As the coronavirus pandemic continues to grow worldwide, New Mexico’s schools will remain closed through the end of the school year, according to an announcement this morning by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the Public Education Department, or PED.

At the time of this writing, there have been 136 cases of COVID-19, including one death. A previous emergency health order had closed the schools through April 6.

“We’re working vry hard to contain the virus, and we have to continue to take aggressive steps to mitigate spread and protect New Mexicans of every age all across the state. It is more important than ever that we make sure all New Mexicans are heeding the imperative to stay home,” Lujan Grisham said. “Keeping schools closed is one of the most important tools we have to support the social distancing that can help us reduce and mitigate the spread of the virus.”

The school closings mean that graduations and proms will be postponed, according to the press release, and students will not be required to make up the missed instructional days. School districts are required to come up with “technology based and non-technology-based continuous learning plans,” said public education secretary Ryan Stewart.

Individual districts will design measures by which students can demonstrate eligibility for graduation, the press release says. Those measures could include testing, completing a series of assignments, passing an exam or demonstrating applied work experience.

Seniors will have until June 19 to demonstrate eligibility to graduate, and can make up work in the summer. No student will be denied graduation for lack of access to demonstrate eligibility, the press release says.

Graduation ceremonies will be held virtually or postponed, depending on the prevailing health order at the time.

All school districts in the state have plans to provide meals during this period.

Both federal and state standardized testing have been waived for the school year.

Options for graduation include passing a locally designed test or completing a locally designed series of assignments; achieving a “set cut score” on a college entrance exam or demonstrating applied work experience.

School athletics are expected to resume this summer with practices and camps. Decisions about varsity letters will be made locally.

Child care facilities, both home-based and center-based, are considered essential services and remain open. The governor’s office is also “incentivizing child care facilities to remain open,” according to an FAQ sheet on the closures. The press release is available here.

Leota Harriman
Leota Harriman

Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at news.ind.editor@gmail.com.