New Mexico State University will require students and staff to get vaccinated or provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test on a weekly basis starting Sept. 30. This includes early college high school students in Carlsbad.
This new policy will affect all colleges under the NMSU system including the Carlsbad campus, according to an announcement released the first week of August.
Carlsbad Municipal Schools Superintendent Dr. Gerry Washburn said the new policy will affect all students at the Carlsbad Early College High School, which is on the NMSU Carlsbad campus.
A memo released by NMSU’s Vice Chancellor Ruth Johnston stated that the new policy would only apply to students who take dual-credit or college classes in person.
The memo states students who just take high school classes are subject only to the policies of their school district and not the NMSU system’s protocols.
Washburn said all students at CECHS will have to get vaccinated or test weekly because students take classes all throughout the campus.
CMS will make testing available to unvaccinated students by the time the policy goes into effect so they can comply with the NMSU requirements, Washburn said.
“Carlsbad Municipal Schools has enjoyed a long and beneficial partnership with NMSU Carlsbad,” Washburn said. “We are working closely with the staff at NMSU Carlsbad on the transition to an independent community college. As a part of that transition we reached out to NMSU Carlsbad and indicated that as we brought our student testing program, which is voluntary, online that we would share those resources with the Carlsbad Campus.”
CECHS has 203 students with about 110 taking dual-credit classes.
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The district is still required to follow New Mexico Public Education Department guidelines, and have unvaccinated staff test for COVID-19 weekly at all CMS schools.
Washburn said the district plans to use funds from the American Rescue Plan Act and Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief Fund (ESSER III) to cover the costs of COVID-19 testing, during a board meeting on Aug. 17.
Thirty-two percent of residents of Eddy County are fully vaccinated, and 39% have received at least one dose as of Aug. 23.
Both NMSU and CMS require students, staff and visitors to wear masks indoors, even if vaccinated.
NMSU employees seeking to be excluded from the face-covering requirement can notify their supervisor and contact the Office of Institutional Equity and students can contact the Dean of Students Office.
Elementary and secondary school students are required to have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Plan to be exempt from wearing a mask indoors, according to the PED.
“There are very limited circumstances under which a face mask cannot be worn,” stated the PED’s COVID-19 Response Toolkit for New Mexico’s Public Schools. “In these cases, fully remote or fully outdoor learning are the best options to keep the student safe, as well as other students, staff, and the greater school community.”
Claudia Silva is a reporter from the UNM Local Reporting Fellowship. She can be reached at [email protected], by phone at (575) 628-5506 or on Twitter @thewatchpup.