LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- Starting next Monday, all public high school students in Las Cruces have the option to return to the classroom two days a week, if their families choose to do so.
That announcement at Tuesday's school board meeting followed protests hours earlier by those frustrated with remote learning who sought to have schools reopened.
"We are not compelling anyone to go into the building," said Las Cruces Public Schools Superintendent Karen Trujillo, who presented her plan to the board of education Tuesday night.
As part of the plan, middle and elementary school students must still remain at home, unless they are "not engaging, not attending (or) not submitting assignments." Younger students with internet connectivity issues may also head back to the classroom.
While board members were still discussing the plan as of 6:55 p.m., a district spokeswoman said the plan does not require board approval.
"This is the plan," she said.
Hours ahead of the Las Cruces Public Schools district's plan to reopen classrooms at a meeting on Tuesday afternoon, dozens of students and parents protested virtual learning and sought in-person instruction.
"I know we're trying hard and we're working hard, but I feel like it's our moral obligation to get back into the school buildings and be with these students," said Tanna Miller, a physical education teacher at Sonoma Elementary School. "We signed up to be teachers."
"I would love to see a normal hybrid model," said Tea Bloomfield, who attends Oñate High School. "The governor is allowing us to do that."
Earlier Tuesday, the district also announced a fifth educator had died of Covid-19. Elizabeth Placencio, 42, taught film and broadcast at Mesa Middle School since the school opened in 2010.
"She had an amazing impact on our students and the programs at Mesa," said her former principal.
After hours of discussion at a school board meeting earlier this month, the board of education voted to give Trujillo the responsibility to decide how and when to open classrooms. She then unveiled her plan at Tuesday's meeting, which you can watch in the video player below.