Santa Fe Public Schools has set its lineup of hybrid-learning classes for each elementary school, but Superintendent Veronica García said that plan remains subject to change.
So, too, is the anticipated Oct. 26 date the district has targeted to reopen in a hybrid-learning model — in part because of a recent surge in COVID-19 cases and how that may affect the state’s opening criteria.
The district released an up-to-date list of classes Tuesday that will open at each school (view it online at santafenewmexican.com). Students have been learning remotely since the start of the school year, but the hybrid model will bring those who want in-person instruction into the classroom for two days per week while continuing remote learning for three days.
García cautioned the plan is not finalized because the number of teacher and support staff “volunteers” willing to return to the classroom could change over the next 12 days. The district announced earlier this month that 165 elementary school teachers and support staff members were willing to return to the classroom. García said the number has not changed substantially, but she did not have the exact figure available.
“You get people who are like, ‘You know, I wanted to do it,’ and somebody else will say, ‘You know, I’m not sure I can do it after all,’ ” García said. “It has not been a huge variation. I think it has pretty much been a wash.”
However, she added there is a chance the gating criteria the state Public Education Department uses to determine whether a district can reopen could force the district to change its plans. Though state Department of Health figures showed Santa Fe County was in the green in late September, the area has seen a significant increase in its daily caseload. There were 41 cases in the county Tuesday — its highest since the crisis began.
The state Public Education Department mandates that a county must have an average case rate below 8 per 100,000 and a positivity rate less than 5 percent in order for its public schools to open. Santa Fe County has an average daily case average of 5.1 per 100,000 people and a positivity rate of 2.6 percent, but that was as of Sept. 28. Those figures will be updated Wednesday.
“It just depends on what our cases look like in our county,” García said.
The only school that lacks a hybrid class is Tesuque Elementary School. García has said she intends to move teachers around to ensure all schools have at least one hybrid class, and she continued to affirm that. However, she said there is a possibility students from some schools could be absorbed into another school’s class to accommodate them.
“We are looking right now for teachers that still might be willing to volunteer,” García said. “Perhaps, someone who is willing to volunteer who are displaced who might have the credentials [to teach at another school] or maybe even be a sub.”
Cheryl Romero, Tesuque’s principal, said she and her staff have been working with the district to find a solution. She said only seven of her 90 students opted for the hybrid model, and she wants to exhaust all options before considering moving them to another school.
“I feel like we are making headway in this process, but only time will tell,” Romero said.
Five schools will have only one class — E.J. Martinez, Sweeney, Nava and Salazar elementary schools, plus Amy Biehl Community School. El Camino Real Academy has the most classes out of all schools, with 15.