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CCSD board approves using hybrid model for K-5th grade in-person instruction

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The Central Consolidated School District Board of Education voted to allow the district to follow the New Mexico Public Education Department's guidelines for a hybrid model to reopen in-person classroom instruction for kindergarten through 5th grade students at 50% capacity.

Schools in New Mexico have been under remote learning since March, when buildings were closed to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

The New Mexico Public Education Department announced on Sept. 2 that 50 school districts, including CCSD, and 41 charter schools, qualified for K-5 students to re-enter classroom instruction.

To qualify, the educational entities must be in a county the state deems "green." The status is determined based on criteria like the number of new positive cases and preparedness for outbreaks.

Board members accepted the recommendation during a regular meeting on Sept. 15, according to a press release.

"CCSD will monitor any changes on COVID-19 status and adapt as necessary to continue to ensure the safety of students and staff," the release states.

The district started the school year on Sept. 14 under virtual learning, which will remain an option for parents.

There is no date scheduled for in-person instruction for the youngest students to begin and discussion about the transition continues, District Spokesman Roberto Taboada said on Sept. 16.

Board President Gary Montoya said in the district's release that the decision was challenging for board members but needed for students.

"We want the community to know, our parents and grandparents, our wonderful students that we listened to them and that we are making these changes to make sure they are not left behind. Also, the board and the district will focus heavily on balancing the health and safety of students and staff," Montoya said.

Superintendent Daniel Benavidez said that before the reopening occurs, the district will talk about the change with parents and principals and the district will follow precautions and due diligence.

"Parents need to know that we will continue to follow PED's guidance, as well as recommendations from health officials, and ongoing dialogue with Navajo Nation, as appropriate, to address their concerns," Benavidez said.

The district press release states there will be further dialogue with the Navajo Nation government – where several schools are located – about reopening the buildings.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Vice President Myron Lizer, the Navajo Nation Council and the Navajo Nation Board of Education support using online learning for now.

"We urge all schools to do their very best to provide all students with the resources needed to advance their education. We recognize that there are challenges including the lack of adequate telecommunications infrastructure to support online learning for all students and we are advocating to use CARES Act funds to help address that issue," Nez said in a Aug. 13 press release.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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