National, State, and Local News

APS/ATF/AFCP JOINT MEMORANDUM: Setting A Tone As We Plan For The Unknown

APS Continuous Learning Plan (CLP) Questions and Answers for the Week of April 20, 2020

The answers (below in blue) are based on questions sent to act@atfunion.org between 4/13 and 4/17. The answers have been agreed upon between APS and ATF.

 

General

  • There has been some confusion about accessing classrooms. Employees are allowed in schools but should stay in their classrooms/offices. No need to call security, but please contact your principal/supervisor first. Also, some people think there is a 15-minute limit. That is not true.
  • Is there a reason we are being told to take the Spring testing proctor course even though we aren’t doing spring testing?  This just seems silly. I’m not usually one to complain, but this really seems unnecessary. Because some testing was completed before schools shut down, all principals and testing coordinators should have completed their training. APS must certify to the PED that training had been completed, so even though there will be no more testing if coordinators had not completed the training they still need to do it. Only testing coordinators and principals are required to take the training. Staffs are not.
  • Were there any coronavirus cases at schools other than Del Norte? The answer from the district was that there had been some difficult situations. What does this mean?  Would we be told if there were cases at our school? Classes have now been out for 5 weeks, so any passing of the virus is no longer occurring at schools. For this reason, announcing who is ill would only serve to breach confidentiality. NM Department of Health is reaching out to people who may have come in contact with people who test positive.
  • Should principals have been collecting keys and going through the end of the year procedures like having educators clean out their classrooms? No. Principals should not be taking keys. The school year is not over. Teachers should not be cleaning out classrooms either.
  • We are being forced to give the district a daily schedule of how we are teaching kids with teaching blocks that far exceed the required minutes. It’s a lie, and what happens when we get caught in the lie?  Also, these fictitious school schedules assume that those learning times will work for all families and it is ridiculous. We were also told that the District realizes that we might not be able to reach all students online, oh well, then we teach that smaller class. I am so not OK with that idea. It is my job to differentiate so all kids have access to learning should they choose. Look at sample schedules in CLP. And check your site CLP. APS is not asking employees to exceed the minutes suggested. If you have a school specific issue, contact ATF at act@atfunion.org.

Technology

  • I am a veteran teacher and not enough training has gone on to do lessons online.  Our school keeps sending me to view videos and still I am lost. We are being pressured and not enough training has been given. What can be done?
    APS is working on more resources and PD modules. You can put in a ticket (APS intranet under C&I link) and someone will contact you. Or email milazzo@aps.edu or jacobson_j@aps.edu. Also, if you need some basic “how to” computer information, contact: edtech@aps.edu. The help desk is still up and running. Call: 830-8080 or email: servicedesk@aps.edu.
  • As tech savvy as I claim to be… I did not know that we could add our APS email to Google Docs. It might be a good idea to spell that out for others along with how easy it is to do – and what to do when you reopen your computer and it defaults to a personal email. Some people in the district have been using it for years while others had no idea.
    Call the help desk or edtech@aps.edu
  • What are the specific problems using Zoom instead of Google Meet? Security in Zoom is still problematic. There have been instances when a zoom class has been “invaded” by inappropriate content here in APS. It would require training to use it securely as a classroom format.
  • I am wondering if you can make any inroads on an issue regarding grades. I feel strongly that students should have the option of selecting their last six-week letter grade or a P/F for the semester. I have several students who have worked super hard including joining an accelerated class within my class to do extra work in chemistry. They have A’s and A+’s and it breaks my heart that they will end up with the same grade as someone who has a D- mostly from copying. Is there any way it could be a choice? That way kids with A’s and B’s can still have that on their transcripts and kids with C’s and D’s could have the pass. It seems like a win/win for everyone. So far, there doesn’t seem to be a way to overcome the technological inequities that would impact class rankings. Even the idea of student choice on how they want to be graded would still be negatively impacted for those who do not have access to technology and the Internet. APS made this decision because it was the most fair. Educators should strive to give individual students meaningful feedback.
  • We are allowing families to check out Chromebooks from the carts at our school. We fear that many of them may not be returned for the next school year and this will lessen student access to our mobile computer carts. Will lost technology be replaced by the District? APS is hopeful that devices will be turned in. As the administrator of the device, APS Ed Tech has the ability to disable missing devices to make sure student information is secure. APS has money to purchase additional devices and they will be used to replenish missing or damaged Chromebooks, etc. In fact, APS actually has more Chromebooks available for students and does not have to limit distribution to 1 per family.

