Food service workers at risk in school meal programs

Since schools in New Mexico closed due to COVID-19 in March, food service workers across the state have continued serving meals to students in need, and their families. While the food helps feed hungry students, particularly those who no longer have access to free or reduced meal programs at schools, food service workers in these programs may be at greater risk of catching the virus. Two meal distribution sites within Gadsden Independent School District based in Chaparral, NM closed in May due to possible COVID-19 exposure. There were 236 cases of the virus reported as of June 1 in Chaparral, between Otero and Doña Ana Counties, according to the New Mexico Department of Health. Two kitchens at North Valley and Vado Elementary Schools, where potentially infected employees had been working as of May 19, were closed and 20 employees within the GISD student nutrition program were placed in quarantine due to self-reporting possible exposure.

Criminalizing disability: Special-needs kids who don’t get help in school are winding up in jail

It was right after the fifth-period bell last October that Sebastian Montano lay face down in the grass outside Alamogordo High School, screaming for his mother, as two police officers pinned him to the ground and thrust a Taser in his back. Moments earlier, a staff member had called police after learning that the 16-year-old, a special needs student who’d recently dropped out, was now trespassing on school grounds. A shy teenager with light brown hair and big green eyes, Sebastian was well known to staff and students at Alamogordo High. He had a long and messy school history, including 16 documented run-ins with school police officers — all in relation to behaviors associated with his disabilities: autism spectrum disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, PTSD, epilepsy, and ADHD. But he was also a boy who showed great promise.