Hope Christian School in Albuquerque has agreed to pay a $5,000 fine for violating a state public health order on mask wearing, the New Mexico Public Education Department announced Thursday.

The Department of Public Safety delivered a notice of violation to the nondenominational Christian school in September after Hope Christian Elementary School Principal Robyn Taylor wrote in an email in August the school would not require masks.

Hope Christian is the state’s largest private school with 1,400 students, according to the education department, and it has campuses for preschool through high school.

The Public Education Department issued a mask requirement for schools July 26. The state requires private schools to adhere to the department’s COVID-19 rules.

Five photos taken Aug. 12 showed “unmasked individuals of all ages” at the private school, the education department said Thursday.

The department reported the school dropped a request for an evidentiary hearing on the matter Wednesday.

The school’s lawyer, Matthew Spangler, wrote in a letter the school did not believe the violation was warranted but “has made an economic decision to cease its dispute and conclude this matter.”

The Public Education Department has an anonymous reporting portal for concerns over COVID-19 policy violations, available at nmgov.force.com/pedincidentreport/s.

(12) comments

Nicole Duncan

Okay seriously people, lets think about this shall we. Corona virus has taken over our lives for how long and all yall can do is sit and be like "ohh my gosh I just might throw a liberal tantrum over the fact that the school that my child doesn't even go to is not wearing masks" seriously folks...get a life and keep your nose out of business that doesn't concern you. Has anyone else noticed that on the side of a box of masks it says "Does not protect against corona virus" so what exactly do you want kids wearing them for??? Its a religiou private school therefore they don't follow the same guidelines like that of public schools. sheesh

Sabine Strohem

This pandemic sure has pulled back the curtains to show how political churches and other religious institutions are.

Margaret Eyler

This pandemic sure has offered an opportunity to show how children are vastly unaffected by covid.

Angel Ortiz

Really Margaret? Please let us know where you're pulling this data from?

David Ford

I think we all know where she is "pulling" her data from....[beam]

Barry Rabkin

And I’m sure the adults at the schools and in their families are also unaffected. (Deep sarcasm)

Dan Frazier

I'm hope the school is going to require students and faculty to wear masks. But as a private religious school, I wonder if it could successfully argue in court that it has a right not to require masks. I also wonder if this is the kind of case that the ACLU might take in defense of the school's no-mask policy.

Andrew Gaspar

> I'm hope the school is going to require students and faculty to wear masks.

I'm sure you're just trying to find common ground, but I personally think it's nuts that we're persisting with the masking of children, period. The cloth masks we are requiring for children in school are not designed to slow spread over a 7 hour school day sitting in a closed classroom together. There continues to be no clear evidence that school masking policy has any clear effect on the spread of COVID.

If the state schools want to require an ineffective policy designed for the questionable policy objective of slowing spread among a population that is at very low susceptibility for the disease, fine, but in a free country, parents should absolutely have the right of opt out and to be able to send their kids to a school which doesn't have this requirement.

We're close to entering the second year of New Mexico COVID policy and the virus is endemic. Continuing these masking requirements without any clear off-ramp or theory for constructing that off-ramp shows that our elected leaders aren't engaging in any sort of rational assessment of trade offs, and we should absolutely be demanding an end to the era of one-size-fits-all COVID policy.

Mark Specter

Slap on the wrist. School officials should have been charged with criminal negligence.

LeRoy Sanchez


Margaret Eyler

Haha what a joke. Because they neglected to wrap kids faces in a piece of cloth that protects them minimally against a disease that poses minimal risk to them? We’re one of the o my countries that EVER masked kids in schools, and New Mexico is one of the only states who’s continued this mask mandate nonsense based on…nothing! Nice science!

Nicole Duncan

amen to that!!

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