Updated: August 20, 2020 06:17 PM
Created: August 20, 2020 05:57 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- With the state hitting all of its gating criteria and the largest district announcing plans to continue remote learning, state officials said they remain focused on reopening schools safely for in-person learning.
"We got 330,000 kids in New Mexico that can potentially return to school so that's a very big group and seems to be a big priority right now,” said Dr. David Scrase, cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Human Services Department.
On Wednesday, the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education voted to continue online learning after three schools had to shut down because of COVID-19.
The district’s decision comes hours after the state officially hit all of its gating criteria.
Still, state officials said they were looking at the outbreaks happening at schools and universities across the country.
"I think we are paying close attention to what's happening in other states,” said Scrase.
“If you look at experiences in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Indiana – if they had our gating criteria that we're using in New Mexico, they would have reopened schools,” he added.
When asked if he recommends other districts follow APS’ lead in terms of switching to online only, Scrase said no.
According to Scrase, online learning can be difficult for families in rural parts of the state that don’t have internet access. He also said studies suggest students learn better in-person.
"I am not one of those people who back an all distance learning approach because I think there are other factors," Scrase said.
APS said part of the decision to keep schools closed was based on a survey that revealed a majority of parents said they did not feel comfortable with sending their kids back to class.
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