Teachers union backs mandatory face mask policy - Albuquerque Journal

Teachers union backs mandatory face mask policy

Pablo Angeles, a second-grade teacher at Cesar Chavez Elementary School in Santa Fe, prepares his classroom for the start of the school year later this month. Santa Fe Public Schools are requiring staff, teachers and students to wear face masks indoors regardless of whether they are vaccinated against COVID-19. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – With new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on the rise again, leaders of a prominent New Mexico teachers union said Friday they support mandatory face mask policies for all students and teachers.

The American Federation of Teachers New Mexico union, however, stopped short of calling for mandatory COVID-19 vaccines, but urged the unvaccinated to consider getting the shot.

New COVID-19 infections have surged in New Mexico and other states in recent weeks, with most cases linked to the contagious delta variant of the virus.

State health officials have expressed renewed concerns about an already strained New Mexico hospital system, as the number of individuals hospitalized statewide due to the virus increased to 296 on Friday – up from 83 hospitalizations a month ago.

There were also 798 new COVID-19 cases reported Friday, according to state Department of Health data, and five additional deaths related to the virus. Those deaths brought the state’s death toll to 4,446 since the pandemic hit New Mexico in March 2020.

Given that backdrop, face mask policies for New Mexico public school students and teachers have generated debate among parents, lawmakers and school boards.

While some rural school boards have chafed at the state’s COVID-19 guidelines, the AFT New Mexico union leaders said vaccination and mask-wearing are key to keeping schools open under an in-person model.

“While we are not, at this time, calling for mandatory vaccinations for eligible students or staff in K-12 settings, the fact remains that our ability to return to and stay in full-time, in-person education and instruction falls squarely on the shoulders of the remaining adult New Mexicans who have thus far resisted doing their part to fight and eradicate COVID-19 in New Mexico,” three union leaders said in a statement.

Meanwhile, state health officials also said Friday they were closely tracking federal agencies’ review of possible third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for certain people with compromised immune systems, including those who have undergone organ transplant surgeries.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week authorized the additional vaccine dose for such individuals and state officials indicated they’re likely to follow suit. As of Friday, a total of 74.6% of New Mexicans age 18 and older had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, while 65.7% of eligible state residents had gotten all doses necessarily to be fully vaccinated.

With reports of some people obtaining fake vaccine cards, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and other state officials said Friday such falsification is a crime and vowed law enforcement officials will pursue any reports received.

Home » Business » Health & Safety » Teachers union backs mandatory face mask policy

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
Barelas Park reopens after nearly $2 million renovation
ABQnews Seeker
Barelas Park reopened to the public ... Barelas Park reopened to the public Wednesday with many new features.
New Mexico State Police officer accused of sexually assaulting ...
ABQnews Seeker
A State Police officer was arrested ... A State Police officer was arrested Friday in the alleged sexual assault of a 20-year-old woman while the two were on a New Mexico ...
Solomon Peña to remain in custody, judge rules
ABQnews Seeker
A judge said he could find ... A judge said he could find no conditions of release that would reasonably ensure the safety of the community, despite a defense attorney's contention ...
Proposed rule for public lands expected to have outsized ...
ABQnews Seeker
A coalition of conservation and outdoor ... A coalition of conservation and outdoor recreation enthusiasts is urging New Mexicans to support the proposal. Opponents, in turn, question whether the rule will ...
Green chile cheeseburger review: Griff's Hamburgers
ABQnews Seeker
The green chile cheeseburger tour heads ... The green chile cheeseburger tour heads to the International District.
On the market: A property with "It's all good, ...
ABQnews Seeker
Fourplex featured on two episodes of ... Fourplex featured on two episodes of "Better Call Saul."
Albuquerque’s Al Cabral claims gold in Asian Pacific Masters ...
ABQnews Seeker
"The world is a beautiful place ... "The world is a beautiful place and this gives me a chance to travel," said Al Cabral, 89, who won gold medals for javelin ...
Executive order authorizes up to $100,000 in state funding ...
ABQnews Seeker
With Farmington still reeling from a ... With Farmington still reeling from a daytime mass shooting last month that left four people dead, Lt. Gov. Howie Morales has signed an executive ...
Bryan Cranston not retiring, will hit 'reset' on career ...
ABQnews Seeker
Bryan Cranston is setting the record ... Bryan Cranston is setting the record straight. On Thursday, it was reported that he is retiring from acting in 2026. The award-winning 'Breaking Bad' ...