The Latest News from Rio Rancho Public Schools
Rio Rancho Public Schools would like to inform you of the following updates as of January 12, 2022, related to the 21-22 School Year Reentry Plans and our response to the COVID-19 public health pandemic:
New NMPED Toolkit Released
The New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) has updated their COVID-19 Response Toolkit for Public Schools. This is the guidance all public schools are required to follow regarding COVID-19. Click here to read through the updated toolkit.
The update includes seven changes. The change that will provide the largest impact includes a reduction in the self-isolation and quarantine period from 10 days to five days, with certain requirements and restrictions, followed by five days of vigilant mask wearing for students and staff. Details of that change can be found on page 4, page 6 and page 8 of the newest toolkit. These changes will take effect immediately for all students and staff.
Additional changes can be found on page 5, page 22, page 28 and page 31. The full list of changes can be found on page 2 in the yellow box at the bottom of the page.
How You Can Help Keep Schools Open
As partners, we can adhere to COVID-19 safety measures and help keep our schools open for in-person learning as positive COVID-19 cases in our community begin to rise. Here are a few things parents and guardians can do to help:
If your child is experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, please keep them home and get them tested. RRPS has a testing site exclusively for our students and staff. Testing is free and registration can be done online at: https://www.rrps.net/page/covid-testing This site uses rapid testing via a shallow nasal swab, and most results are returned within 2 hours. The site is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Report positive cases to us via our online reporting form at: https://fs9.formsite.com/rrps/yfxb9ailbs/index.html?1617113699536 Immediately reporting cases allows our Rapid Response Team to quickly identify close contacts and begin the disinfection process to reduce the possible spread of COVID-19.
Remind your child(ren) to continue to practice social distancing, wear a face mask properly, wash their hands frequently and avoid touching their face. These actions can help reduce the community spread of COVID-19.
Ensure your child(ren) wears a well-fitting, NMPED approved, face mask. The NMPED and U.S. Centers for Disease Control, both recommend a mask with multiple layers that fits closely to the face covering the nose and mouth. KN95, KF94 and N95 masks all come highly recommended by health officials. However, a well fitted cloth mask with multiple layers is also suitable. Neck gaiters and masks with exhalation valves are not permitted.
What to Expect As COVID-19 Cases Rise
As positive cases of COVID-19 begin to rise again in our community, we wanted to share some important information with you about what you might expect to see from Rio Rancho Public Schools.
First, we want you to know that our goal is to keep our schools COVID safe and keep them open so students may experience an in-person learning environment. However, you may see some temporary changes or adjustments in our district as we modify safety precautions and services to adapt to the changing environment created by positive cases. Some of the changes you might see or experience over the next few weeks or months include:
Enhanced Safety Protocols: As required by the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED), Rio Rancho Public Schools has created an Enhanced COVID Safe Practices Plan. Our Rapid Response Team continues to track positive cases, and should any of our schools reach 3% or 5% or more of its students on campus while infectious (within a 14 day period), we will implement enhanced protocols. Some of those protocols may include: Student screening at building entrances, universal masking outdoors, one-way cafeteria seating, closing campuses to all visitors, masks for event spectators at outdoor events, suspension of certain extracurricular activities, suspension of assemblies or group meetings, drinking fountains closed, etc.
School Bus Delays: Should we see a rise in positive cases among staff working in our Transportation Department, your child may experience school bus delays. This would take place as we would be forced to combine routes or drivers take on additional routes. Though we will be sure to have all qualified staff driving buses, we cannot ensure we would have enough drivers to fill all routes or maintain on-time arrivals or departures for students. We do not want to cancel routes, but should the shortage of drivers due to COVID become too great, it may become necessary under certain circumstances.
A Temporary Switch to Remote Learning: Should staff shortage become an issue, we may be forced to temporarily switch select classrooms or schools to remote learning. This would allow us to more efficiently utilize the staff available to teach our classes, while also keeping students safe. This is not an option we would like to pursue, but it certainly is possible if we see employee cases rise.
Changes to Close Contact Definitions and Quarantine Requirements: As with all public schools in our state, Rio Rancho Public Schools adheres to all requirements for COVID-19 safety from the NMPED. Should the NMPED modify close contact definitions or quarantine requirements, we would be required to adhere to those changes. This could impact the length of a quarantine, the Test to Stay program, who would be required to quarantine, or other items contained in the NMPED toolkit. We do expect that the NMPED will release an updated toolkit soon and will be sure to share that with you as soon as it becomes available.
Though we hope we can continue the school year without interruption, we want you to be aware of these possible changes. If we can reduce the case counts in our community and work together to adhere to COVID-19 safety measures, we feel we can certainly avoid any of the temporary changes listed above.