AFT Reacts To Governor’s Plan To Re-Open Schools

AFT News:

SANTA FE — American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and American Federation of Teachers New Mexico President Stephanie Ly released the following statement:

“Since the initial closure of in-person learning throughout New Mexico’s public education system, our union has maintained a collaborative approach to not only addressing the on-going needs of the students, families, and educators we serve, but have also laid the groundwork for today’s announcement of expanded opportunities for a safer return to in-person education.

“Driven by science, and prioritizing educator and student health and safety, re-opening New Mexico’s places of learning is the result of New Mexicans working together to mitigate community spread of COVID-19, the inclusion of educational staff in vaccine group 1B after high-risk New Mexicans, and the steadfast and heroic work of all education professionals throughout the pandemic.

“We are extremely pleased to see this plan’s embrace of continued COVID-safe practices, among them the strong efforts to safely accommodate high-risk educators, ventilation and classroom air filtration, on-going surveillance testing, sanitation protocols, adequate personal protective equipment, and transportation and isolation protocols. Coupled with local control, options for families to choose what is best for their student and keeping educator and student health in the forefront.

“We are also fortunate to be partnering with Governor Lujan Grisham and PED Secretary Stewart on the establishment of a framework to extend the protections contained in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and to ensure educational employees do not deplete personal leave in order to comply with COVID-related isolation policies resulting from in-person instruction or other on-site, job-related activities. Furthermore, we are collaborating on the enactment of provisions for retention compensation for educators who have been required to consistently work in-person throughout the pandemic.

“New Mexico educators appreciate Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Secretary Dr. Ryan Stewart’s strong commitment to our on-going partnership as stakeholders in this effort, and we celebrate our shared goal of safely returning to in-person instruction and education for the students, families, and communities we serve when each of the COVID-safe requirements are met and certified by the State.”