Schools plan for fall reopening
The New Mexico Public Education Department has released its full guidelines for reopening for schools across the state this coming fall. The recommendation, contained in the 25-page Reentry Guidance handbook, puts forth a phased approach to school opening based on the three stages of “remote” “hybrid” and “full re-entry.” Each district and school will begin with the hybrid phase, which combines on campus classroom learning with remote learning in a rotational schedule. Because the hybrid model divides the student population into separate groups, one of which studies remotely from home while the other learns in the traditional school classroom, it allows “the number of students present in the building at any given time …[to] be limited in order to ensure that six feet of social distancing can be maintained…..” The precise processes for implementing these guidelines, including rotation schedules and groupings, will be decided at the school and district level during the coming weeks.
The hybrid model will require all schools to follow current CDC and statewide recommended public health guidelines, which now include practicing social distancing and wearing face masks. Specifics for various school-day functions, such as transportation, meals, and transitions, are provided in the full Reentry Guidance handbook. In addition to the full handbook, PED has provided a summary of the minimum requirements for reentry and School Reentry Family Guidance document.
The goal is achieve progression through the phases that allows every school to move to full reentry as soon as possible. However, phasing will be based on public health data and conditions within each district and each region, and, depending on local data and conditions, districts may move unevenly through phases and will need to build flexibility into their planning.
Library, Lemonade, and Rummage Table
The El Valle Community Center and Villanueva Library celebrate summer with Saturdays Under the Tents. Join us in front of the Center from 10-1 to check out a library book, browse our summer rummage table, and cool off in the shade with a cold drink. Separate, well spaced tents facilitate social distancing.
June 27th, July 11th, and July 18th. Bring a mask and help us celebrate summer!
Building a safe-COVID business
As states re-open, many areas across the country have seen a rise in COVID-19 cases, a trend that, according to the Washington Post, has alarmed and drawn criticism from many European and world leaders. But in New Mexico, the pattern of cases and rate of infection has mostly continued to decline. The most recent figures from the New Mexico Department of Health modeling data show the rate of growth of COVID cases declining during the first week of June despite a slight increase following the memorial day holiday. This has allowed the state to continue to meet all its gating criteria and to move through re-opening with confidence and a continued commitment to COVID safe practices. To support businesses in maintaining those practices and showcasing their desire to protect staff and customers, the New Mexico Tourism Department is supporting a new NM Safe Certified Program. The program offers “free on-demand virtual COVID-Safe Practices training modules designed to help businesses create a safe and responsible environment for employees and customers.” The certification helps promote COVID safety while functioning as “a recognizable brand across all industries to assist in building consumer confidence.” The program offers a range of trainings targeted to specific types of businesses (restaurants, retail, salons) as well as other benefits,
such as access to a PPE procurement collective and digital advertising credit of up to $2000 in New Mexico Magazine.
Education: budget cuts and re-opening recommendations
As the special legislative session kicks off, schools are awaiting final decisions on budgeting that will impact their funding during the coming year. The budget adjustments required by the impact of the coronavirus on all sectors of the economy, including the oil and gas revenues on which the state depends heavily, have the potential to decrease funding for some educational programs and resources. According to Santa Fe School Superintendent Veronica Garcia, as quoted in the NM Political Report, proposed cuts could compel larger “classroom size, reduce[d] programming” and fewer support staff “such as social workers, librarians, nurse aides and nurses.”
Amidst these concerns, the School Re-entry Task Force submitted its recommendations for reopening schools to the New Mexico Public Education Department yesterday.
The recommendations, which are brief, make broad suggestions around issues such as safety, hygiene, meals, and transportation, but shy away from precise directives or specifics of implementation. According to the the introductory statement from the Task Force, the New Mexico Public Education Department will be incorporating these suggestions into what will presumably be a more detailed guidance document for districts, such as those created by other states.
El Valle Community Center plans commodities distribution for seniors
The El Valle Community Center is working to become a local distribution hub for the ECHO commodities program that provides free food for local seniors who meet the income and regional guidelines. The ECHO program (Economic Council Helping Others), which is part of the larger commodities supplemental food program, would serve residents in the El Valle corridor and nearby communities as far east as Bernal, but would not include Las Vegas. If you or someone you know is interested in participating in the program, or you would like to help volunteer with the distribution, please email the center or call 575-421-0808. Make sure to leave your name and phone number - we will be in touch!!
