LOS LUNAS—School of Dreams Academy and Los Lunas Schools will both remain in a remote learning model beginning the second semester.
During SODA’s Governing Council meeting on Dec. 1, the board voted unanimously to approve Superintendent Mike Ogas’ recommendation that the charter school remain in a remote learning model until “further notice.”
And during the Los Lunas Schools Board of Education meeting on Dec. 8, the board voted unanimously to remain in a remote learning model.
Acting Superintendent for Los Lunas Schools, Walter Gibson, recommended the district remain in remote learning to start the second semester and again vote on Jan. 19, the next board meeting, to discuss further about the learning model going forward. Gibson recommended that date, citing no clear direction from the state.
The board of education then voted to remain in remote learning for the first couple days of school –– the semester begins on Jan. 4 –– before coming together for a special meeting on Jan. 5 to discuss the rest of the semester.
But the state –– the governor’s office, the New Mexico Public Education Department and the New Mexico Department of Health –– on Friday, Dec. 11, announced a temporary school closure for the first week of the second semester. The closure, according to the press release from PED, states “no in-person learning will be permitted during the weeks of January 4 and January 11, 2021.”
Those in a hybrid model won’t be able to meet again until Jan. 18. But because Los Lunas Schools and SODA remained in a remote model before –– and because Valencia County is currently in the “red zone” with COVID-19 cases –– it may be longer before hybrid learning is a possibility.
However, Gibson said he would like to see what the district can do next semester with getting special education students back into the classroom.
As it stands, Los Lunas Schools doesn’t have any caveats for special education students meeting in-person like other remote districts in the state. Instead, those special education students participated remotely like other students, albeit in smaller classroom sizes over Zoom.
Gibson invited a parent in the school district, Niki Wolff, to speak on his behalf about the challenges her six students face, including one who is “intellectually disabled” and attends Bosque Farms Elementary School.
“We have tirelessly worked with the special education staff with his distance learning and they are wonderful doing what they can. We have been very patient but it has been clear that online learning is not working for his learning needs or meeting the IEP goals that are set before him,” Wolff said.
“And we know we are not the only family with a special needs child facing this … I know it’s hard for some of you to understand where I’m coming from when you may not have a special needs child in your home,” she said. “I didn’t know what that was like either until I had my own. So I’m asking for these children and for these families for you to have compassion and see what you can do to help get the kids in for in-person learning.”
Board members agreed that finding a way to get these students into the classroom was a top priority for next semester. Board member Steven Otero said there “comes a time when we need to be creative.”
Board president Bryan Smith said he wants to see children get back into the classroom as soon as possible, and a plan needs to be put together as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, with SODA, Ogas said a priority next semester is to get more Chromebooks for students who are in need of one. On Dec. 3, the charter school received 100 computers and another 150 are expected.
Ogas also put together a taskforce to help establish an electronic packet for students that doesn’t require internet connection, just uploaded on a weekly basis by going to the school parking lot and using the WiFi on campus.