▶ Watch Video: National Guard filling in for teachers in New Mexico amid state’s COVID surge

New Mexico’s Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has called on the National Guard to fill in for teachers amid the state’s COVID surge. The governor herself has also been substituting for classes. 

“We did math. We learned about syllables. We did a watercolor art project,” Grisham said. 

At least 80 members of the National Guard have volunteered to be substitute teachers after regular teachers have been sidelined due to COVID.

New Mexico National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Susana Corona said she volunteered because of the need. 

“Neighbors helping neighbors, community helping the community for New Mexico,” Corona told CBS News’ Kris Van Cleave. 

 She’s teaching fourth grade in the small town of Estancia.  

“It’s actually surprised me how busy the teachers are, it’s just action-packed,” she said. 

Without Corona’s help, these students would be practicing reading remotely. She said that she wouldn’t have volunteered if she didn’t feel like this was a good use of the National Guard. 

Superintendent Cindy Sims said she is grateful for the National Guard because the COVID surge has not only left her without enough teachers—it’s been devastating for her entire community. 

“We’ve lost parents of students at our school… We’ve lost spouses of our staff. We’ve lost grandparents. And so, we had death come visiting because of COVID,” Sims said.  

New Mexico reported over 22,000 new cases since last weekend, forcing about 60 school districts and charter schools to fall back on virtual learning. 

The National Guard expects to have about 100 citizen soldiers in classrooms in the coming days.  All are vetted with background checks and go through the state’s substitute teacher training course.