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RISD cancels all travel

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Interim Roswell Independent School District Superintendent Mike Gottlieb is heeding the advice of New Mexico’s governor and canceling all school-related travel until further notice over coronavirus concerns, he told the Roswell Daily Record Wednesday evening.  

That includes in-state and out-of-state travel, including sports, he said.

“We do not know the length of the governor’s suggestion,” he said.

Wednesday morning, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the state Department of Health announced three confirmed cases of COVID-19. By the end of the business day, a fourth case had been confirmed, according to a press release from the offices of the governor and the department of health.

Prior to Wednesday’s announcement, the RISD school board had approved several requests for travel from students in the coming weeks. Those included requests from the Hanger 84 Robotics Team to two district competitions in Texas on March 14 and 29, an East Grand Plains Elementary fifth-grade trip to Heritage Museum and Science Spectrum in Lubbock, Texas, on May 14, and from Goddard High School business technology teacher Jose Enriques for a student, Sergio Montenegro, to compete in the Business Professionals of America national competition in Washington D.C. in May.

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At Tuesday’s meeting, Gottlieb informed the board that just that afternoon, the Department of Health and the Public Education Department had advised all school travel would have to be approved by the departments, but late Wednesday, the PED recommended following the governor’s lead in suspending travel for state employees.

With sports and academic teams, as well as staff conferences and recruitment, the district has a lot of people in motion, Gottlieb said.

“You have a whole variety of kids that are involved in a lot of activities that are traveling,” he said.

While the city of Roswell has not yet implemented any changes in response to the coronavirus, other events across the state are being canceled or postponed.

According to a press release Wednesday, Grisham had instructed EXPO New Mexico to postpone the 37th Gathering of Nations Pow Wow in Albuquerque, which had been scheduled for April 23 to 25. 

In the press release, the governor and the Department of Health urged the cancellation of events with large crowds through at least the end of April.

The U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range canceled the Bataan Memorial Death March, which had been scheduled for Sunday.

“The safety of our soldiers, civilians, families and the march’s participants is our top priority,” the Army said in a Facebook post Wednesday announcing the cancellation.

Todd Wildermuth, public information officer for the city of Roswell, said in an email Wednesday afternoon the city has not implemented any travel restrictions on employees but is watching the situation closely. 

Roswell/Chaves County Emergency Manager Karen Sanders will give a report to the City Council at Thursday night’s meeting. The meeting will be streamed on the city’s website.

“Under the circumstances, the city recommends citizens take advantage of that streaming option,” Wildermuth wrote.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.