New Mexico National Guard members invited to volunteer in schools, day cares amid teacher shortage

The first-of-its-kind initiative called Supporting Teachers and Families (STAF) will allow state workers and National Guard members to volunteer in schools and child care centers or become licensed K-12 substitute teachers or child care workers amid coronavirus-related staffing shortages.

“Our schools are a critical source of stability for our kids – we know they learn better in the classroom and thrive among their peers,” Grisham said in a Wednesday statement. “Our kids, our teachers and our parents deserve as much stability as we can provide during this time of uncertainty, and the state stands ready to help keep kids in the classroom, parents able to go to work and teachers able to fully focus on the critical work they do every single day in educating the next generation.”

SCHOOLS RECRUIT PARENTS TO BE SUBSTITUTE TEACHERS AMID COVID STAFFING SHORTAGES

State employees and National Guard members interested in volunteering or earning their substitute licenses must undergo the same background check and online workshop requirements as other substitute teachers and child care workers.

Michelle Lujan Grisham, governor of New Mexico, listens during an interview at her office in Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S., on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019. 

Michelle Lujan Grisham, governor of New Mexico, listens during an interview at her office in Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S., on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019.  (Steven St John/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Volunteers will be able to use administrative leave in order to participate in the initiative amid statewide staffing shortages — an issue plaguing schools across the U.S. as the omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to surge.

COVID-DETECTING K9S DEPLOYED TO MASS SCHOOL DISTRICT

Since New Mexico students came back from winter break, about 60 school districts and charter schools have returned to remote learning due to staffing shortages. Additionally, 75 child care centers have partially or completely closed due to staffing shortages from the beginning of the year, according to a press release.

Grisham amended a public health order on Dec. 2, 2021, requiring all public school teachers in the state to get their booster shots by Jan. 17, or get tested weekly for the virus. 

Elementary students wearing masks in the classroom. (iStock)

Elementary students wearing masks in the classroom. (iStock)

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