Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
Santa Fe Public Schools will move forward with plans to welcome back at least some students to in-person classes in less than two weeks.
The Santa Fe School Board unanimously approved Thursday a modified hybrid school plan to allow a small number of students to return to classes, although the exact number that will be allowed at each school and in each grade has yet to be determined.
Both staff and students can return on a volunteer basis and Superintendent Veronica Garcia said the district has a little over 300 volunteer staff members so far.
“We have many schools where we don’t have all grades covered,” she said, adding the district is working to make sure all grades will be available.
Students with disabilities will be prioritized for the limited amount of spots in each grade, since special education plans often require face-to-face instruction.
After that, other student slots will be filled through a lottery process, where names are drawn at random for each grade. Garcia said alternates will be selected should a student decline to go back.
“I know there’s going to be a lot of families that are disappointed,” she said. “I wish that we could offer more.”
The decision comes as coronavirus cases are soaring in New Mexico, which has seen its daily average of cases double to more than 170 since Labor Day.
SFPS has had 12 cases of the virus, but Garcia noted none of them were contracted while at a school campus. Board Member Sarah Boses said she would not have supported the hybrid plan had teachers been required to work face-to-face with students.
Despite the ability for teachers to opt-out of in-person learning, many expressed concern about the hybrid plan and the potential for a future outbreak. Garcia said she believes the learning environment will be safe, but not free of risk.
“I make that decision as though my grandchildren were going to be taught in that school,” she said. “I believe that it is safe.”