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NMPED needs to dump COVID tests and quarantines

Discrimination against unvaccinated has teachers leaving

BY SARAH SMITH

NEW MEXICO FREEDOMS ALLIANCE, LAS CRUCES

On behalf of several hundred N.M. teachers and school personnel, I recently submitted a letter to Kurt Steinhaus, N.M.

Secretary of Education.

This letter focused on the current policies that require weekly COVID testing and close-contact quarantine for N.M. teachers and school personnel who have not received COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots. These policies are harmful, discriminatory and unlawful. They are leading to dedicated, experienced teachers and staff being harassed, threatened and even terminated from their employment.

Where there is risk, there must be choice. N.M. schools have recently refused to allow the use of saliva testing such that school personnel are now being forced to use only nasal swab testing. A review of the peer-reviewed scientific literature shows there are known risks to COVID-19 tests, including cerebrospinal fluid leak, sinus problems, nasal septum abscess, migraine headaches, and severe nasal bleeds that have required “medication, numerous nasal packings, and surgical and endovascular procedures and led to fetal risk, sepsis, and blood transfusions” (Koskinen et al., “Complications of COVID-19 Nasopharyngeal Swab Test.” JAMA Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery. 2021).

COVID-19 vaccines do not prevent the spread of the illness. The CDC acknowledged in July 2021 that fully vaccinated people can easily spread COVID-19 (CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report July 2021). This has become even more apparent with the recent Omicron variant. Thus, it is irrational and punitive to require only unvaccinated teachers and students to be tested and quarantined.

Additionally, it is unlawful to mandate medical devices that are not FDA-approved. All COVID- 19 tests, including both nasal swabs and saliva tests, are allowed through Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) only. According to FDA 21 U.S. Code § 360bbb–3 “Authorization for medical products for use in emergencies,” EUA medical products may not be mandated. This provision specifically requires the recipient be informed of the right to accept or refuse the medical product. Thus, the NM Public Education Department’s mandate for COVID-19 testing violates federal law.

Furthermore, teachers and school personnel, many of whom already have natural immunity, are being discriminated against, threatened and harassed because of their vaccination and testing status. NMPED’s policies are creating a hostile work environment, with teachers and school personnel receiving frequent written and verbal reprimands and threats. Many of these people are afraid to speak out for fear of repercussions.

Many teachers and school personnel have already left N.M. public schools as a result of these policies, and several have even been terminated from their employment, including a teacher in northwest New Mexico, a construction manager at Albuquerque Public Schools, and a school bus driver in northern New Mexico.

The damages from NMPED’s COVID-19 testing and quarantine policies are not isolated to one particular school or district. These damages are happening all over the state. There was already a shortage of teachers, and the mandates are further worsening the situation by driving many capable, dependable teachers out of the school system.

Inferior personnel are now being hired, and teachers are being asked to cover multiple classes.

The teacher shortage has even reached the point where state employees and the National Guard are being called on to serve as substitute teachers. There is much more to education than having someone there who is knowledgeable; the kids need continuity, connection, and relationships with their educators. The educators need to know the students so they can tailor the teaching and lessons to the kids’ strengths and weaknesses.

On behalf of hundreds of N.M. teachers and school personnel, I urged Steinhaus to immediately rescind the harmful, discriminatory COVID-19 testing and quarantine policies. All people have a fundamental right to choose whether or not to use medical devices and treatments, without coercion, threats or discrimination. It is time to put education first and remove the mandated COVID-19 testing and quarantine in New Mexico’s schools.

Sarah Smith, one of the leaders for both the New Mexico Freedoms Alliance and the National Coalition for Health Integrity, is a natural health-care practitioner and former NASA aerospace engineer.

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