LAPS Establishes Safe-Start Task Force To Prepare For Reopening Schools In The Fall

unnamed-7 (2)

Los Alamos Public Schools has established the Safe-Start Task Force to prepare for reopening schools in the fall. The broadly representative group includes parents, students, the head nurse, LAPS administration, teachers, and community members. 

“We will open school in the fall of 2020,” stated Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus. “Our job is to figure out how to make it successful.” The safety of staff and students will be central to achieving that success. LAPS will follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) and the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED). Learning will include a mix of in-class, online and self-directed work. 

“Our three priorities are student learning, student well-being, and staff well-being and excellence,” Dr. Steinhaus said, listing three of the LAPS School Board’s focus areas. 

On May 28 at 5:30pm, the School Board will review initial task force plans and request participation from two Board members. The task force plans to have a draft plan ready by mid-June for review by all LAPS staff and the community. The final document will be presented to the School Board for review and approval. This detailed plan will include a description of how to start school safely in the fall, an operational plan, guidelines for teaching and learning during the 2020-2021 school year and success metrics. 

The task force has several working groups that will focus on: 

  • Student and parent focus groups 
  • LAPS staff focus groups 
  • Safety 
  • Online and in-person classroom learning 
  • Drills and quick response closure 
  • Communications 
  • School calendar 
  • Policies for students and employees 
  • Transportation 
  • Sports and extracurricular activities 

Task force members will conduct an extensive review of CDC guidance, as well as communications from both the NMPED and NMDOH. “We also have an excellent resource in our own backyard — LANL– which has been providing data to the state and nationally,” noted Dr. Steinhaus. The group will also seek input from students, staff and the community, as well as review emerging best practices from other school systems nationally and internationally. 

“The task force will assess the full range of options for LAPS and provide recommendations based on the best available evidence,” Dr. Steinhaus said. “We want our students to thrive in any school setting, whether it is in a physical classroom or an online setting.”