NMPED releases guidance on masks for the upcoming school year

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico Public Education Department has released new guidance on masks and COVID-19 protocols for the upcoming school year.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • All individuals in elementary schools regardless of vaccination status are required to wear a mask while: in a school building, on school transportation or at an indoor school-sponsored event.
  • Secondary school students, staff and volunteers who are fully vaccinated and provide documentation of full vaccination are not required to wear masks.
  • Secondary school students, staff and volunteers who are unvaccinated (and those who do not provide documentation of full vaccination) are required to wear masks while: in a school building, on school transportation or at an indoor school-sponsored event.
  • Masks are not required outdoors for any individual.
  • Unvaccinated spectators are required to wear masks at indoor school events’ however, they are not required to provide evidence of vaccination status.
  • Schools must identify the process for ensuring compliance with mask requirements, including posting signage in school facilities, announcing mask requirements at events and other necessary means for enforcement.
  • Schools must advise individuals who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system to talk with their healthcare provider about steps that can be taken to manage the health risks.

“In-person learning for New Mexico children is my top priority,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said. “And with safety guidelines and unobtrusive health requirements in place, it can happen safely – and for the well-being and growth of our children, it must happen."

“Until vaccinations are available to children of every age, it will be incumbent on each of us, in school environments, to do everything we can to minimize risk – and that includes face-coverings,” Lujan Grisham said.

The new guidelines also allow school-related events like assemblies, dances and award ceremonies, but with masking and social distancing requirements for unvaccinated individuals.

According to the NMPED, schools must maintain a voluntary student surveillance testing program with a weekly goal of testing 25% of unvaccinated students participating in sports and other extracurricular activities.

All schools must also test 25% of unvaccinated staff members each week.

To see the updated COVID-19 Response Toolkit in full, click here.

In response to the new CDC guidance issued Tuesday, the NMPED issued the following statement:

"The New Mexico Public Education Department’s guidance included in the COVID-19 Response Toolkit we issued yesterday stands for now as we review the latest recommendations from the CDC with our public health colleagues."