LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - As of Monday morning, three members of New Mexico's National Guard have arrived in the southern part of the state to train as substitute teachers, according to the agency.
Two of them are training in Las Cruces Public Schools, a spokesman told ABC-7. One is working to become a substitute in the Gadsden Independent School District. He said more could arrive in the coming weeks.
"With this variant and this next wave of positives, staffing shortages are critical," Brig. Gen. Miguel Aguilar told ABC-7. "What we're trying to do is help administrators have the personnel they need to stay with in-person learning if it's the right decision to make."
As of Monday afternoon, a total of 80 guard members had been deployed across New Mexico, a spokesman said.
In Las Cruces Public Schools, the guard members will be reporting in uniform, a spokeswoman for the district confirmed. They could begin substituting as soon as Friday.
"There might be a perception that our soldiers are drill sergeants, and they're not," said Kelly Jameson, a spokeswoman for the district. "They're willing volunteers who stepped up to serve in a teaching capacity because they want to."
The Republican Party of New Mexico was highly critical of the governor's decision to deploy the military to classrooms.
"This is an act of desperation and poor government leadership," wrote Kim Skaggs, executive director, in a statement. "New Mexico’s National Guard shouldn’t be put into this position. It’s unfair to them and it’s unfair to our students.”