American Federation of Teachers New Mexico President Stephanie Ly, National Education Association-New Mexico President Mary Parr-Sanchez, and Rio Rancho School Employees Union President Billie Helean released the following statement:
“Despite scheduling vaccination events in conjunction with Rio Rancho Public Schools, Sandoval County, and the Sandoval Regional Medical Center and educational staff being included in New Mexico’s vaccination Phase 1B, the last minute cancellation of distribution of vaccines to Rio Rancho Public School Employees is a cruel and short-sighted decision by the New Mexico Department of Health.
“Our unions have been working collaboratively with the District since the beginning of the pandemic to ensure critical segments of our student population receive meaningful in-person education, and the availability and distribution of a vaccine to a large segment of our educational staff would have been the keystone for being able to serve even more students through in-person education.
“The reversal of the planned vaccine distribution coupled with the extremely short notice of such an announcement was doubly disappointing with the additional announcement of positive COVID-19 cases among the Rio Rancho school community.
“We, like many in the community – and throughout New Mexico – desperately want a return to the gold-standard of in-person learning for all students, however, vaccines are a critical component of this process. The health and safety of educators and students must remain our top priority, and lack of widespread access for all educational staff to receive a vaccine will only further delay our efforts to ensure a successful return. We call upon the New Mexico Department of Health to fully account for the shameful breakdown in this process and for an increased transparency about access and availability of the COVID-19 vaccine to New Mexico’s hardworking educator heroes.”