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Students can access the internet during school closures at local church

Sam Ribakoff
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON – First Presbyterian Church of Farmington this week opened its doors to provide Farmington Municipal Schools and San Juan College students with free internet access during the ongoing school closures.   

“[We were] thinking about ways we can be helpful,” said Rev. Megan Cullip, “we wanted to offer some community services.”

Cullip said that the church would open two rooms to students to access the internet, provided that they have their own laptops. The first session, which ends on March 19, is from around 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. From March 23 to March 26 and March 30 to April 2 the rooms will be open from around 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Farmington Municipal Schools spokesperson Renee Lucero clarified that although students will have access to their school provided laptops, there will be no required online classwork during the school’s closure. Lucero said the district is “encouraging families to learn on their own as much as possible.”

Cullip said the facilities at the church would be cleaned daily, and that students will be required to sit at least six feet apart from each other. That practice, which health officials refer to as social distancing, helps slow the spread of the coronavirus among people who might carry the virus but might show only mild symptoms.

With social distancing of students in place, Cullip estimated that they could accommodate about 40 students.

A sign welcomes students and other community members at First Presbyterian Church of Farmington on March 16, 2020.

Students will not be checked for symptoms of the coronavirus before they are allowed to enter the facility. 

“If you have any symptoms, any cold-like symptoms, stay home.” Cullip said.

On the afternoon of March 16, the City of Farmington announced that the Farmington Public Library would close on March 17.

Bloomfield City Manager George Duncan said the Bloomfield Public Library would remain open for people to use their facilities and access the internet, although they may decrease library hours in the future.

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Members of chapter houses on the Navajo Nation are encouraged to call their chapter house ahead of visiting to check what services are available.

The mayor of Kirtland, Mark Duncan, said people in need of internet access could come to Kirtland Town Hall.

Aztec City Manager Steve Mueller said that as of now the Aztec Public Library would remain open for people wanting to use their computers and internet access, with library staff encouraging patrons to practice social distancing.

San Juan College has compiled a list of local businesses that provide internet access to customers, and internet access points on the Navajo Nation, as well as the college’s own wireless internet network which can be accessed in the college's parking lot.

The list can be viewed at www.sanjuancollege.edu/itc/itc-corona-virus-resources/free-wifi-locations/

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.