As our community continues to see alarming rates of coronavirus, Las Cruces Public Schools is staying the course to prepare for the day when our students and staff can return to school. Reading those words might seem unrealistic right now, but the wellness of our children depends on the work we do to plan for safe, in-person learning.

Parents in our district will hear from each of their children’s teachers sometime before Nov. 11, to see if they prefer their children to return for in-person learning when it’s possible, or if they want them to remain in remote learning? They will also be asked if they are in need of technology, tutoring or family support at this time, because we know that circumstances are fluid. In addition, each school leadership team is finalizing building safety and re-entry plans so that staff and the community can see what the specific plans are for a safe return to each school. After the student information is collected and building safety plans are ready for review, we will formulate a survey to collect data from our teachers and staff.

I think it is important for our community to understand that until our county goes from red to green, according to health criteria from the New Mexico Department of Health, the district cannot return to in-person instruction for our students. As of this article, the New Mexico Public Education Department has not released new guidance for re-entry, and the health conditions in our area do not currently allow us to propose a return plan. However, we will be ready as soon as it is deemed safe and getting this information from parents is the first step.

LCPS has also launched a new section to our website that clearly reports how the virus is affecting our employees. As one of the largest employers in Doña Ana County, LCPS has a responsibility to report these numbers. You can find the status of our case count, district safety protocols, and an extensive list of community resources on our homepage under the COVID-19 Reporting and Response link.

Looking ahead, the Las Cruces Public School Board will hold a special meeting this week to discuss the future of Columbia Elementary School. Two studies have now been completed and they will be presented to the board for consideration. For more information, please visit the Board of Education tab at www.lcps.net. The virtual meeting will be at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 10 and can be watched at www.lcps.tv.

Karen Trujillo, Las Cruces Public Schools