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After an announcement by the New Mexico Public Education Department Friday, March 27, that schools would remain closed through the rest of the year and students would be on a pass/fail basis rather than a letter grade system for the duration, Las Cruces Public Schools Superintendent Karen Trujillo talked about how Las Cruces schools would move forward.
Trujillo said the system is developing learning plans for district seniors who should be graduating this year. Most seniors should have already been contacted through their schools to talk about their needs. By April 6, LCPS should have a learning plan going forward for all its students through the end of the year.
“Our instructional specialists are developing a plan for delivery of the content, keeping in mind some of our students have digital access and some will get their information in packets,” she said. “We also have to [develop a plan] keeping in mind we have some English language learners and special ed students.”
While figuring out how to deliver and exchange information with students in many different ways, LCPS working to train its teachers in various digital platforms.
Trujillo said LCPS completed a survey last week asking students about their access to digital services and it turns out most of them do, even if some just by phone. But, even then, sometimes families must share a single device, using it for work, school and everything else they need it for.
“We are focused on not being dependent on that as the delivery,” she said. “We have to be cognizant of the equipment issues as well. The majority do have access but not everybody, and quality varies.”
The idea is not to provide a regular school day for students because circumstances are so up in the air right now, Trujillo said. Rather the idea is to keep students engaged with learning, looking at what the “big ticket” things they need to be working on.
“The important thing to know is this isn’t a plan where students will be doing school,” she said. “This is providing learning targets. It will be very different and very fluid.”
Seniors looking to graduate will need to keep up and pass competency requirements as determined between themselves and their individual educators.
During a March 27 on-line press conference Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart said no qualifying high school senior will be denied the ability to graduate, and he said alternative learning opportunities will be available through mid-June. Individual schools and systems will create plans with seniors in mind.
Milestone moments for seniors still need to happen, he said, citing proms and graduation ceremonies.
“These events have to happen,” he said. “If that means we have to postpone them to a later date, we will look at the prevailing public health order at the time and make a decision as to when they can be held.”
For college purposes, the grade point average graduating seniors ended up with as of the 2019 fall semester is the one they will be going forward with into the future. Students currently in dual credit courses with Doña Ana Community College or New Mexico State University will also be receiving pass/fail credits for those classes.
“Be patient and give your children grace,” Trujillo said. “In the grand scheme of 12 years of education, six weeks is not going to make or break your child’s education. Exercise every day, read, play games, have conversations, connect with friend and family.”