BY SUPT. KURT STEINHAUS AND
LOS ALAMOS PUBLIC SCHOOLS LEADERSHIP TEAM
Dear LAPS Staff, Students and Families,
New Mexico news outlets are excitedly sharing Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s announcement from today’s State of the State address that, “Every school district in the state will be able to welcome all students safely back into the classroom on Feb. 8”.
Los Alamos Public Schools (LAPS) is pleased to hear about this opportunity, if not a bit surprised by the date. The district has been planning for our students to return since August. Having carefully and thoroughly returned our elementary schools under a hybrid model, we recognize the work and feedback necessary to accomplish the same for Los Alamos Middle School and Los Alamos High School. Our secondary schools have been preparing for multiple scenarios, and the recent announcement gives us the direction we need to move forward.
Today’s exciting announcement increases the options for our secondary students and staff. The LAPS School Board has been a leader in this effort, and passed a resolution in October requesting exactly this type of COVID-safe flexibility. Secretary of Education Ryan Stewart provided additional clarity and guidance for schools in a press conference following the Governor’s Jan. 26 address. Indeed, beyond the exciting headline, there is much important work to be done.
The planning will incorporate the most current COVID science. For example, mask-wearing, good air flow, and frequent rapid tests have proven to be critically important, along with strategies that include surface cleaning, temperature checks and plexiglass dividers. Scientists have also shown the effectiveness of doubling down on protection protocols as new coronavirus variants arise and spread.
Vaccinations are another critical component, and over 150 LAPS teachers and staff from the elementary schools will receive their second doses on Feb. 10. The prospect of vaccinations for all staff is contributing to the mounting excitement and readiness to see our students in person again.
Teachers have been working tirelessly since March to adapt their instruction to the remote learning model and to engage with students. Returning secondary students to in-person learning will incorporate the successes of remote learning, augmented with face-to-face opportunities for all students. Teachers, parents, students, administrators, and the LAPS School Board will be tasked with weighing the options.
The LAPS School Board will meet on Feb. 9, 2021 to consider options and timelines for moving forward. Our board’s ability to make decisions that are tailored to the unique needs of our community, within the guidelines set by the Governor, will ensure a return to school that considers all the factors important to LAPS students, staff and families.
To help inform this process and shape the recommendations, please submit ideas and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.