By BONNIE J. GORDON
Los Alamos Daily Post
New Mexico Education Secretary Ryan Stewart announced March 8 that New Mexico schools must return to full-time in person learning by April 5.
The staff of Los Alamos Public Schools was surprised, but immediately sprang into action.
The Los Alamos School Board met in a special session March 12 to discuss reopening in person instruction on a full-time basis.
The School Board passed a resolution to return to full-time in person learning April 5 unanimously, although several members noted that LAPS does not have a choice about complying with the state’s order.
“LAPS has a detailed plan for re-entry,” Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus said. “I want to thank the students, staff and parents for sticking with us through all of this.”
Eight weeks or almost a full quarter remain in the school year. The full curriculum will be offered, Steinhaus said. LAPS has installed shade structures to increase access to outdoor learning.
“We’re following the science,” Steinhaus said. “Airflow and the wearing of masks are the most important things to avoid getting COVID-19.”
Elementary students have a voluntary option to attend grades K-6 in June to help them catch up with missed classroom learning opportunities.
Steinhaus announced that 99 percent of school staff have been offered the vaccine at this time.
Teachers are, of course, highly interested in the process of returning to classrooms.
When 125 teachers showed up to meet with Steinhaus about the reopening, they divided into work groups, each group producing a document about some aspect of the reopening.
Students in grades K-8 have the option of remaining in the Online Learning Academy, which offers full-time online instruction. The Academy will continue next year.
“This is a sea change for the high school,” Principal Carter Payne said. “It’s a big mindset shift for the staff to be teaching live. A few students will continue online learning at home, but physically being in school has been such a boom for the majority of students. This August, we plan to build on everything we’ve learned to be better than ever.”
Middle School Principal Suzanne Lynne said the hybrid model provided a nice bridge back to full-time in person learning.
“We’re looking forward to nurturing our students,” she said.