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These are services local school districts will provide during the coronavirus school closures

Sam Ribakoff Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Area school districts are reacting to New Mexico's efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic, cancelling school for three weeks. Some school sites are readying school breakfasts and lunches as administrators from preschools to colleges assess a shifting situation.

San Juan College in Farmington on March 13 joined the list of campuses to temporarily close.

“I don’t want New Mexicans to be afraid, I want New Mexicans to be prepared,” said Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham at a press conference in Santa Fe on the morning of March 13.

Keep reading:Coronavirus in New Mexico: Here's what's closed in Farmington, some events postponed

The governor, the New Mexico Public Education Department and the New Mexico Department of Health announced that all K-12 public schools in the state would be closed for three weeks from March 16 to April 6.

Lujan-Grisham and state Education Secretary Ryan Stewart laid out further plans to continue free grab-and-go school breakfast and lunch programs for students during the school closures, continuing to pay school staff, not extending school instructional days to make up for lost time, canceling all school athletic events and practices and pushing back planned state testing for students.  

K-12 Schools

Students walk to their second period classes, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, at Farmington High School on the first day of the new semester.

Aztec Municipal School District Superintendent Kirk Carpenter said that the district is planning to provide to-go breakfast and lunches at Aztec High School, Park Avenue Elementary School, Lydia Rippey Elementary School, McCoy Elementary School and some outlying fire stations on weekdays starting on March 18.

“[We’re] trying to find the best way to provide services,” Carpenter said, “Making sure we provide meals to kids is essential.”

Breakfast will be provided to students from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., and lunch will be provided from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.    

Read more:Health secretary issues public health order suspending mass gatherings in New Mexico

Carpenter said that the district was not planning to implement daycare or after-school programs during the closure.

“There’s a lot of moving parts,” said Bloomfield School District superintendent Kim Mizell, “[We’re] trying to be realistic in what we can and can’t do.”

Mizell said the district is looking at ways to provide meals to students during the school closures, but added the district doesn't have enough food on hand, or a clear plan about how to serve meals to students when schools are supposed to be closed. School sites will have limited staff, and students might have difficulty getting to and from schools without school-provided transportation.

“There’s some logistic concerns, but we have a tentative plan,” Mizell said.

Essential staff like cooks and cafeteria workers will remain on call, Mizell said.

After-school intervention programs will also be suspended until the temporary school closure ends on April 6.

During a press conference on the afternoon of March 13, Central Consolidated School District said it would provide “drive-by” bagged lunches for students to grab at Kirtland High School, Shiprock High School and Newcomb High School.

The district is also planning to provide childcare and daycare facilities at Kirtland Early Childhood Center and Career Prep High School in Kirtland. 

“[We’re] really trying to calm the fears that a lot of these kids are having,” said CCSD board president Gary Montoya. “This is new. A lot of us haven’t experienced anything like this.”

For the Farmington Municipal School District, all activities and athletics were postponed on March 12, and all practices will be postponed starting on March 16.

Others are reading:New Mexico announces sixth presumptive positive COVID-19 case

Information on remote or online classroom instruction is expected to be released during Spring Break, according to a Farmington schools press release.

Middle or high school students who use laptop computers on a "day-use" agreement can take home laptops starting on March 13. Information on elementary student access is expected to be released soon.

The district will offer breakfast and lunch meals weekdays starting on March 23 through April 3, according to Farmington schools Spokesperson Renee Lucero.

Students must be present, and meals can be picked up by vehicle through the bus loading zone. Students and parents who are walking will pick meals up in same area.

The following schools will offer both breakfast and lunch from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Animas, Apache, Bluffview, McCormick, Esperanza and McKinley elementary schools, and Hermosa and Tibbetts middle schools along with Farmington and Rocinante high schools.

The district's Central Kitchen at 305 N. Court Ave., along with Tibbetts and Mesa View middle schools, will offer afternoon pick up for breakfast and lunch from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., according to Lucero.

