All New Mexico public schools closed for 3 weeks amid coronavirus concerns

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – All New Mexico Public schools will be closed for three weeks, starting Monday, March 16 amid growing concerns about the coronavirus, according to Public Education Department. There are now six presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in New Mexico.

There are not currently any known links between the Coronavirus and any public school staff member or student.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office says the closure is a “proactive measure”. Now, both school districts and families are working to figure out what to do.

“Figuring out what we do about meals, what we do about making up the days that are gonna be missed, how we meet all the different contracts and agreements for wages. it goes on and on,” said Monica Armenta with Albuquerque Public Schools.

About 22,000 Albuquerque Public Schools students rely on free or reduced meals they eat at school.

“This is a no-win situation. Putting kids out of school absolutely puts some families in a bind we completely recognize that,” said Armenta.

“I think it’s going to create some type of strain on them finding someone to watch their kids so they can go to work and provide financial support for their family,” said an APS parent.

“We are advising the public of this forthcoming announcement tonight so that parents and students can prepare for this upcoming change and begin to make arrangements,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “We will be informing the public of additional measures that the state will be taking to ease the burden on families and educators and ensure that children continue to be fed and cared for.”

The state is not yet saying if schools will have to make up this time at the end of the school year.

APS says it is expecting to continue paying school staff during this time. However, the PED did not clarify if all other district employees will continue being paid.

The Governor is holding a press conference Friday at 10 a.m.

The announcement comes after the New Mexico Health Secretary issued a public health order temporarily prohibiting mass gatherings in New Mexico that brings together 100 or more people in a single room Thursday. The public health order defines mass gatherings where people gather in space like auditoriums, stadiums, arenas, conference centers and theaters.

This is a developing story, KRQE News 13 will provide updates as more information is released.

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