Home News Local News Dexter, Lake Arthur plan for student return

Dexter, Lake Arthur plan for student return

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Elisa Begueria, Lake Arthur Municipal Schools superintendent, left, says that the district school board is expected to vote on its plan for hybrid learning on Tuesday. She is seen with Mike Espiritu, president of the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp., during an October 2019 meeting. (Daily Record File Photo)

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Lake Arthur and Dexter schools plan to have their students back in classrooms at least 50% of the time on Feb. 8, pending some final steps.

Dexter Consolidated School District plans to divide students into two groups, cohorts, with one group in classes Mondays and Tuesdays and the other on Thursdays and Fridays. (Daily Record File Photo)

Lake Arthur is awaiting the approval of its Board of Education, expected during a Tuesday meeting. Dexter Consolidated School District has the approval of its board, but must complete a fire marshal inspection of all of its instructional buildings and receive final approval of the New Mexico Public Education Department.

“We look forward to having our students back in the classroom,” said Lesa Dodd, superintendent of Dexter schools.

Elisa Begueria, superintendent of Lake Arthur Municipal Schools, echoed that thought.

“We have reviewed our procedures and protocols and adjusted schedules and curriculum in order to bring our students back gradually in a safe and positive learning environment,” she said. “We are excited with the prospect of having our students back, while committed to their safety, as well as that of our staff and community.”

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Information on Hagerman Municipal Schools’ return to hybrid instruction was not available or posted online by press time.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico Public Education Department announced Jan. 26 that all New Mexico K-12 schools able to do so safely could reintroduce hybrid learning — some online learning and some classroom instruction — starting Feb. 8. School districts with 100 or fewer students could return to all in-person learning if meeting in ratios of five or fewer students per teacher.

Most New Mexico public school students have been receiving online instruction only since March 13 after state orders banned most face-to-face instruction as a way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Exceptions have been made for students with special needs and for very young students, prekindergarten though third grade, who could not learn well with just online instructional methods. They were allowed to meet in small groups of five or fewer students at a time. Some private schools also have been offering classroom instruction.

Dodd said that plans now call for school principals to divide students into two cohorts. Cohort A will meet in-person Mondays and Tuesdays and learn online the other weekdays. Cohort B will meet in-person Thursdays and Fridays and receive remote instruction other days.

Wednesday will have remote learning only for the district while school facilities are sanitized. Students unable or unwilling to return to classrooms yet will still have some form of remote learning available, Dodd said.

Begueria said that Lake Arthur school facilities had two COVID safe practice inspections, one by Public Education Department officials and the other by state fire marshal officers, and that the district received certificates of readiness.

She said the district plans to have older students meet in person for core subjects such as math, English language arts, science and history. They will receive remote instruction for elective classes.

Prekindergarten through third grade students have been meeting in-person for small group sessions for both Dexter and Lake Arthur since spring 2020.

Lake Arthur has about 120 total enrollment, while Dexter has about 800 students in elementary, middle school and high school.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.