Public Education Department: COVID In Schools – Testing Up, Positivity Down


Cases on and off campus continue to decline 

Two weeks after New Mexico schools began expanding in-person learning, the Public Education Department reports scant evidence of school-based COVID-19 spread. 

Both Tuesday and Wednesday this week, only nine school facilities were on the Environment Department’s COVID-19 Watchlist and none appeared on the department’s Closure List. By comparison, 56 school buildings (the highest number to date) appeared on the COVID-19 Watchlist on Nov. 25. 

“This is great news for New Mexico schools. It shows that all the required protocols our school communities have worked so hard to put in place are, indeed, creating a safe environment for our students, educators and school staff as we expand in-person learning,” Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart said. “We are meeting our commitment to safety, and the credit goes to school administrators who put these protocols in place and are making sure they are followed.” 

Schools are placed on the Watchlist if they have at least two Rapid Responses within a 14-day period. They are placed on the Closure List if they have at least four Rapid Responses in 14 days. A Rapid Response includes cases that are identified by testing that occurs up to a day after a school is notified of an initial COVID-19 positive individual who was infectious while on campus.  

All New Mexico school districts and charter schools were permitted to expand in-person learning options beginning Feb. 8, and nearly 50 percent of public schools across the state are now offering a hybrid learning model, including 40 of the state’s 89 districts and several charter schools.  According to data that was compiled on Feb. 22 from the prior week, about 42,000 students and 9,000 educators were on campus regularly for in-person learning. 

New Mexico public schools have a total enrollment of about 330,000 students and total staff of about 50,000. 

No public school has appeared on the closure list for having four or more Rapid Responses.