SFPS Superintendent Hilario "Larry" Chavez is announcing that due to the spike in COVID cases in our community, and the impact it is having on staffing, schools will return to remote learning on Tuesday, January 18th for one week. In-person learning is set to resume on Monday, January 24th if conditions improve.

"We are seeing a significant spike in COVID cases in our community and in our schools. Student and staff health and safety are our greatest priorities and now is the time to take a pause to allow cases to settle. With this notice, we hope families will be able to plan appropriately. We are committed to open communication about the need to move to remote learning based on COVID and the changing conditions of the pandemic. We are doing so with as much notice as possible. I pledge to continue to do this and to update the community as quickly and frequently as possible.

"We are pausing because, with so many staff—teachers, bus drivers, custodial staff and nutrition workers—quarantining, we cannot currently ensure the safe operation of schools. Staffing shortages are placing extreme stress and additional duties on those who remain at work. We are currently unable to provide adequate coverage due to the increased number of absences. 

“Additionally, we cannot continue to meet the state’s contact tracing requirements given such large numbers of positive cases. This has been an additional requirement of districts during the pandemic. Also, our state provider cannot currently meet the demand for surveillance testing for staff and Test to Stay for students. Many parents have opted for their children to participate in Test to Stay, but the state’s provider has been unable to consistently provide testing.

"SFPS ended last week with 361 cases involving students and staff, the largest ever in one week for our district, with many still being investigated.  Cases could rise to near 600 this week and we have seen increased spread in classrooms. Clearly, the virus is showing itself to be extremely contagious in Santa Fe and across the state, with other districts similarly impacted.

“We are under a mandate to ensure that all staff are vaccinated or receive their booster by January 17th, or participate in testing. We cannot meet this testing mandate if the state cannot provide the tests, which places us in further jeopardy in our schools and school sites.

"I strongly urge parents to vaccinate and boost themselves and their children, limit large gatherings and properly wear masks for protection and for the safety of others. Testing will be available for staff and students next week at 430 La Madera.

“We will continue to update our protocols and make adjustments to ensure safety. We want students and staff in our facilities but must adjust to changing conditions. We need to come together as a community to end this pandemic," he said.

In addition, Superintendent Chavez announced that the SFPS COVID Dashboard will be adjusted to include cases not infectious while on campus. "Last week, due to a surge of cases, our dashboard numbers reported daily on cases in our schools that had been investigated, but it took several days to catch up, so numbers were not current. We want our community to be provided with a full picture of the COVID numbers we are facing," he said.