Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

LCPS introduces new COVID-19 protocols as the district goes through 1,500 cases

LAS CRUCES – Las Cruces public schools are reporting exponentially more and more new positive COVID-19 cases every week. The county is preparing for schools with a high case rate.

LCPS reported 365 new COVID-19 cases for the week of November 11-17. This surge in cases started in the week of October 22nd, with 125 new cases in a single week.

The 671 new cases reported in the past two weeks bring the district over 1,500 cases since the school year began on August 9.

At the school council meeting on Tuesday, LCPS deputy operations manager Gabe Jacquez introduced the latest COVID-19 updates in the district and introduced new protocols for schools that have 3 and 5 percent positive COVID-19 cases relative to the number of people have exceeded in a building.

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For a school or location where more than 3 percent of its staff and students tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days, the following “Extended COVID Safe Protocols” will be implemented:

  • Students must face one direction in the classroom and in the cafeteria
  • Essential visitors only
  • Staggered transition, break and discharge times
  • Students go straight to the classroom upon arrival
  • Regular deep cleaning and disinfection

Several practices also continue under these improved protocols, including regular thorough cleaning, classroom or outdoor dining, closed drinking fountains, and daily staff checkups.

In a school location where more than 5 percent of its staff and students have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days, if the following required COVID-safe practices are in place in addition to any protocols at 3 percent and below:

  • Screening for pupils upon entry into school (temperature measurement and wellness check)
  • Student cohort
  • No visitors
  • Suspending “high-risk” extra curricular activities when a school, team, or department has a high rate of positive tests
  • Suspension of all extracurricular courses if a school switches to online learning due to positive tests
  • No large group gatherings (like gatherings)
  • Staggered arrival times for students
  • Possible hybrid or distance learning

One school will work with county officials and the New Mexico Department of Health to determine if a transition to hybrid or distance learning is needed.

Jacquez admitted that case numbers are increasing across the county and nationwide, but switching to distance learning would be a last resort in most cases.

“When we talk about a classroom, transitioning the grade level to a distance learning environment, or moving a school facility or district, it’s huge,” said Jacquez. “One of the things that (Superintendent Ralph) Ramos made clear – and we all feel the same – is that we have just gotten out of (distance learning). Our goal is to do everything possible to ensure that we have this environment for children in school. “

In the past two weeks, several schools have rapidly approached this 5 percent threshold: Sunrise Elementary (4.74 percent), MacArthur Elementary (4.63 percent), Tombaugh Elementary (4.62 percent), East Picacho Elementary (4th , 62 percent) and Jornada Elementary (4.05 percent.). ).

1,535 cumulative cases were reported as of Thursday morning.

Cumulative district data

Overall, around 8.26 percent of the students and staff at the LCPS tested positive for COVID-19 this school year – almost twice as many as two weeks ago.

Of the 1,535 positive cases in the district, 1,241 are students and 294 are employees or contractors, according to the new dashboard.

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Organ Mountain High had the highest number of new cases this week at 38, Camino Real Middle and Mayfield High both had 26, Mesa Middle and Tombaugh Elementary both had 21, and Centennial High had 20.

Organ Mountain High now has the highest number of COVID-19 cases of any district location with 143 reported positive cases – 133 of which are reported as student cases.

Las Cruces Public Schools' COVID-19 tracking system has reported 1,535 cases across the district since class began on November 18, 2021.  The system breaks down the cases by school

Mayfield High, which consistently had the highest number of cases through November, has 90. Three other schools have more than 70 cases: Camino Real Middle has 87; Centennial High has 71; Las Cruces High has 71.

The Las Cruces district administration designation also has 59 reported cases.

The new COVID-19 dashboard from LCPS can be found at lcps.net/returnplan/covidnews.html.

COVID-19 Rapid Response by District

There are currently no quick responses at Hatch Valley Public Schools, according to the New Mexico Environmental Department’s Rapid Response Tracker.

Gadsden Independent School District has 24 quick answers: Desert Trail Elementary has three, La Union Elementary has two, Riverside Elementary has three, Yucca Heights Elementary has two, Chaparral Elementary has two, Chaparral Middle has three, Chaparral High has three, Gadsden Middle has two, Gadsden High has two, Santa Teresa Elementary has two quick reactions.

LCPS has a total of 130.

The J. Paul Taylor Academy’s Charter School and the Las Montañas Charter School each have two quick answers.

A quick response means one or more people tested positive for COVID-19 and were contagious on campus. All cases reported to a school on a single day, as well as all cases with test dates until the next day, are summarized in a single quick reaction.

The New Mexico Public Education Department announced on Aug. 19 that it will not require schools to close if it receives four quick responses in 14 days, which was the previous policy.

There is no set percentage or number of positive cases that a school would convert to distance learning.

Instead, the department will work with schools to implement improved COVID-safe practices that will sustain personal learning as much as possible. It is at a district’s discretion whether or not to convert a school to distance learning unless the Department of Health intervenes.

57 schools across the state have four or more quick answers. The number of COVID-19 cases in schools has increased nationwide.

New Mexico Secretary of Health Dr. David Scrase said earlier this month that the spread of COVID-19 among children in schools is less common and more likely to take place outside of school, where masking and social distancing may not be enforced.

Check out the NMED website to follow quick responses at env.nm.gov/rapid-response-data/.

Miranda Cyr, a member of the Report for America Corps, can be reached at [email protected] or @mirandabcyr on Twitter. Show your support for the Report for America program at https://bit.ly/LCSNRFA.

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