Business Community Recovery
Although economic recovery can be slow and patterns of tourism have generally declined as a result of the COVID outbreak, economic development organizations are re-visioning strategies and providing new guidance in response to these changing circumstances. The New Mexico Economic Development Department, in partnership New Mexico Main Street, recently hosted a free webinar dedicated to building community development recovery strategies. The presentation, which targets community leaders, offers a general framework and specific suggestions that can be useful for individual businesses or business clusters. These suggestions include: shifting marketing strategies to accommodate “new consumer habits” and heightened safety concerns; increasing the use of outdoor spaces to provide better social distancing options for shoppers; and providing regular “welcome back” media and mini-events that invite residents and visitors back to the business district. You can review the full presentation here or browse the full selection of recorded webinars on the New Mexico Main Street website.
This month, a free summer program for middle school students will introduce sixth, seventh, and eighth graders to health and science careers through a series of interactive and engaging online sessions. The program, which will take place June 15-19th, consists of an hour-long interactive presentation each day. Each session is led by a regional health and science professional, including faculty from UNM, Highlands University, and Luna Community College, and topics highlight both the excitement of careers in the scientific, medical, and health fields and the impact these professions have on individual lives, families, and communities. Through a combination of fun, engagement, and learning, the camp will provide participants with an early experience of careers that are challenging, highly rewarding and deeply meaningful.
The health and science career camp begins Monday June 15th and has several available openings still remaining. Orientation will take place this Friday 12 June, so families should register interested middle school children as soon as possible. To register, click the "Register Here" link on the program flier or register here. The camp is free of charge but requires access to a computer for Zoom and a reliable internet connection. For questions, please contact the El Valle Community Center at 505-660-3434
More about reopening
Businesses and facilities are continuing a gradual, phased re-opening process this week, in compliance with the most recent expansion guidelines. While the general requirements for social distancing and the use of face masks remain in effect, restaurants are now open for indoor dining at 50% capacity. Yet for many small businesses, attracting customers and recouping income lost during the pandemic is still a challenge, as tourist traffic remains limited and clients remain cautious about visiting small enclosed shop spaces or eateries. Some smaller cities have addressed this challenge on a community-wide level: in Silver City, the town organized several blocks of street closures to create an open-market style atmosphere, “allowing restaurants and other downtown businesses to spill into the streets — and hopefully generate more sales as they struggle to recover.”
In other areas, summer temperatures pushed visitors and residents outdoors; many state and local parks, most of which are now open, drew hikers, campers, and small groups of picnickers eager to get outdoors. To meet the increased need for physical activity and programming during the summer months, the Las Vegas Abe Montoya Recreation Center will reopen it facilities starting Monday 8 June. Initial activities available at the Recreation Center will be limited to Fitness and Wellness. At this time, the swimming pool and gymnasium are not open, and the summer camp and activities programs are not operating. More a schedule of hours, please consult the full announcement or call the Recreation Center at (505) 426-1739.
More about summer activities for children
Despite the closure of many traditional programs due to the coronavirus, New Mexico continues to offer resources and support for activities and programming for children during the summer. The New Mexico State Summer Youth Programs web page provides an alphabetical listing of current summer programs for children in New Mexico, which includes many online exhibits from museums and historic sites, as well as specific online programs made available through the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.
New Mexico Kids also offers a well developed listing of home learning resources for parents and families that can inspire hours of learning and engagement.
In Las Vegas, the joint efforts of the 100% Community group partners, including collaboration among several action teams, have created the Mask Parade Giveaway, an initiative designed to communicate a message of “safety, hope and joy to San Miguel county youth and families during this unprecedented period of great need and limited resources.” The event, which is a vehicle parade, will take place Saturday 20 June, between 11-1. The parade route will center around New Mexico Highlands University’s Melody Park and will feature stops along the way for information, give-aways, and goodies. The final stop will bring participants to a parking area where they can confirm or complete their census filing and enter a prize drawing for one of several gift cards, including one $500 grand prize card. Don’t miss this fun, exciting event for the entire family. For more information, refer to the local Community 100% website
or call the El Valle Community Center at 575-421-0808.
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