The board of a rural school district in New Mexico, which voted to continue rejecting the state’s COVID-19 policy guidelines for its schools in the upcoming fall semester, has been suspended by the state’s education department.
The NM PED today suspended the 5-member Floyd Municipal Schools board for twice voting to disregard COVID Safe Practices. Secretary Ryan Stewart also reinstated Superintendent Damon Terry.
— New Mexico PED (@NMPED) August 4, 2021
“The NM PED [Public Education Department] today suspended the 5-member Floyd Municipal Schools board for twice voting to disregard COVID Safe Practices,” the department said on Twitter.
It added that it was reinstating Superintendent Damon Terry, who the board voted to place on paid administrative leave pending further legal advice.
The school board of Floyd Municipal Schools voted unanimously last month to make mask wearing optional for students in the district. It also voted to let individual teachers to decide whether to enforce physical distancing, and to end temperature checks on school ground, contrary to the department’s school opening guidelines.
When forced to vote for a second time on Monday evening by the PED, all five board members reaffirmed they would not change their previous decision.
“I believe tonight is a victory for the state of New Mexico,” school board president Leon Nall said at the time. Board members where supported by about 100 members of the public, including local parents, standing in opposition to the decisions by policy makers based in Santa Fe.
Floyd has only about 100 residents and the K-12 school system itself serves some 220 students in the area, including those from outside the town.
The vote came after New Mexico Public Education Department sent a letter to Floyd’s school board, warning them that board members would be removed and the state would take over the district if it refuses to cooperate with the state’s health policies.
Earlier that day, the department released guidelines, which dropped mask requirements for vaccinated students in middle and high school, but continued to require face coverings in elementary schools.
Schools are scheduled to return to in-person learning on Aug. 9.
Meanwhile, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and state health officials are recommending that everyone, including those who are fully vaccinated, wear masks indoors, in line with updated federal guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Grisham has also signed an executive order requiring all state employees to either be fully vaccinated or otherwise submit to regular testing for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Under the order, state employees who are not fully vaccinated against the virus shall be required to show a negative test result at least once every two weeks, and have to wear a mask indoor, except while they eat or drink.
“There will be no quarter for this virus within state government offices. I will not tolerate any unnecessary risk within the workforce under my authority,” said Grisham, a Democrat. “And I strongly encourage other New Mexico government agencies and private sector employers to consider doing the same.”