The afternoon pick up is for working parents that cannot visit during the morning hours.

Farmington schools will not offer child care during the three weeks schools are closed, according to Lucero.

The Kinteel Residential Campus is set to be closed for three weeks starting on March 16, according to Executive Director Brandon John.

The dorms follow the guidelines of Aztec schools. John added everyone at Kinteel is fine and they are sending information out to parents.

Principal of Mosaic Academy Charter School in Aztec, Diane Mittler, said Mosaic will follow what Aztec schools are doing.

Students from Mosaic will be able to pick up free breakfasts and lunches from any Aztec school distribution site starting on March 18.

 "I just appreciate that the state of New Mexico is looking our for its people," Mittler said of the governor's response to the coronavirus, "This is the right thing to do to protect our kids.”     

Navajo Preparatory School is also canceling school from March 16 through April 3, according to its Facebook page.

Classes are set to resume on April 6. All activities, athletics and school-sponsored travel are also cancelled for the three weeks.

Students have access to 250 hot spots to connect their Navajo Prep-issued laptop computers to the internet, according to a letter from Head of School Shawna Becenti.

The school is working to solve connectivity issues in rural communities.

Students attending Shiprock Associated Schools will also have school cancelled for three weeks starting on March 16, including the dormitories, according to Executive Director Rick Edwards.

Nutritional services are expected to start on March 23. Grab-and-go meals will be offered, and Edwards plans to use school transportation to deliver meals if needed.

For the three weeks, all sports and extracurricular activities are canceled.

Edwards said the health center and mental/behavioral health offices will remain open and available. Staff are asked to remain in contact and available starting on March 23.

Dream Diné Charter School did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

SJC plans temporary closure

San Juan College administrators on March 13 joined the list of institutions planning a temporary shutdown and some online classes as New Mexico seeks to stem the outbreak of Coronavirus.

San Juan College announced plans on March 13 to move courses online for two weeks starting on March 23, according to a college press release. Spring Break starts on March 16.

The college is closing all campuses and buildings to visitors and students from March 15 to April 5 with plans to re-open on April 6. 

It is also canceling events and restricting students and employee through April 17.

“We have two priorities. One is the health and safety of our college community and second to fulfill our mission to educate individuals,” said College President Toni Pendergrass.

Employees are encouraged to work remotely when possible and those unable to work remotely will be able to assume their duties at the college, according to the press release.

Students are asked to contact instructors and check college email for additional information regarding support services, class structure and closure.

A list of canceled college events can be found at www.sanjuancollege.edu/coronavirus.

Diné College extends break

Diné College announced on March 12 that it would extend its Spring Break by a week starting on March 16. Students were set to return to class on March 23, according to a post on the school's Facebook page.

The college is using the extra week to move some of its classes online. Faculty are scheduled to return on March 16.

More details on online course delivery are set to be released soon. Residential halls are set to re-open on March 15.

NTU stays open

Navajo Technical University issued a letter on March 12, which stated the university would stay open, including dormitories, according to its website. Its Spring Break is set to start on March 23.

Cancellations or postponements include all public events and scheduled campus visits. Travel has been limited to a 150-mile radius.

Plans are being developed for instruction, and the university core leadership team will review and approve the plans.

NMHU extends break

Students attending New Mexico Highlands University, including the center in Farmington, had their Spring Break extended by one week for the week of March 23, according to the NMHU website.

All Highlands University travel had been cancelled with approval being conducted on a case-by-case basis for trips.

UNM: Situation is 'fluid'

The University of New Mexico as of March 12 was stating classes would resume normally on March 23 after Spring Break, but noted the situation is fluid, according to its website.

Plans were being made for offering classes in "alternative formats" if public health directives change due to the coronavirus.

Sam Ribakoff is a visual journalist for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-333-5283 or via email at sribakoff@daily-times.com.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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