Developmental Pre-K

I have a couple of questions and concerns about the continuous learning plan for preschool. As you may or may not know Developmental Preschool Classrooms (DPC) has never been a part of NM Pre-K. We were told that starting next year (2020-2021) that was going to change and we would now be required to follow all of PED’s rules so that we are able to get verified. During this very stressful time, it seems as though they have already combined DPC and NM Pre-K under one umbrella. We have a coach who we meet with once a week, who we have never met in person before. They are also requiring us to submit a lesson plan every week. They are requiring us to have TWO thirty minute face-to-face interactions every day with our students. They are also requiring us to take attendance of our students, which is not to be done. Not to mention that DPC Teachers are required to still schedule, write, conduct our student’s annual and progression IEP’s and attend new IEPs because they are still placing new students in our classrooms at this time. We also have to update all of our students on our caseload PWN’s to reflect technology use.

I am just a little frustrated and concerned because I feel the biggest message that is being seen across the board is to extend grace but I feel that is not true for the DPC Teachers. I feel as though I am getting two sets of information one from my principal and one from the Early Childhood Department, and to be honest I would rather follow my principal’s guidance because expectations are the same for everyone across the board. K-5 teachers do not have half the requirements that we do, they are allowed to do pre-recorded lessons that allow families flexibility so that they are able to watch it when they can. They are also not required to take attendance or submit any lesson plans. I just feel like everyone is getting leniency and we are not. I understand the importance of Early Childhood but all teachers should be treated equally across the board.

We were also told today that we are required to hold live office hours on top of our two thirty minute sessions. They also said we are required to submit Entry/Exit ECO scores for all of our students. These scores get submitted to the state. But my question is how are we supposed to score our students on social emotional and self help skills above many other things when most of our families are in crisis mode. I don’t think that is fair. In my opinion, it’s essentially just submitting a false score. We were told that we are required to do all of this because of state funding. But I find this very funny because as a DPC teacher we see NO money in our classrooms. NM Pre-K gets funding every year for supplies, we do not. All of this just seems very unfair and I’m not happy, which I’m not the only one.

Another developmental pre-k

We received the following communication from a practice based coach who will be guiding us through setting up instruction this week: “All preschool teachers are to provide copies of their weekly lesson plans to their administration, PreK Coach, and then placed in the lesson plan binder for video conferencing, email or other media, or packets for pick up. Normally, lesson plans are posted on the parent communication board and then stored in the classroom’s lesson plan binder. All preschool teachers, general and special education, will develop lesson plans using the NMPED FOCUS required template.”

It is my understanding that the negotiated agreement says we do not have to turn in lesson plans nor do we have to use a required template. I intend to bring this up during our video conference today and would like to have confirmation from you if possible prior to the meeting (8:30 am).

Can you tell me how this will be addressed with the preschool department and when the notification will be made?

The NM PED FOCUS is the guiding document for all public school preschool programs: special and general education.  During school closure and then the development of the APS Continuous Learning Plan, Preschool -12 Early Childhood found a way to support the teachers of preschool across the district. Many of the activities for general education preschool are not asked of preschool special education due to the fact that they are not familiar with many of the FOCUS requirements.

As you may imagine distance learning is not designed for young children. We are matching the expectations from the PED for preschool classrooms across the state and then making adjustments as insurmountable road blocks appear.

  • Recording the meeting with children has been canceled
  • Preschool special education teachers are not required to use the lesson plan template from the PED during this school closure
  • Office hours will match what the school site has stated for K-5
  • Practice-Based Coaching is replaced with consultation and support model
  • Educational Assistants involvement has been modified

We will continue to make changes to the plan as we experience the need. 

Pre-K Coaches are providing a preschool collaborative check-in every two weeks for one 30-45 minute meeting. The meetings are to provide an opportunity for the teachers to share what is working, what is not, and find solutions that have been discovered.

Daily 30-minute video meetings with 10 or fewer children in a session.  If the family does not have technology, other means to make contact are required to check in on the young children and provide learning activities. 

Using the lesson plan template that is required of all PED preschool teachers is not required at this time from special education preschool teachers. If they feel they can start to explore the template, that is great. Next school year, all APS preschool teachers will use the required template.

Attendance is not taken through Synergy just paper pencil for the teacher’ records. They will not turn it in to anyone but recording it is advisable.

