Serving the High Plains

Draft offers glimpse of secondary school return

A draft from the New Mexico Public Education Department offers possible glimpses of how secondary students might return to in-person classes throughout the state.

Logan Municipal Schools superintendent Dennis Roch told school board members last week the agency’s COVID Toolkit draft was revealed during a recent meeting of the New Mexico School Superintendents Association.

He cautioned the draft “is not gospel; it could change.”

In general, the PED is considering options for small-group teaching, or cohorting, at schools for secondary students, somewhat similar to how elementary students are being taught in-person now.

One option, Roch said, was keeping students in one area of the school all day but moving the teachers to teach the assorted classes. This would lessen possible exposure avenues to COVID-19 among students.

Another option is what Roch called “summer school cohorting,” where students are taught one subject all day for three to four weeks, then another all-day subject for several more weeks, for the rest of the school year.

Yet another option was to group together students who are on the same career path and thus would take the same classes.

Roch said many other complicated details, such as lunches, periods between classes and students who would drive themselves to school, must be worked out to avoid student mixing before any such plan would be implemented.

“They’s why they’ve been delaying secondary kids coming back, because the variables are so much harder to consider,” he said.

Roch said news of the PED’s possible plans for secondary students made him hopeful “that it’s coming, but I don’t know it’s coming anytime soon” because of the recent upsurge of COVID-19 cases in the state.

Roch declined the Quay County Sun’s request to provide a copy of the PED’s draft, stating in an email he was “not comfortable” providing a copy before the agency publishes it.

Deborah Martinez, a media relations specialist for the PED, acknowledged in an email Friday the existence of the COVID Tookit draft for middle school and high school reopenings but did not provide a copy to the Quay County Sun before deadline.

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