The governor of New Mexico offered to teach as a substitute teacher amid staffing shortages facing schools in the United States due to the increase in cases of the omicron variant of covid-19.
Michelle Lujan Grisham, originally a law school Democrat, began her volunteer service Wednesday by taking over a public school kindergarten class Wednesday.
“It was maybe one of the best days of my career,” Lujan Grisham said in a virtual press conference after finishing his class.
The action is part of the “Supporting Teachers and Families” initiative launched by Lujan Grisham last week to address the lack of staff in schools and day care in New Mexico, amid the resurgence of the pandemic.
“Meeting these kids shows you how crucial these relationships (between teachers and students) are,” Lujan Grisham said Wednesday.
With the arrival of the omicron variant, the United States is facing a spike in cases that is impacting the country’s workforce. Almost 5 million positives were confirmed in the last seven days according to health authorities, with New Mexico being one of the states with the highest number of new infections proportionally.
Nearly half of the state’s school districts have been forced to return to virtual instruction in recent weeks, with teachers and academic staff forced to self-isolate once infected or in contact with a COVID-positive person.
Lujan Grisham seeks to “encourage” those who meet the requirements to enroll in the program to be certified as substitute teachers “keeping New Mexico’s schools open safely.”
Candidates need to be of legal age and have a college degree, in addition to undergoing a criminal background check.
With widespread access to vaccines, American society is divided on whether or not to keep schools open with the resurgence of the pandemic, as well as on vaccinations and taking protective measures against the virus.