APS Continuous Learning Plan (CLP) Questions and Answers from the week of April 6th

The answers (below in blue) are based on questions sent to act@atfunion.org between 4/6 and 4/9. The answers have been agreed upon between APS and ATF.

Elementary

  • Will assignments need to be graded? The requirement is that meaningful feedback should be provided, but not grades.
  • What happens with report cards? Ongoing meaningful feedback to students is important. Guidance on communication to parents through the SBPR will be forthcoming.
  • Why are we requiring only 60 mins of learning a day for 2nd graders but then wanting them to check in two or three times a day? How will they have time/ability to do that in families with siblings who are also trying to get their work done online? We will know the work is complete when they submit it (Google Classroom). The CLP recommends checking in at least 2 times per week with students
  • Are we allowed to teach Stepping Stones? You can use Stepping Stones as one of the resources you use to re-teach concepts and deepen students’ understanding of concepts.
  • Is there a way to have the standards being taught on PBS in advance so we can do lessons on the same topics? NM PBS has a detailed version of the lessons on their website. A menu of what is taught, times, and supplies needed for lessons will be forthcoming from APS.
  • Alternative Calendar schools were asked to complete the missing marks in the first-trimester section of the progress report. With all of the problems and time-consuming solutions offered by the district, the first-trimester progress report should stand as it is. No more work should be required by teachers for the mistakes made by others. A teacher at our school emailed SIS about this matter and received the response that it would be good to finish the missing marks, but it was not required. How should we proceed regarding this matter? (Personal Opinion: We are fed up with this first-trimester nonsense and ready to let it die. This will certainly be a strange looking 2019-2020 progress report card, but that’s life. Let’s move on.) You do not need to fill in the first-trimester progress reports.

Middle School

  • We are required to meet with our Advisory class for one hour, twice a week and assign independent student work for the other three days of the week – FOR ADVISORY.  In addition, we have to create Google classrooms for all classes and provide supplemental work to the online programs we use; as well as hold office hours for 2 hours per day M-Th. Am I required to do this much for Advisory?   The Advisory decision is site-specific and will be discussed by the principal and Zone Associate Superintendent. Scheduled office hours allow students a time when they know their teacher can respond to their questions, etc. It also helps teachers avoid being “on” all the time.
  • Middle School Grades: As per the CLP, all Middle School students will pass this year. To save teachers work APS SIS will be placing a “P” in Synergy for all middle schoolers.

High School

  • We had a staff meeting today and the PowerPoint we were shown said no new curriculum, assignments/activities are optional and will be graded. However, admin said they will NOT be graded. Are students getting graded on new work we put online? We were told to focus on students that aren’t passing. If they complete make-up work, will it be graded and added in as points so we can see if their overall grade is passing or not? I think once teens figure out they aren’t getting graded, they will stop trying to complete the activities we put out there. What kinds of work are we expected to put up if we aren’t grading them and if students are going to put effort in once they find out work isn’t being graded?      You are encouraged to have a holistic view of student progress and knowledge. The unexpected move to distance teaching and learning leaves many teachers and students scrambling to adapt to new instructional methods and expectations. At this time of transition, it may be difficult to accurately identify a student’s learning with a level of specificity. We are advising that teachers take a holistic approach to gauging a student’s understanding of the essential standards and skills addressed during the semester rather than a more granular view of individual assignments and grades.
  • Does instruction for seniors end May 22 like everyone else or earlier like normal? Does the end date vary based on who is passing or failing? So basically, how long do seniors’ teachers need to provide assignments and when will their grades be due? Instruction will end on May 21st. Students who were not passing before the school closure will continue to be required to complete assignments up to May 21st. If lessons are engaging and meaningful, students who were passing will probably stay engaged. It is the hope that parents will help maintain student attendance.
  • APS keeps saying high school classes will be thirty minutes of stuff but they can’t exceed three hours a day as PED says. Thirty minutes of seven classes exceeds three hours. They need to be saying 25 minutes a day per a class….  The CLP needs to be edited and 25 minutes will be the stated time.

