"First Day of School 2020 - Remote learning" by kfergos is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — At least two schools in New Mexico are sending students home early this week to learn remotely, citing coronavirus outbreak concerns.

Santa Fe Public Schools will have students learn remotely on Tuesday, representing the largest voluntary closure of K-12 schools this semester. Los Lunas, a smaller school district outside of Albuquerque, is going remote on Monday and Tuesday.

Last year, the state’s Public Education Department ordered schools into remote learning based on thresholds of positive COVID-19 tests. This semester schools decide if they’ll shut their doors or not.

Around 20 schools have reported sending children home due to a virus outbreak each month this year, including staffing shortages exacerbated by quarantines for teachers, according to voluntary notices submitted by schools to state education authorities.

When schools pivot to online classes, parents including school staff have to scramble to find childcare.

That’s already a struggle in Santa Fe, where the average teacher is paying around $1,000 in child care costs per month, according to a teacher union survey cited by the school district’s superintendent in a recent editorial.

School districts have been slow to respond to teachers’ need for childcare. Last year, many teachers struggled to teach online classes and parent in person at the same time.


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