The Española School District schools will remain online and in a remote model for the entire fall semester.
The Española School Board approved the decision at an Oct. 1 work session.
The decision comes amid a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in New Mexico, though Rio Arriba County since mid-September, has not yet seen a large increase in cases.
The re-entry date into a hybrid model - where students would rotate between in-person and remote learning - had previously been moved to Oct. 19 at the end of the first nine-week period.
Española Superintendent Fred Trujillo told the Board the District has received constantly changing guidance.
He said the District is waiting for the arrival of masks purchased by the Public Education Department, but there is adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) throughout the District.
He said the social distancing plan has 50 percent of students in any classroom at any time, with cohorts set up for the hybrid model.
He said the District has ordered Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) 11 and 13 air filters that will be delivered in early October.
Trujillo said teachers and students are becoming more productive in the remote learning model.
He also gave the Board the results of surveys the District conducted. Out of parents that responded to the survey, 57 percent requested to stay in a remote model, and 30 percent were in favor of returning in the hybrid model.
Of staff members who responded to the survey, 40 percent were “comfortable” or “somewhat comfortable” returning for a hybrid model, and 60 percent preferred to remain remote. Just 16 percent were in favor of an Oct. 19 reentry compared to a Jan. 5 start.
Trujillo gave his recommendation to remain in the remote model for the first semester. Special needs students will receive services they are already receiving. A possibility exists for technology-challenged students to utilize labs, and for struggling students to receive tutoring on campus.
Board President Yolanda Salazar said she is concerned looking at the number of new cases throughout the state about the upcoming flu season and other illnesses that could contribute to a lower immune system.
The Board unanimously approved Trujillo’s recommendation for keeping schools remote for the rest of the calendar year.