On Wednesday (Sept. 23), the Taos Municipal Schools Board voted unanimously during a virtual public meeting to extend remote learning through the end of the first semester.
The school board meeting, conducted via Zoom, had to be stopped and later resumed after it was hacked by a group of people, who spat profanities at board members and displayed pornographic images on the screen. That lasted for about five minutes before the meeting was ended and started up again.
While the board ultimately voted to extend remote learning, there were some additions to that decision, such as the district pinpointing those who may need a place to get remote work done and setting up spaces for them to do so.
The reopening committee – led by Taos Middle/High School Principal CJ Grace and other educators – recommended to the board that either the board reassess remote learning again at a later October board meeting or let it continue through the end of the semester.
Superintendent Lillian Torrez said it would be best for remote learning to be extended, since there aren't adequate numbers of staff to support face-to-face learning at this point in time.
Torrez had also mentioned a survey in which elementary parents in the school district leaned toward keeping their kids learning remotely rather than send them back for in-person learning.
Board president James Sanborn and board member Pascualito Maestas had a question about child care and how the district might be able to handle that going forward.
Torrez said the district can try to find options for students to have a place to study. And she had mentioned that aside from the district, there are 15 day cares centers in Taos that have accepted TMS students.
Though remote learning has been extended until the end of the semester, some students in pre-K will head back in a hybrid setting, Torrez said.
Grace said that the reason for the committee’s recommendation has to do with recent COVID-19 data released by the state.
Taos County currently has a rate of spread of the virus of 1.20 – higher than the state’s 1.05 target – which has increased over the past month, Grace said.
However, TMS district is in one of the "green zone" counties – as it is described by the state – since the daily cases are under 8 per 100,000 and test positivity is under 5 percent, which is the state’s recommended goal.