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RISD students lacking vaccines at risk of being dropped

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More than 100 students in the Roswell Independent School District are at risk of being dropped from classes if they do not receive required immunizations by the end of the year, the RISD superintendent said Thursday.

The state of New Mexico requires all children in daycare and schools to have certain immunizations completed.

According to the New Mexico Department of Health, all children in kindergarten through 12th grade must have completed vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis; polio; measles, mumps and rubella; hepatitis B; and varicella.

Kindergarteners are also required to have the hepatitis A vaccine, and those in sixth and seventh grades also should have the meningococcal meningitis vaccine.

RISD Superintendent Mike Gottlieb told the school board at its meeting Thursday that around 105 students have not completed the required immunizations. If they do not do so by Dec. 31, the school district must drop them from enrollment, Gottlieb said.

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“It doesn’t matter if it’s remote, it doesn’t matter if it’s virtual. We have to drop them,” he said.

Gottlieb said he has worked with Lt. Gov. Howie Morales on the issue.

“The ruling came down that this is an issue that is in statute and we have no choice on this issue at this point in time,” Gottlieb said.

The state does grant exemptions from vaccinations on medical or religious grounds, according to DOH. Such exemptions must go through an approval process.

According to the health department, 103 children between the ages of 4 and 18 in Chaves County were granted exemption in the 2019 calendar year.

Gottlieb also reported to the board that having the district operate remotely the week after Thanksgiving has helped lower the number of COVID-19 cases reported in the district. The board voted at its November meeting on the proposal.

From Nov. 30 to Dec. 4, almost all staff worked remotely, except for cafeteria workers, maintenance and janitorial staff. All students — including those with individual education plans or children of district staff who have been allowed in school buildings — learned from home.

“It’s been very small since the board allowed us to have that one week off after Thanksgiving. Our biggest number has been five. We’ve had a couple days where we’ve had no cases reported,” he said.

The district will also operate remotely following the Christmas break from Jan. 4 to Jan. 8.

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

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