Schools explore options for fall, summer programs open
Despite the declining rates of coronavirus cases in New Mexico and the gradual re-opening of the economy, the question of when and how schools will open this fall remains complex and uncertain. Last week, a task force was formed by the Public Education Department “to develop a reopening plan for schools as it seeks to balance public health concerns with needs to restart classroom learning ….” Among the critical points under discussion are the degree to which schools will be able to convene on campus in physical classrooms this fall, and how districts will manage COVID safe protocols if they do. At issue is not only the need to ensure that all students meet social distancing requirements and wear masks, but also the necessity of securing the extra resources to support additional custodial and nursing staff who can manage the increase in sanitizing, cleaning, and health checking that will need to be put into place. With schools scheduled to begin August 11th this year, the task force is under pressure to develop a plan that addresses concerns of parents, school staff, and a wide variety of district circumstances while remaining responsive to the shifting landscape of the pandemic as it unfolds over the next two months.
In the more immediate future, several summer programs, such as those offered by the Albuquerque YMCA, are re-opening and offering in-person activities and camps throughout the summer. In San Miguel County, the West Las Vegas School District decided to roll out its summer session in a distance-learning-only format. Sessions, which began Monday and will run through June, are held Monday – Thursday through Google classrooms, where teachers will engage with students online. The program will end June 25th. For more information or to enroll, contact your school principal or call Elaine Gonzales at 505-426-2563.
Pecos gets Wifi hotspots
Thanks to the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC) and the leadership efforts of Community Learning Network director Jennifer Case-Nevarez, the Pecos school district was able last week to acquire two new wifi hotspots for the school campus. The hotspots, both of which were mounted outside, will broadcast free wifi across a large portion of the parking lot and adjacent outdoor areas of the high school, middle school, and elementary school buildings. The points will enable students to use the school's high speed internet connection to complete online school assignments while being outdoors and remaining socially distanced. This increased access is significant within the Pecos community, where high speed broadband service is largely unavailable and cell service is spotty even in the center of town. The installation was provided at no cost from the ITDRC and the devices and coordination effort was donated by Case-Nevarez, who also runs New Mexico TechWorks. Thanks to everyone who helped facilitate this important step for digital equity in Pecos.
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