Farmington schools to require indoor face mask usage for all students and staff

The district announced the decision in a Aug. 5 video on Facebook

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
  • Farmington schools is the second county district to implement this style of policy.
  • All students, staff and visitors at state elementary schools are required to wear face masks on school property.
  • It follows Centers for Diseases and Prevention recent recommendations for all K-12 students to wear a mask indoors.

FARMINGTON — The Farmington school district will require all students and staff to wear face masks while on district property, joining larger school districts across the state that are requiring mask usage regardless of vaccination status.

Farmington Superintendent Gene Schmidt discussed the implementation of the policy in a video posted to the Farmington Municipal Schools' Facebook page on Aug. 5 and in a letter on the district’s website.

Schmidt's announcement follows a July 26 update from the New Mexico Public Education Department to COVID-19 protocols for the Fall 2021 semester.

The update provided a track for staff and students at middle and high schools who chose to volunteer their vaccination information.

Farmington Municipal Schools Superintendent Gene Schmidt addresses the community in an Aug. 5 video to Facebook. He announced all students and staff are required to wear face masks, regardless of vaccination status.

If they shared their information, they would not be required to wear a face mask and would also have relaxed requirements for social distancing.

All students, staff and visitors at state elementary schools are required to wear face masks on school property.

No student or staff member is required to disclose their vaccination status or obtain a COVID-19 vaccine.

More:Navajo Nation lifts daily curfew, reaffirms mask mandate over COVID-19

The state education department provided districts an option to implement more restrictive mask policy.

In the days following the July 26 PED announcement, Farmington district officials had not made a decision regarding a more restrictive mask policy.

The announcement follows the Centers for Diseases and Prevention's recent recommendations for all K-12 students to wear a mask indoors, as the Delta variant of COVID-19 causes pediatric hospitals in the U.S. to be overwhelmed with young patients who tested positive for the coronavirus.  

Schmidt’s letter to the community details an effort to listen to the community while trying to ensure students can continue in-person learning.

The superintendent stressed there would be opportunities when school is in session for staff and students take off their masks, including lunch, recess and when entering/departing school grounds.

District officials will be monitoring how the policy is faring in the district schools.

'It’s a balancing act':  Area superintendents react to new COVID-19 protocols for public schools

“In order to better understand the impact of my decision, school staff will monitor the effects of mask-wearing and pay close attention to any kind of discipline issues related to wearing masks in our schools,” Schmidt wrote.

Schmidt hopes the students and staff have a great start to the school year. All grades will be returning to in-person learning after elementary students spent more of the 2020-2021 school year in remote learning.

“Let’s focus on building positive relationships with our students, closing learning gaps, and recovering the learning loss that our students may have returned with," Schmidt wrote.

Tibbetts physical education teacher Reta Dominguez leads a tour of the school's campus for in-person and remote learning on Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2021.

Farmington schools is the second county district to implement this style of policy.

Central Consolidated School District Superintendent Daniel Benavidez previously told The Daily Times on July 29 it will also require all students and staff to wear face masks while on district property.

Benavidez believed it was the most equitable option as CCSD operates as a New Mexico public school district on the Navajo Nation.

More:San Juan County, Navajo Nation COVID-19 case updates for August 2021

Large school districts, including the Albuquerque School District, Las Cruces Public Schools and Santa Fe Public Schools, are also adopting a more restrictive face mask policy.

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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