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With students returning to school campuses for in-person learning across Taos County, kids, parents and school staff are struggling with a constantly shifting landscape of federal, state and local public health regulations.

After a slowdown in the COVID-19 case rates during the early summer, the highly infectious Delta variant has sent case rates soaring again, forcing government officials to revisit those rules yet again.

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The 2021-22 school year has begun and administrators and teachers have rolled out the welcome mat for students of the Taos Municipal School District.  

The outlook for the upcoming year is positive, according to Dr. Lillian Torrez, Superintendent of Schools. Guidelines are in place to ensure that, whatever the months ahead present, the district is prepared.

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Taos County saw a 74 percent drop in COVID-19 cases between July 27 and August 2, in stark contrast to the state and national trends which are seeing increases in the number of Delta variant cases.

Across New Mexico, cases were up 60 percent, and up 50 percent across the nation during the same time frame, according to Town of Taos GIS Analyst Tim Corner.

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For 24 years, kids in Taos have had a friend in Alfred Córdova, the beloved principal of Taos Middle School, who is retiring from a career in education at the end of June.

"The best job in the world -- no doubt," said Córdova, 56. "I firmly believe that I've been very, very blessed to be able to serve our community in this capacity for 14 years." Córdova was a teacher for 10 years before becoming the school principal -- he also taught in Santa Fe and Pojoaque...

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New Mexico schools will receive $979 million in federal aid to help them fully reopen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The New Mexico Public Education Department will allocate 90 percent of the funding to individual school districts and state charter schools.

The remaining 10 percent will fund interventions to address learning loss, summer-enrichment and after-school programs, accelerated instruction, efforts to close the digital divide and support for disabled and at-risk students.

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In an historic moment, more than 350 teachers and staff from Taos Municipal School District, as well as surrounding area schools, will voluntarily receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine this week. 

The vaccine roll out plan, provided by the New Mexico Dept. of Health, is currently in phase 1B, where frontline and essential workers, persons of age 75 or older, and persons of age 16 or older at risk of COVID complications, and now early education and k-12 teachers are eligible to register and receive the vaccine.