As Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham juggles the complex demands of the pandemic and its conflicting effect on small businesses, restaurants, public health and schools, parents, teachers and students across the country warily eye a return to in-person education.

A junior high school in Indiana opened up to students on one day, a student tested positive, and within hours, plans changed. According to an article in the New York Times, August 1, “Of the nation’s 25 largest school districts, all but six have announced they will start remotely, although some in places like Florida and Texas are hoping to open classrooms after a few weeks if infection rates go down….”  New Mexico will start remotely. The Albuquerque Public Schools Re-entry Plan “calls for school to begin the week of August 12 with the distribution of technology to all students, virtual home visits, and guidance for staff, students, and families on safely attending school and effectively learning at home.”

“Under the plan, which is subject to change depending on the spread of the coronavirus and public health orders, students would return to the classroom after Labor Day, September 7, on an every-other-week rotation Tuesdays-Fridays.” The rotation chosen “allows for more continuity of instruction with fewer transitions for students,” according to APS.

The plan applies to Corrales Elementary as well. To dive deep into the program and its ramifications, teachers and school staff were scheduled to return to school August 5. “The plan outlines steps for swiftly moving to remote learning if the spread of the coronavirus isn’t curtailed and public health orders still call for residents to mostly stay at home,” according to APS.

To read about APS’ thinking, see http://www.aps.edu/schools/reentry-plan. Sandia View Academy, the Seventh-day Adventist private high school at 65 Sandia View Lane, will re-open August 12, according to principal Chanda C. Castañeda. The school is offering a hybrid model, customized according to the needs of the student and parent.

“We offer a two-day on campus and three-day off campus program,” according to Castañeda, who encourages students to take electives on-campus. But, for those who choose to do electives from home, “students at home will be provided a list of supplies for art class, and ingredients, for cooking class, that they would need at home. They would follow the steps the teacher does via Zoom, our online learning platform.” http://sandiaviewacademy.org

Corrales’ Cottonwood Montessori School is registering now “for dynamic onsite and online school starting September 9.” For further information call the office at 897-8375. Bosque Prep is opening August 14, but working with what it calls a Model 3 plan for “remote teaching and learning.” Its Covid-19 influenced website, http://www.bosqueschool.org, is detailed and descriptive, and contains this explanation as to how state mandates dictate its programming.

“In a press conference on July 23, the governor mandated no in-person teaching and learning until at least Labor Day, September 7. As an independent school, Bosque does not fall under New Mexico Public Education Department guidelines and mandates, but we are considered a business and are bound to the State Public Health Orders that currently limit group gatherings to no more than five people and 25 percent occupancy limits.

“Under the current order, this means we would only be able to have classes of four students (a regular section is approximately 16 students). In order to bring students back to campus at this point, they would have to rotate through once every four to five days. We have therefore made the decision to start remotely, providing our students with five-day-a-week schooling.”

In a recent address to the APS Administrators Conference on Education, APS Interim Superintendent Scott Elder noted that “We’re definitely doing things differently this year, but the energy is much more nervous, excitement has been replaced with anxiety. And not much of what we've had to do of late can be classified as fun.”

“In my new job as the interim superintendent, I'm supposed to rally the troops, motivate the team. I will try my best to do that today, and each day as we move forward through this unconventional school year. To be straightforward. I read an article recently titled, “There Are No Right Decisions About This School Year.” I am just hoping to be less wrong.But I also promise to be honest with you.”

“First and foremost, we have to figure out how to educate our students —all of our students. And we have to make everyone feel safe, not just students and their families, but our teachers, our staff, and, yes, even ourselves. We can’t be effective if we don’t believe what we’re selling: a plan to safely educate students amid a contagious pandemic, despite the complications, frustrations, and stumbling blocks.”

“Remember that our students —and our staff, too— are returning from a traumatic life disruption, and we need to take extra steps to meet their social, emotional, and cognitive needs. Oddly, this might turn out to be a silver lining. “For a long time now, our students and families have been crying out for more social and emotional learning and support at school. There’s been a growing need for better understanding, more empathy, improved self-awareness and identity, and relationship building.

“Another goal of the Re-entry Plan is to equip our students with the knowledge, skills, capacities and resources to return to school with an increased ability to adapt to potentially changing scenarios.

“And finally, the third goal of the Re-entry Plan is to develop short and long-term learning goals for students. This goal centers on societal and educational disruption. Once again, I see this as an opportunity to personalize education for our students, meeting their needs while we teach them to be adaptable and capable, no matter the setting.”

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