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Local higher ed schools proceed with reopening plans

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Local higher education institutions still plan to start classes Aug. 17, although in-person reopening plans have been delayed for most public school K-12 students in New Mexico.

The presidents of New Mexico Military Institute and Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell have indicated that their previously announced plans regarding the fall semester are still in place, even after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico Public Education Department issued guidelines Thursday that require public schools to wait until Sept. 8 at the earliest to begin holding classroom sessions for most students.

According to a news conference and state announcements, online learning for K-12 students can begin whenever school districts choose, and small-group, in-person instruction will be allowed starting in August for K-3 students and those with special needs.

New Mexico Military Institute instructs both junior college and high school grades, but Maj. Gen. Jerry Grizzle, NMMI president and superintendent, posted a letter to the NMMI website Thursday after the governor’s announcement indicating that the school is unique in that it boards 100% of cadets. That enables it to continue with current plans and the start of classes on Aug. 17.

He also issued an update to the reopening plan released July 15. The update indicates that 250 cadets and basic camp members have already arrived. Grizzle wrote that the Institute has implemented a daily screening process for all cadets, who will remain on Post (or campus) without leaving for at least 14 days after their arrival. They also will receive two COVID tests within a five-day period and must test negative both times before entering a classroom. Faculty and staff also have to be tested and have negative results to be allowed on Post.

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Grizzle said in a previous interview that all instruction for the fall will be in-person, classroom instruction. Online or remote learning will be allowed only for students in states or countries that will not allow them to leave or will not grant visas.

ENMU-R also is moving forward with its plan to start fall classes Aug. 17, said President Shawn Powell. The school posted a revised “return to campus plan” Thursday.

“We are going to continue on with our Aug. 17 opening date,” he said. “Our plan from the 17th on, unless we get other guidance, is to go ahead and start with online, distance classes and also to have the face-to-face instruction in the technical education and health education courses that require the direct, one-on-one interaction with students.”

Powell has explained previously that certain courses — such as nursing assistance, phlebotomy and automotive technology — require students to receive in-person instruction to meet the course learning objectives or the requirements of credentialing bodies.

 

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