The New Mexico Public Education Department announced Monday (March 8) that the state would be offering vaccinations to all school teachers and staff, with the goal of offering full time in-person learning beginning April 5.
“It’s time to ring the bell, New Mexico, and welcome our students fully back to in-person learning in our schools,” said Ryan Stewart, Secretary of the New Mexico Public Education Department.
In addition to schools opening in early April, Stewart announced that NMAA-sponsored sports, and other activities including band, choir and drama, could resume.
“Our message to New Mexico public schools today is that you now can and should move as quickly as possible to get every student who wants in-person learning back into your classrooms for in-person learning every school day,” said Stewart.
Taos Municipal Schools moved Taos High School to partial in-person learning, or hybrid learning, on Feb. 22, and had planned to move the remaining district schools to hybrid learning on April 12.
The NMPED plan comes just days after the Biden Administration announced on Tuesday (March 2) that U.S. school teachers should be next in line to get vaccinated.
Schools will be required to continue COVID-Safe Practices, including required masks, hand-washing and social distancing. Schools are also encouraged to use outdoor spaces as much as possible for meals and physical education.
More than 45,000 educators in New Mexico have registered to receive vaccines, and of those registered, almost 15,000 have received vaccine doses. The state currently has more than 50,800 K-12 school staff members — including teachers, administrators, bus drivers and food handlers.
“As part of New Mexico’s nation-leading vaccine distribution effort, DOH is focusing on vaccinating K-12 educators, early childhood professionals and staff,” said Tracie Collins, Secretary of the New Mexico Department of Health. “We are eager to support the safe return of educators and students to the classroom.”
Stewart and Collins made the announcement during a press conference broadcast on the NMPED Facebook page on Monday (March 8), and were joined by David Scrase, Secretary of the New Mexico Human Services Department.
Families who do not wish to return to full-time, in-person learning would be allowed to continue with remote learning. Teachers would be expected to return to the classroom unless health concerns prevented them.
“The time has come to get back to what we know is the gold standard in education — when we get to physically have our students together with our teachers in classrooms, and to do so safely,” said Stewart.