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Leaders discuss new ‘NMSU Ready’ plan at town hall


NMSU President John Floros, Chief COVID-19 Officer (and NMSU Chancellor) Ruth A. Johnston and members of the NMSU COVID-19 Rapid Response Team discussed the NMSU Ready systemwide return-to-campus plan in a June 18 virtual town hall meeting. The plan was released to the community June 16.

At the town meeting, Floros said NMSU is planning for students to return to campus Wednesday, Aug. 19, for a “regular academic semester” which will continue through December and include a commencement. He said students who don’t live in Las Cruces will be asked not to travel during the Thanksgiving break.

Floros said the decision to reopen the campus was based in part on a student survey, which showed that 92 percent of students said, “yes,” they want to return to campus, six percent said “maybe” and only two percent said “no,” Floros said.

Floros acknowledged that three simultaneous crises are currently gripping the country: COVID-19, the damaged economy and the persistent issues of racism, inequality and social justice. He highlighted the Juneteenth celebration and June 19 candlelight vigil hosted by the Black Student Alliance, Black Programs and ASNMSU.

Also from the town hall:

  • The NMSU Ready plan is available at ready.nmsu.edu, with important information for faculty, staff and students as they return to campus. The plan will be updated as guidelines change or new information becomes available.
  • Updates from the COVID-19 Rapid Response Team (formed in May) are emailed weekly to all NMSU employees. Look for the NMSU Ready email Tuesday afternoons, and view an archive at ready.nmsu.edu.
  • Fifteen tiger teams are working out further details of every aspect of the return plans, including alternate plans in the event another stay-at-home order is issued by the governor’s office. One tiger team is following COVID-19 testing and strategies, Johnston said.

View a video archive of this and other town hall sessions, with transcripts, at www.president.nmsu.edu/town-hall/. The next town hall session will be July 9, and likely will focus on the state’s financial crisis.

School district launches re-entry task force

From a Las Cruces Public Schools news release

Las Cruces Public Schools, under the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Karen Trujillo, has appointed an LCPS re-entry task force to develop a plan for teachers, students and staff to return to school Wednesday, Aug. 12, the original date that the 2020-2021 school year was scheduled to begin.  

The task force includes seven key subcommittees, led by district leaders and department heads. Community stakeholders, students, union members and two LCPS board of education members are also part of the group. 

“Our timeline has indicated a target date in July to have this re-entry plan finalized, but we will have a preliminary presentation for the school board on June 25,” Trujillo said. “Between now and then, we have to work on several scenarios that will make re-entry feasible under whatever public health order is in effect in August. Not knowing what that might be, our plan will take into consideration building safety, PPE for teachers and students, continuous learning plans, accommodating our medically fragile students, athletics, activities and how social distancing requirements will impact transportation and how many students we can have in the buildings at one time. There is a lot to consider, but we are on the right track to formulate a plan that will address the needs of all students.”

The task force first met June 3 via video conference and will meet weekly throughout the summer. Guiding principles include creating a safe environment, reducing fear, maintaining continuity of instruction, keeping students and staff safe and healthy, ensuring access and equity for all students and providing ongoing, consistent and transparent communication with all stakeholders. Part of the communications plan includes regular updates through traditional and social media, as well as a dedicated, easy to navigate dashboard on the district website. Public feedback is also encouraged. Comments, suggestions or questions can be sent to returnplan@lcps.net. The list of members on the Task Force can be found on the district website at www.lcps.net.