New Mexico Suspends School Board Over Mask Mandate

This past Wednesday, the state Public Education Department of New Mexico issued a suspension to a rural school board of a district with about 225 students after it went again Michelle Lujan Grisham’s, the Democratic Governor of New Mexico, newly instated mask mandate for all children to be wearing masks at school.

“The five-member Floyd school board voted last week to make masks and social distancing optional and reaffirmed its decision in another vote Monday despite warnings from state officials that they could face suspension or other enforcement actions,” reported The Albuquerque Journal, who went on to add, “The district’s superintendent has been ordered to report directly to outgoing state Education Secretary Ryan Stewart.”

“The Floyd board voted July 26 at a special meeting to make masks and social distancing optional and to disregard state guidelines on indoor air quality, transportation, surveillance testing, and other COVID Safe Practices. Stewart sent board members a memo the next day, advising that their actions were inconsistent with state requirements,” stated a report from  The Los Alamos Daily Post.

Back in the latter half of July, the New Mexico Public Education Department put forth a new series of guidances concerning masks and protocols for schools. “All individuals in elementary schools regardless of vaccination status are required to wear a mask while: in a school building, on school transportation or at an indoor school-sponsored event,” reported KOB, who went on to add, “Schools must identify the process for ensuring compliance with mask requirements, including posting signage in school facilities, announcing mask requirements at events and other necessary means for enforcement.”

Grisham went on to say, “In-person learning for New Mexico children is my top priority. And with safety guidelines and unobtrusive health requirements in place, it can happen safely – and for the well-being and growth of our children, it must happen. Until vaccinations are available to children of every age, it will be incumbent on each of us, in school environments, to do everything we can to minimize risk – and that includes face-coverings.”

Stewart has issued a memo aimed at the board members in which he issued a threat stating, “We cannot put students, staff and their families at unnecessary risk as we continue the fight against the Delta variant. By ignoring these basic safety measures, the board impairs the ability of the district to offer safe and uninterrupted in-person learning opportunities.”

The chair of the Republican Party in New Mexico, Steve Pearce, also responded to the suspensions by issuing a defence for the school district: “The Republican Party stands shoulder to shoulder with the Floyd School Board and all other boards that refuse to accept these statewide orders from Santa Fe.” This stance was seconded by House Republican Leader Jim Townsend of Artesia stating, “Instead of politicizing and headline-grabbing, I sure wish that the governor and PED would have implemented a serious plan to address the learning gap and the myriad of other issues that have been exacerbated during COVID.”

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