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New Mexico education department threatens small-town school board over mask mandate rejection

The Floyd school board has until August 3 to reverse its decision not to enforce a mask mandate in its public schools

Updated: August 3, 2021 - 4:20pm

New Mexico Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is vowing to remove the board of a small, rural school for acting in opposition to statewide health mandates and opting against mask requirements in classrooms for the upcoming school year.

In late July, the board of Floyd Municipal Schools votes against mandating masks ahead of the forthcoming return to school, leaving the decision up to students and their parents.

The board additionally decided to allow social distancing rules to be up to the discretion of individual teachers, and moved to end temperature checks for students and staff.

"Every school I've talked to supports me," said Leon Nall, a member of the Floyd school board.

Floyd is a tiny rural town of just about 100 people located in the eastern part of the state.

The city school system, however, educates about 225 students in kindergarten through grade 12. 

On July 27, one day after the school board made its decision, the state Public Education Department sent the Floyd school board a letter that read, "As you are aware, the actions above are inconsistent with the requirements put forward by the Public Education Department, in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and/or guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics, to protect the health and safety of staff and students, and to ensure continued access to in-person learning that is not disrupted by the spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

"By noon on Tuesday, August 3, 2021, the board must take official action at a public meeting to rescind the actions listed above and/or to adopt a course of action that conforms to the published health and safety requirements," the letter continues. 

If the board fails to take "official action," the education department it threatening "adverse licensure actions." 

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