May 22, 2022

The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and the Omicron variant

A new program in New Mexico is streamlining the process to allow state workers and National Guard members to work as substitute teachers and aides as staffing shortages caused by the Omicron variant continue — and that includes Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The governor said that the state has been “woefully short” on educators, so she and others are stepping in.

“States and governments have had to turn on a dime during the pandemic to stand up systems, to provide support to any of our critical, crucial, basic services. There aren’t any other options,” she said in a CNN interview.

She thinks she’ll be placed in an elementary school next week.

The governor said that those participating in the program must go through a background check and safety course beforehand.

“I’m feeling very good about this effort, and the goal is to keep schools open and to support educators, parents and students through the worst of Omicron,” she said.

So far, there are 50 National Guard members and 50 state employees taking part, and schools decide where they are placed in classrooms.

“The whole goal is certainly not to interrupt the qualified experienced work that is required in our public schools — but just to shore them up to stay open. And I hope maybe that it’ll stay as we develop a pipeline. The whole point here is to really support … hospitals, health care workers, child care workers and schools,” Grisham said.

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