Teaching and learning

  • We are being asked to spend 1 hour per week on feedback related to content and 8 hours per week in an advisory / SEL related role. I understand that these times pose particular needs in the SEL realm, but most of us are not trained social workers, counselors, and/or SEL experts. We are also being told that if we are teaching something that gives students a leg up next year over another student, that we are in violation of the CLP.  NO NEW LEARNING! What exactly are we supposed to teach?  In an English class, it’s easy.  I can have students read something new and apply new skills.  However, in Social Studies, we’re being told we cannot include any new content. If it’s in a standard that we haven’t covered, we aren’t allowed to teach it. How is that doing the students, parents, and society a service? The request in the CLP is to provide assignments that ask students to apply previous learning and deepen understanding which will allow them to use those skills when encountering new concepts. Think: Depth of Knowledge (DOK) Levels 3 & 4.
  • With proper precautions, why can’t certified teachers be trusted to properly manage a live, interactive classroom? I think I know why. Liability. It’s not about trust or liability, but about scheduling. If you can schedule, you can do it but be mindful of conflicts within families. We cannot penalize students for not being able to log on, especially when we can’t know the reasons.
  • I was told to not teach ‘new material’. The only problem is that most of what I teach is ‘new’. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be teaching anybody anything. Question: What is considered ‘new material’ and who is going to be deciding what is ‘new material’? The request in the CLP is to provide assignments that ask students to apply previous learning and deepen understanding will allow them to use those skills when encountering new concepts. Think: DOK Levels 3 & 4.

Procedures

  • Do we take daily attendance? No, however, taking notes on student attendance, as part of progress monitoring will help you know which students need a “check-in”.
  • We have been told that we can record our meetings, as playback for students who cannot join, as long as we let the students know they are being recorded.  Is this correct?
    • As a parent: how do I keep some creep of a parent from recording my daughter during her Google Meets time with her teacher. Students/parents can’t record from their view. When teachers record, a link is sent to participants so that students can revisit the lesson. Turn off the camera if you do not feel comfortable.

