidelines

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FLOYD, N.M. – The Floyd school board is pushing back against state mandates for COVID, and it’s raising questions about who has the ultimate control of guidelines.

The state’s Public Education Department released new guidelines stating that students and staff in New Mexico must continue to mask up if they are unvaccinated, but the school board in Floyd voted to not require masks indoors.

“The biggest priority in my mind is the wellbeing of our children, and we’ve seen over the last year and a half that a one size approach to the COVID-19 issue is not working and not helpful. We need local control to allow our local communities decide what is best for their children,” said Sen. Gregg Schmedes.

NMPED Secretary Ryan Stewart sent a memo saying if the board continued to violate those practices, it could result in licensure actions taken against people, suspension of school board governance, or other applicable enforcement actions.

"If anyone feels safer with a mask we have, no one, we have no objections to them wearing masks if anyone has a fear of what we are doing, we will make the accommodations," said Leon Nall, president of Floyd’s school board.

Officials with NMPED sent KOB 4 a statement Tuesday reiterating parts of that letter:

"The Public Education Department leaders respect our school board members and the critical role they play. We sincerely believe they want the best for their students. In this instance, the state cannot permit a local board to knowingly put students, staff, and families in danger by ignoring scientific and medical guidelines designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 which has already claimed the lives of over 4,000 New Mexicans. It is not our wish to be combative or punitive in this process. We must take all actions necessary to ensure that the proper safety measures are in place to stop school-based spread of the virus."

“This is a very divisive issue, it’s a diverse state, and it should be a diverse policy that respects local control. So I think the decision to mask should be left up to the local school district, and we need to be respectful of what people decide to do in their own communities,” Schmedes said.

The Floyd school board had until Tuesday, Aug. 3, to reverse course. The school board president said they will not be doing that, and they don’t know what that will mean moving forward.