August 5, 2021

August 5, 2021

Dear school community,

After careful consideration and discussions with our school leadership, Farmington students and staff will begin our school year wearing masks at all schools and work locations. As a next step , I will present a more comprehensive set of return to learn guidelines at the upcoming Board of Education meeting, which will be hosted on zoom, on Tuesday, August 10, 2021. The link to the meeting is available here. As a community, I welcome you to virtually attend the meeting.

As we begin the year, it is important to know that there will be opportunities during the school day when students and staff will not be required to wear masks. For example, mask-wearing during lunch or any time outside of the school such as recess or entering school grounds at the start or end of the day.

In order to better understand the impact of my decision, school staff will monitor the effects of mask-wearing and pay close attention to any kind of discipline issues related to wearing masks in our schools. Currently, our choices with regards to state mandates are limited, but I will be reviewing a plan which would allow middle and high school students and staff to remove the mask directive if we have proof of a vaccination.

Here is my ask of you. As the year begins, let's focus on working together and get this school year off to a great start. Let’s put the discussion of masks and vaccinations off to the side and focus all of our energies on teaching and learning. Let’s focus on building positive relationships with our students, closing learning gaps, and recovering the learning loss that our students may have returned with. Learning will take place in-person. We have our students back in the classroom and that is cause for celebration.

In sharing this information, I understand the different points of view offered by community members about mask mandates. I have heard your voices. In doing so, I will continue to share with NMPED and the NMDOH should grant Farmington more voice in making local decisions in decisions such as masking or not. Looking to the future, I am reviewing possible ways that students in grades 6-12 could be allowed to take off masks through some type of verification process. I ask for time to establish a protocol that I can share at a later time.

Let me close by sharing that Farmington has a long proud tradition of educational excellence. Help me get the year off to a great start. Let’s put differences aside until later. Use the start of the upcoming school year to build on that tradition of excellence by focusing on safe, supportive and collaborative culture, and effective teaching in every classroom.

I look forward to our school doors opening on August 12th.

Eugene Schmidt
Superintendent of Farmington Municipal Schools