Commentary: The National Education Association of New Mexico (NEA-NM) has released a list of 5 essential recommendations for the safe re-opening of New Mexico public schools. In the official document containing the results of a series of surveys across New Mexico, Mary Parr-Sanchez, President of NEA-NM, stated that after months of listening to thousands of educator’s perspectives on health, safety, and school reopening, the message is clear; “Educators want a safe and judicious return to school for students and staff that is premised on scientific data demonstrating the virus is under control.”
The 5 recommendations:
1. Learning must remain virtual for the first semester of 2020 until the virus is under control.
2. The NM Department of Health must provide clear and reasonable plans for testing and contact tracing specifically for educators, students, and schools.
3. School Districts must provide clear and reasonable plans for enforcing CDC guidelines and PED mandates. The burden of disinfecting, securing PPE, mask wearing and social distancing enforcement cannot be simply piled on educators as additional job-responsibilities on top of instruction.
4. Re-entry plans must include authentic community, student, and staff voice.
5. The state of NM needs to ensure adequate sick leave for educators who contract the virus.
NEA-NM President Parr-Sanchez stated, “We believe that equity and safety must be seen as complementary, not competing priorities when it comes to reopening.” Further she mapped a path forward by emphasizing “We can get through this together by being strategic - but it will take resources, creativity, trust, and an equity lens.”
NEA-NM is an affiliate of the NEA, with over 3 million members at every level of education. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States working for a quality public education for all students regardless of zip code.