Dear LAPS Parents and Families,
This message is part of a series of updates about coronavirus and what LAPS is doing to support healthy learning environments.
Let me begin by stating that student and staff safety is paramount and that we are learning more every day about the virus and the growing number of variants.
Click here to see the LAPS Community Promise for a Healthy School Environment. With this in mind, we are reviewing reliable sources and taking proactive steps for our students and families, as noted below.
Here are some of the many efforts in which we are already engaged:
- Working with the NM Department of Health to provide vaccinations for all LAPS teachers and staff. This past Monday, 149 LAPS staff received their first vaccination shot. The second shot is scheduled on February 10th. With regard to everyone else, I learned today that DOH is working to provide equal access across the state for school employees to receive a vaccination. I will continue to advocate for LAPS employees.
- Updating the LAPS Safe Schools Plan to include a checklist and information about COVID-19. Every LAPS school has a safety plan with over 180 pages of important information about prevention and training for staff and students. Within the last week, our updated plans have been approved by the Public Education Department. We will continue to make changes as new information is available.
- Following new protocols for a school closure in the event it is deemed necessary. We could be directed by a state to close schools to prevent community spread of the infection. If that should happen, the LAPS leadership team will work with health and education officials to follow the requirements. We understand that the competent authorities, including the New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) and New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) would base this decision on factors in the COVID-19 Toolkit, including reported infection rates and staff and student attendance.
- Requiring masks, increasing handwashing and updating cleaning routines. We are reinforcing the requirement to wear a mask and reviewing requirements for handwashing with all of the schools in the district to ensure full compliance. In addition, custodians have been trained on the best procedures to disinfect and regularly clean high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs, light switches, and countertops.
- Using the Eagle Intelligent Health app or paper form for a daily check before entering a school building. This is a HIPAA compliant, medical platform that offers a free electronic screening and monitoring for students and staff.
- Hiring additional substitute teachers. We now have 54 active substitutes, a significant increase from 31 at the end of last semester. You can help by encouraging people to consider serving as an LAPS substitute teacher. Contact Trey Pereyra at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Working with the Public Education Department for approval of middle and high school students to safely attend in-person small group instruction. It is anticipated that we will receive additional guidance next week on what is being called Remote Plus learning for middle and high school students.
Actions for Parents and Families
Please help prevent others from getting sick. To do so, it is important to focus on basic public health approaches:
- Focus on wearing a mask, watching your distance and handwashing. Please encourage your children to frequently wash their hands, especially after using the bathroom, after using a tissue, and before they eat. Even though masks may seem uncomfortable, we need to consistently wear our masks.
- Students should stay home when they are sick and not return to school until they have been fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medications. If antibiotics have been prescribed for any illness, it’s important to be on them 24 hours before returning to school.
- Encourage your children to avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
- Ask your children to use a tissue to cover coughs and sneezes, then dispose of the tissue. When a tissue is not available, ask them to cough or sneeze into an elbow.
- Unless contraindicated medically, have your children get the flu shot if not already vaccinated.
- Follow your schools COVID-safe arrival and dismissal procedures.
Click here for an infographic on preventing the spread of respiratory diseases that you may wish to print or share.
I encourage you to stay informed. Below are some reliable information sources that I follow myself. I am also in communication with Los Alamos doctors and the LANL Health Sciences Division since the complete clinical picture with regard to COVID-19 is not fully known.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- New Mexico Department of Health
- COVID-19 coronavirus testing now available in New Mexico
- Symptoms Associated with COVID-19
We will continue to update staff, parents, and students with relevant information. At the same time, we will follow the Family Education Rights to Privacy Act to protect the privacy of student records.
Rest assured that as circumstances continue to develop, one thing will remain the same: we will make decisions with the health and well-being of students and staff as our top priority.
Thank you for helping to keep our students safe and healthy.
Dr. Kurt Steinhaus
Los Alamos Public Schools