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PED: Schools can stay open, no additional hybrids

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

While Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced tightened restrictions are on the way for New Mexicans amid hefty COVID-19 case growth, the state Public Education Department says schools can keep their doors open.

But there are new safety measures in place.

PED said in a news release that K-12 public schools can stay in the learning model they are currently operating in – including a hybrid of in-person and online learning – despite the public health order. However, no additional schools doing remote learning will be able to transition to hybrid during the two weeks the new public health restrictions are in place.

As of Wednesday, schools can be included in the New Mexico Environment Department’s COVID-19 Watchlist if they get two or more “Rapid Responses” in 14 days.

“A Rapid Response is a series of interventions designed to prevent COVID-19 spread, beginning when the New Mexico Department of Health notifies a school that an employee or student has a confirmed positive case and was on campus/in the facility during the infectious period,” the announcement said. “If a facility, school or institution tests multiple staff members or students within a day of notification of a positive case, all the positive results would be counted as a single rapid response.”

Schools that have four Rapid Responses in 14 days will be required to do remote learning and the building has to shut down, mirroring a regulation on businesses.

“For K-12 schools under PED jurisdiction, only the individual school that reached the four-in-14 threshold would be required to return to remote learning. That means a school district could have one school closed for in-person learning, another on the Watchlist, and others with no impact,” the PED wrote in the release.

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