National Guard Sent to New Mexico Schools

Governor Lujan Grisham addresses staffing shortages associated with the the Omicron surge by sending state workers and the National Guard.


New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, center, announcing deployment of National Guard Troops in New Mexican schools (AP Photo/Morgan Lee)

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced last Wednesday that the New Mexico National Guard would be sending some of its members into schools and daycare centers to help ease teacher and staffing shortages that have risen due to the prevalence of the Omicron variant state-wide. She subsequently announced that state employees would also be helping staff schools, including herself.
This comes after many school systems in the state, including some in Santa Fe, shifted to remote learning amid both rising cases and hesitancy among school workers and teachers concerning their return in person. The Governor said that the move came out of the need for students to return to in-person learning and that the National Guard will supply schools with substitute teachers to help for the time being, until the Omicron surge subsides. The guardsmen will either be in uniform or a civilian outfit, which will be decided by the school’s administrators. Schools in Hobbs, New Mexico are among the first to receive National Guard members. This move has been praised by some school districts across the state, who have applauded it as a unique way to help boost in-person learning, and to help ease the heightened burden of immense staffing shortages seen in the past few weeks. As for the move to have state employees help schools with staffing shortages, the Governor says that the idea was born out of a similar desperate need for staffing aid.
The move made New Mexico the first state to activate their National Guard in this manner, though it should be noted that the state has long suffered from teacher and substitute teacher shortages, long before the pandemic began, meaning that the pandemic only exacerbated the struggles already affecting schools statewide.