Expect all schooling to be conducted virtually, at least for the first nine weeks.
The Santa Fe school board has approved a plan that would offer remote instruction to all of the district’s students for at least the first nine weeks of school.
Under the plan, which was approved July 16, school would resume Aug. 20 in an all-virtual environment. When infection transmission rates fall below 1.05, the district plans to start bringing students back in a pilot hybrid model, which would involve a small pupil-to-teacher ratio that would increase 20 percent at a time.
If and when a hybrid model begins, the district says it will “do our best” to accommodate families and teachers who wish to continue virtual instruction, according to a statement detailing the plan.
The plan reflects an agreement between Santa Fe Public Schools and the Santa Fe chapter of the National Education Association and must now be approved by the state Public Education Department.
The plan comes on the heels of rising rates of coronavirus infections across the state and in Santa Fe, as well as conflicting reports and uncertainty surrounding transmission rates for children and a nationwide debate over the safety of reopening schools as U.S. infections surge.
That uncertainty was reflected in a survey sent out earlier in the summer to Santa Fe parents, older students and teachers asking them to rank their preference for full re-entry, fully virtual instruction or a hybrid approach. The results found parents were equally divided among the three options, while half of faculty and staff preferred remote instruction and nearly half of respondents in grades 4 through 12 preferred full re-entry.
By Kristen Cox Roby. Photos from SFPS "Re-entry Planning Overview 2020-2021"
ArtWorks, an experiential arts program for Santa Fe Public School children and their teachers, has received more than $15,000 in recent New Mexico Arts funding.
The ArtWorks program was awarded funding from New Mexico Arts to support its arts education model in the Santa Fe Public Schools. ArtWorks also funds through the NM CARES emergency funding opportunity. New Mexico Arts awarded 42 nonprofit arts organizations across New Mexico to help deal with the economic hardships caused by the forced closure of their operations due to the coronavirus pandemic.
ArtWorks, a program of the Partners in Education Foundation, engages students in higher-order thinking, including critical thinking and making connections between concepts, in order to help them succeed in school. It also trains teachers to integrate the arts into teaching math and language arts.
ArtWorks works with Santa Fe public schools, arts organizations, artists and philanthropists to bring Santa Fe’s arts community into the schools through a program involving art-making, viewing live performances and exhibits, and achieving understanding through inquiry and reflection.
Look for the article on ArtWorks' art and poetry program, with ideas for teaching children to write poetry individually or in groups, in our Fall 2020 issue, launching Sept. 1.
For more information, visit artworkssantafe.org.
By Kristen Cox Roby. Drawing by Allison Treviso, third grade, El Camino Real Academy; teacher Patricia Gay-Webb, from the ArtWorks Art & Poetry Anthology 2019-2020.
Santa Fe Public Schools’ plan for returning to school in the fall is due to be submitted to the state Public Education Department on July 15. But what it will look like likely hinges on responses from parent and student surveys as well as the current state of the coronavirus outbreak in New Mexico.
On June 20, the state education department issued its official recommendations for re-entry, outlining a hybrid approach that would limit the number of students in school buildings and alternate in-person instruction with remote learning. The state’s goal is to return all schools to a full schedule as soon as it can be safely done, the department said.
But the state also outlined three possibilities for a return, depending on public health conditions: fully remote, hybrid and full re-entry.
Santa Fe Schools Superintendent Veronica C. García sent out surveys in June to parents and older students asking them to rank those three choices. On June 30, she outlined the options during a school board meeting. She also added two possible hybrid alternatives: one, a mix of remote-only and fully-in-person depending on each family’s needs and concerns; and another, prioritizing in-person learning for students in pre-K through third grade and those with special needs, while offering a hybrid program for older students, possibly through a lottery system.
García has emphasized she wants to be flexible in designing a plan that will accommodate everyone from families with health concerns to families for whom childcare is essential.
“I recognize that re-entry and what it means for your family and your children are serious considerations for you,” she said in a July 3 letter to families. I know that many of you are very concerned about sending your children back to school, while others have to go to work and have childcare considerations and need their children in school as much as possible, and additional factors that are unique to each family.”
To see the state’s guidelines, García’s school board presentation and letters to families and staff, visit sfps.info.
By Kristen Cox Roby. Photo by Claudette Sutton.
Many Mothers — a free, volunteer, community-based support service available to any family with a newborn regardless of income level — has changed the way it provides services in this new pandemic environment.
The organization has resumed pairing families with volunteers to help in the home, run errands and offer other services. Many Mothers has consulted medical professionals about best practices and is equipped with current health protocols to keep families and volunteers safe.
Many Mothers is also distributing free diapers, wipes, formula, and baby food for income-eligible families on a monthly basis. For more information, call (505) 983-5984. The staff can also help families access resources for proper nutrition, healthcare, clothing and guidance on avoiding developmental delays.
The organization has hired a new bilingual navigator, Zoey Barnes. A native Santa Fean who holds an MSW from the University of Denver, Barnes will be working with up to 35 families with infants a year, focusing on families that have the highest need for access to community resources. She plans to follow each family intensively to ensure they can navigate systems in order to have what they need for their children to thrive.
To help families with young children who are facing extra difficulties now in paying rent and meeting other essential expenses, Many Mothers is requesting donations to its Babies' Basic Needs Fund.
For more information on Many Mothers, visit manymothers.org.
By Kristen Cox Roby. Courtesy photo.
Wise Fool New Mexico has received a $30,000 Art Works award from the National Endowment for the Arts for circus arts training and performances.
The award was part of $84 million in NEA grants across the country, including $1,007,000 for 12 organizations in New Mexico.
“Wise Fool believes that the circus arts are more important now than ever,” Wise Fool Co-executive Director Kristen Woods said. “We have seen over quarantine that the arts have played a pivotal role in making life enjoyable and sustainable. Circus connects us, brings a spark to life, and helps us work through feelings and heal. As we are able to practice together, we are excited to share the benefits of circus with our community.”
SITE Santa Fe also received an Art Works award of $20,000 for a major retrospective exhibition of work by Brazilian artist Regina Silveira. Due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, the exhibition has been postponed, and it is now scheduled to open in the fall of 2021 and extend through the spring of 2022.
Other local recipients included the Museum of International Folk Art and Santa Fe Pro Musica.
Wise Fool's studio is currently closed but they are offering online circus arts classes. For more information, visit wisefoolnewmexico.org.
By Kristen Cox Roby. Courtesy photo.