Serving the High Plains

San Jon Schools superintendent doubtful on in-person classes

The superintendent of San Jon Municipal Schools said late in the school board’s meeting last week she doubted schools would reopen to in-person classes in mid-August.

Superintendent Janet Gladu said in her opinion, schools in New Mexico would have to open to online classes when the school year begins next month because of a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in the state.

Gladu weeks earlier had expressed optimism San Jon schools would reopen normally because class sizes would be under the required 50% occupancy rate, with an additional bus route the only substantial concession to virus safeguards.

On a related matter, the board approved a re-entry plan and assurances to the state Public Education Department for the upcoming school year.

The plan requires face coverings for all students and staff except while eating, drinking and exercising. Temperature checks would be required for staff entering the building and screening all students “to the extent practical.” Large group gatherings would be avoided and social distancing encouraged. Ill students or staff would be isolated until they can return home.

Gladu said the PED originally indicated it would fund additional instruction days if they were needed because of COVID-19 disruptions. However, Gladu said she heard that morning the state gave “no assurance” it would fund those extra days. She recommended rejecting the additional days because of that.

Gladu said if San Jon schools close because of the pandemic, she said teachers likely would instruct their students online from their classrooms. She said faculty members teaching from their homes is “a huge liability” to the district. She added special-education students also likely would come to the school for individualized instruction.

The 22-page re-entry plan is on the district’s website at under the “District Resources” tab.

In other business:

• The board chose one of 11 entries submitted for San Jon Coyotes floor decals for the district’s two gymnasiums. The winning design and its creator would be unveiled during a ceremony at a later date.

n The board approved a new salary schedule for the district’s employees. Teachers would receive a 1% raise this coming school year versus the 4% raise approved in the spring. The New Mexico Legislature reduced pay raises in June during a special session because of a cash crunch caused by COVID-19 and oil revenue declines.

• Gladu said the school carnival scheduled for October would be postponed because of the state’s health order. She said she hoped it could be rescheduled in the spring. Board members instructed her to give monthly status updates on the carnival.

• The board approved a lawn services bid from Joseph Benavidez. He would mow and trim the school grounds for $425 per session on an as-needed basis.

• The board heard about sick-leave updates created by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. It allows up to 80 hours of paid leave for COVID-19 reasons that won’t affect an employee’s regular sick-leave days.

• Gladu said she would recommend a closed campus during the upcoming school year but was open to revisiting the policy. She said during lunch, students would be assigned to a table and chair in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

• The board approved a request for proposals to hire a contract manager to oversee the district’s major bond or grant projects. Gladu estimated the cost would be from $30,000 to $60,000 over three years, but the board can reject such a proposal if they deem the cost too high. Gladu said the district had the cash balance for a project manager and noted those improvement projects likely will affect the district for 50 years. Board member Cynthia Lee expressed reluctance on the idea because of the financial uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

• The board tabled a decision on approving a nondiscrimination policy revision based on a federal Title IX update. Gladu said some of the updates include sections on cyberbullying.