PED urges kids to return to in-person classrooms in the fall

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- The New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) wants everyone back in the classroom in August.

“We think our schools have been very safe,” Sec. Ryan Stewart said. “We would highly encourage everyone to make sure that you know you have a safe school to be able to send your kids back to.”

The NMPED is not requiring that every school have online options, but every family should still have access, Stewart said.

“What we are doing is making sure that we have a robust set of online offerings available throughout the state,” he said.

Stewart thinks there will still be many families that will choose to learn at home because of COVID concerns, though the state doesn’t know how many.

The Albuquerque Teachers Federation and president Ellen Bernstein are looking forward to the school year.

“I just think that this is going to be that bridge back to normal schooling, and I’m really optimistic about it,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a step forward, but I don’t think it’s going to be all the way back to what we’re used to.”

Bernstein says teachers still have concerns, especially about having to teach online and in-person at the same time.

There’s good news for them — they won’t have to. The union and the school district say they’ve reached an agreement on that.

Online-only students will need to be enrolled in eCADEMY, which means those students will have completely different teachers than the ones they’d have in-person.

Everyone is still waiting to hear what the new CDC guidelines for schools will entail, especially whether kids will have to wear masks. That information could come out any day.

New Mexico health officials have said they’re guidance will follow the CDC’s.

KOB 4 asked to interview an APS official to hear the district’s message to families regarding in-person learning. The district did not accept the offer.