State education officials getting close-up look at COVID-safe protocols in schools

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Officials with the New Mexico Public Education Department are visiting schools that resumed in-person learning.

Deputy Sec. Katarina Sandoval toured Sundance Elementary School in Los Lunas Wednesday. It began in-person learning April 6.

“The students walked in with trepidation the first day but I think once they saw their teachers live and in person, they were so excited and at ease,” said Sundance Elementary Principal Venessa Tregembo.

Approximately 90% of students returned to class, according to Tregembo.

The students were met with new safety protocols.

"My team have been the ones to create the toolkits and the guidance that we give to districts, but to see them implemented, for example care rooms, isolations, protocols set in place for when students are exhibiting symptoms, it’s wonderful to see it fully implemented,” Sandoval said.

Other safety measures include numbered seating in the cafeteria, markers for social distancing and closing off the water fountains. And guests are required to have a temperature check and fill out a questionnaire.

“What we’re seeing is that on day one we had a number of families come in for in-person learning, and we had a lot of families wait to see, what is it really going to look like,” said Arsenio Romero, Superintendent of Los Lunas Schools.

Students who are not in the classroom are still participating virtually.

“I was really impressed how the teachers here at Sundance Elementary school, as Superintendent Romero said the roomers and Zoomers, they kept them together as if it were one classroom. So you could see the students online they had their cameras on, teachers were proceeding with the lesson and calling on students to contribute," Sandoval said. "It was seamless and it was wonderful to see that interaction.

Romero said the district has also worked hard to vaccinate those teachers and staff members who want it. He said around 60% of the district has been vaccinated.