According to the New Mexico Department of Health there is currently an increase in the number of cases of COVID-19. The COVID variant known as Delta has been found to comprise the majority of those individuals now testing positive. The Governor and the Acting Secretary of the Department of Health, have issued several new directives. The portion of the requirements that are relevant to our churches and schools are as follows.
While the use of masks, or cloth face coverings, has been recommended for sometime, effective on Friday, August 20, 2021 the public health order requires everyone aged 2 and older to wear such a covering while in any ‘indoor public space’. This order includes houses of worship and is the same for both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons.
In addition, other Covid Safe Practices such as hand sanitizing, and social distancing are also recommended. It is encouraging to note that the maximum occupancy for church attendance has not been adjusted lower as was the case with the color-coded re-opening plan last Spring.
With this health order, the classification of private schools has been modified. Last school year our schools were considered ‘businesses’ which provided for a less stringent set of requirements compared to those placed on public schools. However that has now changed and all schools, including private schools, are required to abide by the same requirements as public schools.
Effective on Friday, August 20, all students, staff and volunteers will be required to wear a face covering/mask while they are indoors. In addition, effective on Monday, August 23 all school workers (teachers, staff and volunteers) will be required to either be fully vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID-19 tests.
While we are not all pleased by these directives, we recognize that there is a wide range of reaction that will be felt by our members, students and employees. Some will likely be happy to participate while others may be concerned by the challenge to the exercise of individual ‘freedom of choice’. Conference Administration has reviewed the legal aspects of these matters and encourages our members, employees and students in New Mexico to comply with these requirements.
We must remember that the first line of defense is a strong immune system that is positively impacted by the health principles promoted by our church. We must also remember that the most important tool available to us in dealing with this challenge is a commitment by each of us to stay home if we are sick. We should not go to church or school if we are experiencing an illness that is consistent with the symptoms of COVID-19.
May God bless us all with His protection, His blessing of good health and with His peace which results from trusting Him to care for us and to be with us especially during these challenging times.
Texico Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Administration
Corrales, New Mexico
August 20, 2021