Renewed mask mandate will impact Jal Schools

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By John Earp

Last Tuesday, Governor Lujan Grisham temporarily reimplemented a statewide requirement that facemasks be worn in all public indoor places, “with only limited exceptions, and regardless of vaccination status,” according to a press release on the governor’s official website. The state also has issued a requirement that all workers at private, public, and charter schools in New Mexico either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or otherwise submit to COVID-19 testing on a weekly basis. According to the governor’s official website, the “spread of COVID-19 has increased dramatically in recent weeks, driven by the highly infectious “Delta” variant and primarily unvaccinated populations.

Jal Schools Superintendent Brian Snider, when asked when the new masking policy would be implemented, said “Next Monday. It’s supposed to be by Friday, but the football game’s outside, so it won’t be affected.” When asked if he knew if an individual who had already had COVID-19, would they still need to get a vaccine, Snider said, “I’m not really sure on that one.” Snider said there have been a few cases of COVID-19 in Jal Schools, but not as many as Carlsbad and Roswell, both of which closed their schools temporarily last week after COVID-19 outbreaks. Snider said there would have to be at least three rapid responses to COVID tests for there to be a need to shut down the schools, and that the district is hoping for the best. All indoor sports and classes will be required to be masked. Prior to this latest public health order from the governor, only elementary students and unvaccinated 6th-12th grade students had been required to wear masks. Snider said students did not have to be vaccinated, “but it is better if they are.”

The Jal School District will be hosting another COVID vaccine clinic “in a couple of weeks,” according to Mr. Snider.

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