Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Education department updates COVID guidelines for schools | Education

The New Mexico Public Education Department announced plans to reduce quarantine and self-isolation times for students and public school staff.

Those who tested positive for COVID-19 or who may have been exposed to the virus will have to remain in isolation for five days, up from a previous 10-day requirement, according to new guidelines the department released on Wednesday.

The announcement is in line with updated recommendations issued late last month by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and approved by the New Mexico Department of Health on January 6th.

Schools have to adhere to government regulations, but districts can also adopt stricter measures.

The new policy states that booster workers who have had close contact with an infected person can skip the quarantine period. Previously, educators could skip the quarantine if they only had the first two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or a single shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“School infections are still relatively low and we are cautiously optimistic that most schools can continue safe personal learning with these modifications,” said State Secretary-designate for Public Education, Kurt Steinhaus, in a press release. “We continue to strive to ensure the safety and health of students and school staff while maximizing opportunities for personal learning.”

The Department of Public Education said 440 public school infections were reported Tuesday; However, the New Mexico Department of Health warned that a technical problem had “artificially lowered” the number of cases reported nationwide that day.

In a recent interview, Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Hilario “Larry” Chavez warned that the number of cases in the district could rise to 600 this week.

The district will move to distance learning next week due to the high case numbers and test supply issues.

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