New Mexico Governor Becoming Substitute Teacher To Address Staffing Shortage
Michelle Lujan Grisham, governor of New Mexico, speaks 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

New Mexico Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham registered to become a substitute teacher to address COVID-19 staffing shortages at schools in her state.

Grisham hopes to serve as a substitute in a Santa Fe area elementary school as early as this week.

The governor’s action joined 50 state employees as part of an initiative to support teachers that was announced last week in the state.

“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 press release.

“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,” she added.

Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Hilario “Larry” Chavez expressed his appreciation to Grisham.

“Santa Fe Public Schools greatly appreciates the STAF initiative by Governor Lujan Grisham, as this will be instrumental in helping us return and continue in-person learning by covering staff vacancies and reducing the stress on our remaining staff who have taken on additional duties,” Chavez said in the press release.

The initiative hopes to fill the gap as schools and child care centers deal with staffing shortages due to COVID-19.

Since winter break, around 60 school districts and charter schools shifted to remote learning. Since the beginning of the year, 75 child care centers have partially or completely closed due to staffing shortages, according to the press release.

In addition to personally registering to serve as a substitute teacher, Grisham has encouraged state employees and National Guard members to apply. The initiative also waves fees for substitute teacher applications until March.

“Over 900 substitute teachers are needed in school districts throughout the state. New Mexico leaders said Santa Fe Public Schools needs approximately 85 substitutes,” KOAT-7 TV reported.

The news comes as, “New Mexico’s health department reported 6,198 new COVID-19 cases and a seven-day positivity rate of 29 percent as the state as seen a surge in infections fueled by the highly contagious omicron variant,” The Hill reported.

Despite the governor’s emphasis on education, Grisham was criticized by many parents last April over her school mask mandate. One school district made headlines for unanimously rejecting the mandate, as The Daily Wire previously reported:

The school board of Floyd Municipal Schools in New Mexico voted unanimously Monday evening to reject Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s COVID-19 mandates for the next school year.

Grisham’s administration had previously threatened the Floyd school board that refusing to follow state requirements for schools would result in the termination of each board member. The Floyd board believes that the governor lacks the legal authority to make good on her threat.

“I believe this is a victory for the state of New Mexico,” board president Leon Nall said after the 5-0 vote, according to The Eastern New Mexico News.

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