Raton Schools Family Letter
Raton Public Schools
1550 Tiger Circle
Raton, NM 87740
(575) 445-9111 Fax (575) 445-5641
Dr. Christopher Bonn, Superintendent
Beverly Vukonich, Executive Secretary
July 29, 2020
Dear Students and Parents:
All of us at Raton Public Schools have missed you and are anxiously waiting to see you soon at school. As the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we operate and how we will conduct business and schools we, at Raton Public Schools, are prioritizing the safety of our school community, while also not letting this virus stand in the way of our commitment to serve students and support their success. There will be changes at Raton Public Schools this school year as we adhere to state and local health guidelines regarding school operations. Guidance from health agencies is dynamic and constantly changing. As the current situation continues to evolve, we will continue to keep you updated and involve your concerns in the decision-making process.
Considerations for Re-Entry Plan
Health Officials and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) have indicated the combined use of face coverings (masks), rigorous hand washing practices and physical distancing are the best way for us to stop the spread of COVID-19. Some of the new requirements we anticipate for onsite learning are:
Thank you in advance for your support helping us safeguard each other and our community.
Dr. Christopher Bonn
Based on data gathered in the Raton Schools Re-entry Needs Assessment, it is determined that both a FACE TO FACE / HYBRID model and FULL ONLINE model of education are desired by families in our community. The Raton Schools will be offering both of these models for continuing the learning process for all students and their families.
The purpose of this form is to allow parents and guardians to elect one of these two options for their student(s). Please help us prepare for your student by submitting the Pre-Registration information form. Your selection must be received by Friday, July 17, 2020.
If you are unable to submit online or would prefer a paper/pencil version, print copies are available at the summer lunch distribution sites and the Raton Schools Administration Office (8am - 3pm Monday - Friday). Printed forms may be returned to either of those locations and must be received by Friday, July 17, 2020.
Investing for tomorrow, delivering today.
School Reentry Guidance & Family FAQs
Updated: June 23, 2020
On Tuesday, June 23, 2020, the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) released a comprehensive School Reentry Guidance document. The guidance contains considerations and recommendations for New Mexico’s schools as they craft reopening plans for the 2020-2021 school year. Topics include: an outline of the phased approach to reentry, principles and requirements for reentry, COVID-19 safe operating categories and suggestions, and information about transportation, meals, high-risk populations, and more. The complete reentry guidance can be reviewed here on the PED website. Individual schools and districts will create specific plans for continuous learning that are responsive to their community needs and circumstances.
Frequently Asked Questions about School Reentry
What family supports are available?
There are a number of resources available to students and families as we return to school. The PED has included a list of social emotional learning resources in the guidance document and encourages schools to recognize and attend to trauma and grief that students, families, and educators may be facing. Please reach out to your school counselor, family engagement coordinator, or community schools coordinator for additional information about local resources. For more information and guidance on finding a local, School-Based Health Center, please visit: https://www.nmasbhc.org/school-based-health-centers/sbhc-directory/.
How do I know what category my school or district is in?
Schools are placed in a category based on analysis of the available health data and under guidance of medical experts. The PED has identified three categories for school reentry: Remote (red), Hybrid (yellow), Full Reentry (green). Beginning at the start of August, all schools will begin in the Hybrid (yellow) category for an initial period. The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) will monitor the spread of the virus during this initial phase. Schools will move into the Full Reentry (green) phase if there is not a significant increase in the spread of the virus during this time. Schools or regions experiencing significant spread of the virus may remain in the Hybrid model or move to the Remote model if that is determined to be necessary by state public health officials.
Furthermore, the state will assess the impact of school reentry on the rate of spread of the virus statewide and in each of the five regions. When the overall state data indicate it is safe to transition a full school schedule, the regions will be able to do so as well. Our preference is to move together as a state if the data supports general advancement toward a safe, full reentry, but if an individual region’s data suggests that reentry would be unsafe for students, educators, school personnel and the community, that specific region will be monitored until numbers improve and we can ensure a safe return for all.
Attendance will be officially recorded on days in which students are physically present in schools. Schools will also track participation in their remote program. Students are expected to attend both the in-person and remote programs every day. The PED will provide more detailed guidance on attendance taking requirements in a future memo.
