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Year in review: Pandemic takes center stage in education year

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COVID-19 was the center of education points in 2021, simply because it was in 2020. Controversy over the correct response to the pandemic introduced state consideration to the tiny Floyd Municipal School district, which enrolls 55 college students.

Despite state mandates, the Floyd college board on July 26 determined it might make COVID-19 prevention measures that embrace mask-wearing and social distancing optionally available in the district. Any COVID-19 insurance policies, board members mentioned, must be a matter of native management.

The state cracked down. After a warning, Ryan Stewart, then the New Mexico Public Education Department Secretary, on Aug. 4 suspended the Floyd college board however saved Superintendent Damon Terry in his publish. Stewart appointed Stan Rounds, government director of the New Mexico Coalition of Educational Leaders and the New Mexico Superintendents Association, to characterize the Floyd district earlier than the state.

The Floyd college board’s rise up and the PED’s response made headlines nationwide.

A listening to for the suspended board members is about to start at 9 a.m. Jan. 24 and proceed on Jan. 25, based on PED spokesperson Judy Robinson.

In mid-August, board member Jeff Essary was hospitalized with COVID-19 however even from his hospital room insisted the state was performing past its energy in upholding the COVID-19 prevention mandates.

The board that may face hearings earlier than the PED in January won’t embrace Essary. He misplaced his seat to Kenneth Reed in the Nov. 2 election in a four-way race. The different 4 members as of Aug. 4 are nonetheless on the board.

Board members Charlsea Lee and Vicki Bannister retained their seats in the election, and the seats of members Leon Nall and Ryan Bollema weren’t up for election in November.

Attorneys for each the suspended college board members and the PED have declined touch upon how the election impacts the contested suspension.

Resistance to masks was robust in different college districts, as properly.

On July 27, mother and father demonstrated towards masks mandates in Clovis and Portales, saying masks are ineffective towards the virus, interfered with studying and would make kids ailing whereas depriving them of oxygen.

In early August, after listening to anti-mask mother and father protest, the Clovis Municipal School Board voted to ship a letter to the PED opposing state intrusion on native management, however took no motion on masks mandates. The Portales Municipal School Board determined to uphold the masks mandate afterward a 4-1 vote after comparable protests had been aired.

In February, months of remote-only education gave solution to hybrid studying, in which college students in excessive faculties alternated between attending in-person courses and distant studying at public excessive faculties in Clovis and Portales.

On April 5, all public faculties in New Mexico opened their doorways to all college students. Outbreaks of COVID-19 continued to shut faculties for a couple of days at a time, however faculties remained open general.

PED officers rescinded a two-week closure in May at Portales High School that was referred to as as a consequence of error. Superintendent Johnnie Cain mentioned the PED incorrectly counted a case in the college’s daycare as a part of the highschool constructing.

In June, highschool seniors acquired their diplomas in reside public ceremonies however underneath strict distancing and masking restrictions.

In August, public faculties opened doorways to all college students, topic to masks and distancing protocols, however Clovis Community College and Eastern New Mexico University continued to restrict in-person courses and on-campus actions in favor of on-line, distant courses.

In May, nevertheless, ENMU held its first outside commencement ceremony in a long time at Greyhound Stadium.

Aside from COVID-19 insurance policies, public college academics, directors and oldsters in Curry and Roosevelt counties expressed considerations in the autumn of 2021 in regards to the PED’s proposed social research curriculum masking grades kindergarten via twelfth grade.

Parents expressed considerations about “critical race theory” parts in the proposed curriculum, though the phrase will not be used in the proposed pointers.

Critical race principle, or CRT, contains instructing that racism has been part of U.S. historical past and social insurance policies since slavery was launched a century earlier than the Declaration of Independence.

Conservative leaders and oldsters expressed concern that CRT teaches kids to determine with oppressor and oppressed teams primarily based on race at an early age, which they are saying solely widens racial divides. They additionally say that CRT serves to decrease patriotism and query American values.

Some academics in Clovis and Portales objected to the state’s social research plan, arguing they didn’t have ample time to amass the brand new background and instructing abilities the brand new requirements would require.

They additionally mentioned the content material proposed to be taught could be controversial amongst mother and father.

In Clovis and Portales, directors mentioned the brand new social research pointers are imprecise and lots of key phrases are undefined. They additionally questioned whether or not the quantity of fabric required at every grade stage could possibly be adequately taught in the course of a college year.

PED officers have set a purpose to start out social research education underneath the brand new pointers in fall 2022.

In the Nov. 2 college board elections, former trainer Sharon Epps beat out incumbent Kyle Snider, 488 votes to 216, and one other former trainer, Rosa Sanchez, who acquired 49 votes, for the District 1 seat on the Clovis Municipal School Board.

In Roosevelt County, Braden Fraze claimed a good four-way race for Position 4 of the Portales college board. Fraze took 68 votes, in comparison with 56 for Meredith Seifert, 52 for incumbent Antonio Sanchez and 10 for William Hilliard.

The place 3 race was received by Jimmie Standifer, who took 92 votes towards Angela Smith’s 69. The race was open, with Alan Garrett opting to not run once more.

Mark Peabody simply received a three-way race for the Texico college board’s Position 4 seat. Peabody took 91 votes, versus 30 for Troy Teague and eight for Dustin Ptolemy.

Dora retained Jana Roberts for Position 4, with 61 votes versus Shawna Wade’s 52.

Voters in each counties overwhelmingly permitted capital enchancment taxes and mill levy questions in Portales, Texico, Melrose, Elida, Grady and Dora.

Other highlights for education in 2021 included:

• Parents appeared to assume additional assist to catch up after a year of digital studying must be the highest precedence for spending $16.4 million in federal COVID-19 pandemic emergency funds the Clovis Municipal Schools district is anticipating.

• Eli Terry, 17, was elected governor of Boys State New Mexico throughout Boys State June 1-4. Boys State was held on-line as a consequence of COVID considerations.

• The Clovis Community College Board of Trustees added Jan Bradburn to its fold. She changed longtime District 2 consultant Arnold Martinez, who resigned his seat as a consequence of a transfer out of the district.

• Eastern New Mexico University regents begrudgingly accepted a tuition and charges improve for the 2022-23 educational year on Dec. 10. By a 5-0 vote, regents permitted a tuition improve of three% and a charges improve of 4%.

• ENMU fell slightly below the 5,000 mark for enrollment this semester, with the Portales campus on Friday reporting a fall-to-fall enrollment drop of 5.3%.

• In March, the ENMU Board of Regents welcomed new regents Trish Ruiz and Phillip Bustos whose phrases are six years. The board additionally welcomed scholar regent Chandlar Head for a two-year time period. They changed Terry Othick, Ed Tatum and scholar regent Joseph Gergel.