Santa Fe Public Schools will likely begin the new school year from home, the district announced Wednesday.
The school district and the local teachers union, NEA-Santa Fe, reached an agreement Wednesday to begin the school year with a fully remote program for the first nine weeks, starting on August 20.
The administration plans to present the proposal to the SFPS Board of Education for approval at a board meeting on Thursday at 5:30 pm. It would also need approval from the state to become official.
"We want to reiterate that we, NEA-Santa Fe and the District, believe that under normal circumstances the safest and best place for students to be is in the schools, not only for their academic growth but their social and emotional well-being," the announcement reads. "However, our number one priority has to be their safety and health, and these are not normal circumstances."
According to the announcement, bringing students back into the physical classroom will depend on the rate of new COVID-19 infections dropping to the levels deemed safe by the state to reopen the economy.
"We will assess infection transmission rates and when they fall below 1.05 we will begin to bring students back into a pilot hybrid model," the announcement says.
The current transmission rate posted in the Department of Health's "gating criteria" web report is 1.08.
According to this proposal, faculty and staff will be given an extra week to prepare to jump into a full time distance-learning program and will go back to work on August 11.
The announcement comes hours after SFPS Superintendent Dr. Veronica C. García released a statement notifying the public that two contract employees tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of school workers who have tested positive for the virus in the last week to four.
The first two employees, both members of Facilities and Maintenance Department, tested positive on Monday.
On Monday, the district also released the results of a survey that found 51% of SFPS faculty and staff preferred to start the school year with a fully remote learning model, as opposed to a hybrid model or bringing students back to the classroom full time; 32% preferred the hybrid model over the other two options, and only 17% preferred a full reentry.
Parents who responded to the survey were more equally split between the three options, however the majority said they preferred remote or hybrid models.
On the other hand, 41% of students said they wanted to go back to school in person.
Thursday's School Board meeting can be viewed live at the SFPS website, www.sfps.info.