New Mexico students in-person classes canceled for first two weeks of the new year

Updated: Dec. 16, 2020 at 10:21 PM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - In-person classes for students in New Mexico are canceled following winter break.

A recent decision by the New Mexico Department of Health and the public education department will close schools for the first two weeks of the new year.

A recent decision by the Texas Education Agency allows schools to make the same decision if cases get bad enough.

“We were out of school starting in March of the last school year. So, we haven’t been in-person since March of 2020,” said Johnnie Cain, superintendent of Portales Municipal Schools.

Many students in Portales have not stepped into a classroom since the pandemic began.

“We haven’t been in-person other than the five to one since school started,” said Cain.

Cain says, counties that are in the red are not allowed to have in-person instruction, which at the moment is every county in the state.

They can however have some students on campus for the time being.

“We can have the five to one in pre-k to three and with special education students, those are the only kids we can bring back on campus,” said Cain.

Even the five to one scenario won’t be allowed the first two weeks in January.

Even special education students will need to learn virtually.

The Texas Education Agency is now allowing schools to close up to 14 days if too many teachers contract the virus.

Unlike in New Mexico, Laura Abernathy says it won’t be for everyone.

“They said ‘oh you can go 100 percent virtual, but, you have to still offer face to face instruction for any child of a parent that is an essential worker, anyone who is special education, anyone who doesn’t have a device’, which is all of AISD pre-k and k,” said Laura Abernathy, president of Amarillo AFT.

The TEA says a 14-day period would allow enough time for the virus incubation period to be complete.

“I do think they are saving those 14 days; I do know there was talk about using them before the Christmas break,” said Abernathy.

Abernathy says the Amarillo branch of the American federation of teachers has suggested to see what the COVID-19 numbers look like the first week of January when students are scheduled to return to school and decide then.

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