General work questions

  • Will my personal days rollover to next year since I was unable to use them?      The contract is still the contract. Page 61 of the APS/ATF Negotiated Agreement states: “One (1) day of leave with pay each year is granted to an employee for personal matters which require the employee’s absence during school hours. This leave may be accumulated up to five (5) day.” Note: accrued personal leave over 5 days rolls over into sick leave.
  • What do we do if we get sick (not Coronavirus)? Can we hold off on video meetings if we are sick? You can use sick leave if you are unable to work. You should call in these absences to SEMS. If you need to reschedule a class you can. A buddy teacher is also recommended in case you need some help adhering to your schedule.
  • Uniformity of work expectations across the district.
    • Are we expected to do report cards at the end of the year? We just completed report cards and P/T conferences.
    • The CLP says “no new teaching”, however, my principal has said that we should write progress and feedback on report cards. *See elementary answer
  • Are teachers expected to teach live for the given learning times on the table (ex: 1st grade 45 minutes)? Some schools are saying that their teachers must be live rather than uploading videos or activities. You have flexibility as to the delivery of instruction, but you need to check in with students. There is an important social emotional component to actual interactions.
  • “Pull-out” teachers (Gifted, SPED, etc.) have difficulty scheduling around general education teachers. Schools and educators need to develop protocols for this. There are 5 pages of CLP guidelines for SPED starting on page 24.
  • It was brought to my attention in a librarian meeting that there are many librarians across the district who work Part-Time at one or 2 Schools. Do we have guidance for them about how to spend their work time? If you have questions about coordinating with two principals, reach out to ATF. Library services provides this information: If this aligns with guidance for other half-time/at two schools teachers/other personnel, we would recommend the following for librarians:  Teacher-librarians who are half-time at two schools: *Should work to support both school communities, while making sure not to work beyond their contract day in total.  *Aim to split their time equally but flexibly; this is a difficult situation and flexibility will be needed. *Have their principals encouraged to give them a great deal of understanding as we all work to figure out how to split schedules in a Continuous Learning Model. *Reach out to Library Services for extra support, if needed. Library Services can help with orders, resources, etc. Having two schools is always a challenge and Library Services wants to offer support however it is needed. *Be prepared to make modifications as the weeks go on and we learn how to best provide Continuous Learning while also giving everyone involved flexibility. Teacher-librarians who are half-time at one school: *Should work their contractual hours, in total, but with flexibility if needed. *Determine schedules collaboratively with administrators and fellow teachers, in order to provide support while also giving everyone the flexibility that so many of us need right now. Managing a half-time schedule is always a challenge Library Services wants to offer support however it is needed.  The above can be adjusted to better align with the APS/ATF contract/current arrangements/other role groups. 
  • What is the role of the Teacher Leader Facilitators?  Are they responsible for creating schedules? TLFs are still there to support the teacher learning at their school. They might need to help build in collaboration time in the schedule.
  • Our leadership is requiring us to collaborate weekly? I didn’t see that in the CLP.  Is that supposed to occur?  Collaboration is still important, maybe more than ever. The times that grade levels or subject teams collaborate is a site-based decision.
  • We were told yesterday at IC that we are supposed to document 8 hours per week that we are working. No formal documentation is being collected. One other thing to note: pg. 10 of the CLP states,” Teachers may find they have to scale back and adjust after the first week.”  Page 47 of the APS CLP has at the bottom of the page, “Consider the following: Establish a set schedule and routine for educators The APS Site-Specific Continuous Learning Plan – due from principals, with input from ICs, to Zone Associates April 13- has a place to share a schedule of instruction.
  • I just wanted to tell you that today we found out that our admin team is going to have us do about 60 extra IEPs.  As far as we could tell, we only had about 35 IEPs left to do this year. Our principal told us that the “District” gave her a list of IEPs due next year that they wanted us to do now. This has never been done before. It is actually against the rules. I think that they just want to take this opportunity to exploit us some more. The IEPs that need to be done for the remainder of the year are:                                                                                   
  • Annual IEPs that were scheduled March 12 – March 27 because schools were closed and 1,111 IEPs were scheduled during those 2 weeks.   
  • Annual IEPs that were scheduled for the remainder of the school year April  6-  May 22.                                                                                                                             
  • Any additional IEP that a school or parents request to schedule during the         remainder of the year.
  • Annual IEPs that are due within the first month of school – through September 1,  2020….we usually have the IEPs that are due August and September before school is out because it is extremely difficult for a teacher to know their students well during the first weeks of school….No one is exploiting anyone – we do this every year as standard practice – it is actually better for the student because the teacher that actually knows the student is doing their IEP.  
  • This year – because of the difficulty to schedule IEPs – we are only requiring schools to schedule IEPs that are due in August instead of August and September.  So we (the APS Special Education Administration) are actually trying to help teachers out in this hard situation.
  •  It is not a new procedure – it has been given to head teachers for a number of years and is the expectation.                                                                                           
  • Rules and Rights
  • What are my teacher rights with regards to videotaping my distance learning lessons? I feel extremely uncomfortable with this when it was discussed today at our staff meeting. There was a staff member telling us we had to. Teachers can but are not required to record their lessons.
  • We are told at Bandelier that we may not read books in Google Classroom without emailing each title to the librarian) first.  Can you clarify if this is the expectation per the district? It goes against my understanding of fair usage.  Besides, isn’t it about time to put the kids before the corporations?  Let me know if I have to get the librarian’s permission or not to do read-alouds. You can record yourself reading a book as long as you cite the title, author, illustrator, and publisher.  
  • How many meetings with admin are we supposed to have in a week during this time? This will be site-specific. The first couple of weeks are requiring a lot of collaboration and communication. Going forward, work with ATF on this issue.

