New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has announced that New Mexico public education will shift to a learn-at-home model as schools remain closed for the rest of the academic year.
On March 27 during an on-line press conference. Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart said returning to normal operations April 6 was the original goal, but “it’s pretty clear that it is not yet safe to be able to bring our students back into school.”
“We’ve got extraordinary educators all over the state who are taking heroic actions to make sure they continue to stay engaged with their students, provide services to our students,” Stewart said. “We feed hundreds of thousands of kids every day. We have educators who have been creative in every possible way.”
Stewart said no qualifying high school senior will be denied the ability to graduate, and he said alternative learning opportunities will be available through mid-June. Individual schools and systems will create plans with seniors in mind.
Milestone moments for seniors still need to happen, he said, citing proms and graduation ceremonies.
“These events have to happen,” he said. “If that means we have to postpone them to a later date, we will look at the prevailing public health order at the time and make a decision as to when they can be held.”
Stewart said the PED is waiving instructional hours-requirements, but all schools are required to submit individual continuous learning plans. The plans include “making sure there is equitable access to learning programs for students who don’t have access to technology, for special needs students and for students who require additional supports to be able to thrive.”
The PED is asking districts and schools to move to a pass/no-credit system as opposed to traditional grading systems, Stewart said.
“This is not an attempt to replicate the schooling experience as it is experienced in the traditional school setting,” he said. “This is a time to really focus on providing instruction in the critical standards that our students need to meet [while] keeping our kids academically engaged, socially and emotionally connected.”
School employees will still be paid, Stewart said, noting all staff should be employed productively. There are detailed guidelines being sent out to school systems.
“People are not getting paid to not work,” he said. “[Everyone is] coming to the table with a mindset for collaboration.”
Visit www.newmexico.gov/education/school-closure-faq/ for more information.