Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
It may be a lot to juggle, starting her 14th year of teaching from home. But Milagro Tognoni needed that option.
“I do have three children and my husband is a (private school) teacher and he is being asked to work from his building. Since we can’t both be here, it makes more sense to be here at home with my kids,” the East San Jose Elementary School kindergarten teacher said.
Tognoni, along with other Albuquerque Public Schools staff, returned to work on Aug. 5 and remote learning for students will begin Aug. 12.
This week the state Public Education Department released a memo telling school leaders that, while the state is in a remote learning model, if school staff can work from home then they should.
“No staff member that has the technological capacity to teach or perform their job remotely shall be required to physically report to the building for the purpose of delivering online instruction or other job-related activity that can be performed remotely,” the memo from PED Secretary Ryan Stewart stated.
PED spokeswoman Deborah Martinez said that’s a requirement per the public health order. She added that the PED will investigate any reports of violations.
But there is some flexibility. The memo notes there is work that can’t be done from home such as food services. Also, the memo says staff can come to school should they need supplies or internet. If staff are on campus, they have to follow safety guidelines, including wearing masks and social distancing.
APS spokeswoman Monica Armenta said that as of late afternoon Thursday about 4,000 employees, who are largely in schools, have submitted a form to APS Human Resources to work from home during remote learning. Armenta added that the district has 12,188 employees. She couldn’t say how many of those forms were approved but said the district is “trying to be as accommodating as possible.”
According to an agreement between the Albuquerque Teachers Federation union and the district, educators have the option of working in their classrooms but they are largely allowed to work from home during distance learning.
Ellen Bernstein, ATF president, said the PED memo affirms the agreement. “Some principals wanted their staff in school and I think that was going on around the state,” she said.
Tognoni says the only pressure she’s felt to get back into the classroom has been from negative comments about teachers online. Her colleagues and principal have been supportive.