Technology and technical support

  • If we maintain a specific Google Meets link for meeting with students, won’t students be able to get on and “hang out” with their friends unsupervised at any time? Guidance on how to stop this from happening is on the Ed Tech website and will be going out to principals soon. https://sites.google.com/aps.edu/educational-technology/google or look at https://www.controlaltachieve.com/2020/04/no-join-meet.html?m=1
  • Can any teacher “choose” not to do any live videos? Yes. But you should use online tools to “check-in” with students and monitor understanding.
  • I have had questions about what to do if teachers don’t have internet access at home. Let your administrator know if you do not have access to internet. You may use your designated time in the classroom to log on to the internet. More information will be coming on this.
  • Why is the district pushing to lend Chromebooks to so many students if they are not going to be graded on future work? Student learning is the goal. 
  • Our home wifi is limited and most likely will not support my children and I online at once all at once. Is there support for this? Do your best to build a flexible schedule.
  • Am I required to complete IEPs for my students using my personal cell phone, because I do not have a home phone? I am not willing to expose my personal cell phone to parents. When I am at school, I use APS phones exclusively to contact parents. What support is available to me as I will most likely need to upgrade my home wifi to support my job and my children’s responsibilities for school. My older son’s classwork is crucial to his graduation credits and academic standing.    What are my options for getting IEPs done? I am not willing to use my personal cell phone. *67 will block your phone number from caller ID. Use Google Meets to set up a phone call. Using Hangouts, you can make a phone call from your computer. (Go to Ed Tech website)
  • Why aren’t there more Ed Tech classes offered through APS? See schedule of trainings here. Webinars/trainings are being recorded for future availability. Email edtech@aps.edu with specific questions.
  • What internet can we use if ours is inadequate or keeps dropping the connections? The city is setting up hot spots many of which are school site (https://www.cabq.gov/coronavirus-information/wifi) and staff should have access to the building and their classrooms following the school schedule.
  • If we distance ourselves from others, use masks, etc can we use our portables or classrooms for the APS internet?
    Yes, staff should have access to the building and their classrooms following the school schedule. The CLP does not designate specific school schedule, the school does. The limit is one person at a time in any one place and strict 6ft minimum distancing.
  • The April 3 Joint Memo (4th paragraph) states:  For those of you who don’t have a laptop and/or Internet: APS will disseminate a plan to use the school building in shifts. Specifically, access to phones to call families, computer access, instructional materials, and other work that needs to be done from the room. The plan will include a “do’s and don’ts” list. For example, staff may ONLY enter their own room. They cannot congregate in the lounge or enter any other spaces. Social distancing is an absolute imperative. If an educator needs to access the workroom, there should be only one person in the workroom at a time, and then sanitize any equipment that was used immediately after.
  • Some parents have requested hard copies of tasks similar to the homework assigned before the school closure. Our Administrators have said there no additional access to the school outside of food service and custodial personnel. Teachers have asked for further clarification on this discrepancy. Staff should have access to the building and their classrooms following the school schedule. Materials that are dispersed in hard copy should be essential to learning. Otherwise, using online materials is best practice.

 

ATF Communications Since School Closures 2020

The following Email Communications can be downloaded at https://atfunion.org/download/atf-communications-3-12-20-4-20-20/

Principal Survey, New CLP Q & A, Teaching Support, Absentee Ballot April 20, 2020

June Primary, Census Competition, Principal Survey, Termination Notices, PED Panel  April 16, 2020

CLP Q & A, Distance Resources & Support, Principal Survey, & Census 2020 April 13, 2020

Fed Rep of the Year, New AFT Benefit, & More (Members-Only) April 8, 2020

Take the APS/ATF Principal Survey & More April 6, 2020

APS/ATF CLP Info, NM PED Licensure Info, APS Evaluation Guidelines & More April 3, 2020

Spring Break, Evaluations Suspended, Census Day, Your Union’s Website  April 1, 2020

VERY IMPORTANT: OPEN TODAY!!!   March 30, 2020

Contract Negotiations Have Begun, Governor’s FAQ, & PED Info   March 24, 2020

School Climate Matters! Read the Teacher’s Voice. Take the Principal’s Survey.  March 23, 2020

Lots of Clarifications and Information   March 20, 2020

APS/ATF Joint Letter on Work Expectations & School Closures     March 19, 2020

Work Expectations, Helping Others, Progress, Reaching Out to Students  March 18, 2020

NM Gets a Shout Out on MSNBC, AFT History Video, APS Educator Stories March 17, 2020

Updates: COVID-19 Information and ways to stay engaged  March 16, 2020

Time on your hands? Nominate Your Fed Rep for Fed Rep of the Year! and more March 16, 2020

DON’T WORRY BE HEALTHY!    March 13, 2020

COVID-19 Information & School Closures  March 12, 2020

 

Governor: K-12 school closings must continue to prevent potential spread of COVID-19

Mar 27, 2020 | Press Releases

SANTA FE – New Mexico public education will shift to a learn-at-home model as schools remain closed for the rest of the academic year, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and state education and child care officials announced Friday.​

The decision is part of a two-pronged plan to protect New Mexicans from COVID-19 and ensure that children are protected, fed and educated and that families are supported through this crisis.

The governor previously ordered all public schools closed for three weeks, March 16-April 3, but warned at the time that an extension could be needed. It came Friday with a new executive order that extends the closing through the end of the school year. The executive order can be found here. See answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the order here.

New Mexico had 136 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases as of Thursday afternoon, including some that are being investigated as community spread, the state Health Department said. School closings are designed to minimize community spread.

“We’re working very hard to contain the virus, and we have to continue to take aggressive steps to mitigate the spread and protect New Mexicans of every age all across the state. It is more important than ever that we make sure all New Mexicans are heeding the imperative to stay home,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “Keeping schools closed is one of the most important tools we have to support the social distancing that can help us reduce and mitigate the spread of the virus.”