All districts and charter schools have been encouraged to invest federal and local funds to ensure that every student has a digital device and, if needed, a mobile hotspot or other support for internet connectivity. It is expected that during Hybrid and Remote modes of operation, districts are providing a full online program. The PED has provided guidance on a variety of remote and hybrid learning models. Local consideration will be given to logistics, daycare, prioritization of student groups, and more.
What if I don’t have access to the internet or a learning device at home?
All districts and charter schools have been encouraged to invest federal and local funds to ensure that every student has a digital device and, if needed, a mobile hotspot or other support for internet connectivity. In addition, schools and districts are encouraged to provide internet accessible areas such as school parking lots or bus stops, to download information and assignments. Furthermore, printable learning materials should be offered, when needed and appropriate.
What if I can’t afford PPE like masks for my child(ren)?
Schools have been asked to implement the face covering requirement similar to a uniform policy. Families are asked to provide their own, but schools should provide a face covering to those who need them or for students who forget them. The NMDOH has additional mask-wearing guidance for children here.
My child (or someone in our home) has an underlying medical condition. What can we do?
The state is working with vendors and schools to ensure that all students in the state have access to online learning options. Students with underlying medical conditions will have access to these programs. In addition, PED will offer more specific guidance regarding support for students with underlying medical conditions for those students that attend in-person programming.
What if there’s a spike in cases?
The state will continuously monitor public health data. In the event of a spike, schools will need to shift into the Hybrid or Remote learning models until the spike in cases subsides.
What is a “surveillance and rapid response testing” program?
Surveillance testing means that a set of school staff will be tested for the virus each week. This allows for ongoing monitoring and fast isolation of anyone receiving a positive test. Rapid response testing means that when a case is confirmed, health officials will work with schools to identify individuals who were exposed to the infected person and to test them for the virus.
If my child is engaged in distance/remote/hybrid learning, how will they continue to receive their meals?
PED will continue to work with schools and districts to ensure meals are made available through either a grab-and-go program or through meal delivery.
How will my child receive their special education services?
Special education services are expected to continue as stated in a student’s IEP. If a school has to move to a Remote or Hybrid model, schools are encouraged to continue allowing small groups of students with disabilities to continue coming to the school building to receive small group or individualized in-person services.
Will we have an in-person back to school night?
Schools will need to limit large groups and practice maximum social distancing. For many schools, they will need to adjust how back-to-school nights work in order to provide either a virtual option or set of small group options for back to school night.
If you have additional questions, please reach out to our engagement team at Family.Engagement@state.nm.us. Please keep in mind response times may be slightly delayed due to COVID-19 and teleworking conditions. We appreciate your engagement and patience!
Mask Guidance for Children and Youth
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, masks are required of adults in public settings and recommended for children three and older, with exceptions for eating, drinking, exercising and medical requirements. The general principle is that masks are used to limit potential harm to others by helping reduce their risk of infection (and they may have a secondary benefit to the wearer as well).
Until there is a vaccine, masks, hand washing, and physical distancing are key practices that will help prevent the spread of the virus. Masks are not a substitute for physical distancing, which is still the most effective practice to prevent infection and should be employed as much as feasible, but physical distancing can be a challenge with younger children.
There are almost always meaningful exceptions to even well thought out rules and we should be especially mindful of those for young people. Part of keeping children safe is to also safeguard their emotional well-being. Teachers should use their professional judgment; if the emotional harm done by wearing a mask outweighs the potential physical benefit, a mask should not be worn.
Children with severe cognitive or respiratory impairments may have a hard time tolerating a face mask, so special precautions may be needed with these children. These children may need to maintain greater physical distance from others or may need special equipment to monitor their oxygen levels (e.g. pulse oximeter). Children who are considered high-risk or severely immunocompromised are encouraged to wear an N95 mask for protection rather than a cloth mask.
Children between the ages of 3 and 5 must be supervised if they are wearing a mask. Providers should use their best judgment on when to remove a mask if it is creating discomfort or resulting in a child touching their face frequently. If a child cannot remove the mask on their own, without assistance, even if they are over the age of 3, they should not wear a mask.
Children and staff with fever or respiratory or gastrointestinal symptoms like a cough, congestion, runny nose, diarrhea, or vomiting should stay home and not attend school. Parents/Guardians should contact their primary provider or nurse hotline to discuss these symptoms. Download this file here.
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