“Schools will not be required to make up the missed instructional days between March 16 and April 3, but for the remaining weeks of the school year to be waived, districts must develop both technology-based and non-technology-based continuous learning plans,” Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart said.

“We know that this decision will have tremendous implications for our families, but we must act to keep our communities safe and healthy,” Stewart said. “We also know that we have extraordinary teachers, support staff and school administrators in New Mexico. If the temporary closure period has shown us anything, it’s that our creative educators and school support staff are committed to meeting the academic, social and emotional needs of our students in challenging circumstances.”

High school credits will be awarded based on flexible approaches, including completion of work, demonstration of competency for course completion and expanded equivalency like work experience. The Public Education Department also recommends schools move to pass/no credit rather than grades during this period.

“While it can be difficult to view the current situation with anything beyond anxiety and apprehension, we believe the wide-reaching consequences of this moment present a tremendous opportunity to transform education to serve all students, especially students who have traditionally been furthest from opportunity,” said Deputy Secretary Kara Bobroff.

“The decisions we make today are made with all of our students in mind. During this unprecedented time, we will continue to build into the public education system healing opportunities for students, families, communities and all New Mexicans,” she said.

Public colleges and universities are not included in the closure order, but most have either extended their spring breaks, moved classes online or both.

School-based health centers, educational programming for youth in facilities, and licensed child care facilities (centers and homes) serving workers whose jobs have been deemed essential will continue operating.

The closing plan includes these provisions:

SPECIAL NEEDS
Students with special needs will receive all feasible supports and accommodations that can be delivered while maintaining safe social-distancing. School districts must continue to support the transition of children from early intervention into preschool special education. Schools offering behavioral health services will remain open for that purpose.

HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS
Individual districts will design measures by which seniors can demonstrate eligibility for graduation. Those measures could include testing, completing a series of assignments, achieving a set score on a college entrance exam or demonstrating applied work experience. Schools will be required to identify and support students in danger of not being able to graduate.

High school seniors will have until June 19 to demonstrate eligibility, and those who fail to do so will be offered credit recovery in the summer; they can also appeal to their local school board or to the secretary. No student will be denied graduation for lack of access to demonstrate competency.

Actual graduation ceremonies will be postponed or held virtually, depending on the prevailing public health order at the time.

Many high school seniors will have completed a college entrance exam already; additionally, many higher education institutions are expected to waive that requirement, and both the ACT and College Board are considering offering those exams in the summer.

ADVANCED PLACEMENT
Advanced Placement exams will be offered online and will be limited to material students should have covered up to March. Accommodations will be made for those students who need access to technology to take the tests.

SCHOOL PERSONNEL
School personnel and contractors will remain on call and continue being paid as usual. Districts have already received guidance on activities employees can continue performing during the closure. Bus contractors are encouraged to continue operating bus routes to deliver food and hard-copy lessons. Special education and other service contractors are encouraged to provide virtual services, collaborate with general education teachers and maintain documentation.

SCHOOL NUTRITION PROGRAMS
Every New Mexico school district has a plan to continue providing childhood nutrition during this period. You can see those plans here.

The Public Education Department is also seeking permission to distribute Electronic Benefits Transfer cards that would allow qualifying families to purchase meals with their free breakfast/lunch allotment.

CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT
With schools closed, some children may be more vulnerable to abuse and neglect in their homes. In addition, teachers, school administrators, and other school staff are often the first to notice changes in behavior and appearance that may indicate abuse or neglect. New Mexicans must fill this void and be extra aware of the safety and well-being of children they know and those in their neighborhoods. Any citizen can report suspected child abuse or neglect by dialing #SAFE from their cell phone or by calling 1-855-333-SAFE from a land-line.

SUPPORTING FAMILIES
The Behavioral Health Division of the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department is working with the New Mexico Human Services Department and managed care organizations to help providers and families create digital access to mental health services for children and youth.

COLLABORATING WITH NATIONS, TRIBES, AND PUEBLOS
Tribes, pueblos, and nations are located in some of the most rural parts of New Mexico and often experience extreme health care provider shortages. The governor and state agencies are collaborating with tribal leaders to support their needs in these times.

These state agencies will continue working with the tribes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Indian Education to support students who attend BIE and tribally run schools: Indian Affairs Department, Public Education Department, Children, Youth and Families Department and Early Childhood Education and Care Department.