Protesters hold first of weekly rallies against APS in-person learning plan

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Some Albuquerque Public Schools faculty and families are sounding off against the district’s plan for holding in-person learning. On Saturday afternoon, at least two dozen cars showed up to what are going to be weekly car rallies. The youth advocacy group, Fight For Our Lives, is organizing the demonstrations.

“We are here today to demand that APS thoroughly thinks through their re-opening plan. Their initial reopening plan that was released to the public was incredibly unsafe and didn’t seem to take into consideration all of the concerns surrounding COVID that many families as well as teachers have,” Zoey Craft, lead protest organizer and co-founder of Fight For Our Lives, said.

They are demanding APS rule out any in-person learning unless certain safety demands are made. The demands include regular, ongoing COVID-19 testing and daily temperature checks for students and staff.

“I mean, I want to go back to work but, not in these conditions,” Pamela, a district bus driver, said. “Looking at the science, mandatory testing has to happen. And we don’t have that. Nobody’s testing any staff or students before they go to school and it’s ridiculous.”

The protesters are also asking that district staff not have to dip into accrued sick time leave if they have to stay home because of a COVID outbreak related to the schools. Lastly, Fight For Our Lives wants money from APS’s police department to go into resources to help families in the pandemic. If nothing regarding safety changes, protesters say some tough decisions are ahead.

“As a teacher, if I don’t want to go back in person, if that does happen, I run the risk of losing my job at my school and the daughters run the risk of losing their transfers at their schools. So, they’re making families make some very difficult decisions right now,” Alicia Noedel, an APS parent and teacher, said.

Protesters drove their cars from the APS administration building to Louisiana and Central. Despite one person upset with the protest and temporarily blocking the line of cars from leaving the administration building’s lot, the protesters completed their route. They plan to do these car rallies every Saturday until their demands are met.

“As a teacher, I understand more than anyone how important it is for our students to be in schools. It’s just not safe. I don’t feel comfortable risking my student’s health, my health, and my children’s health,” Noedel said.

Fight For Our Lives also has a petition for changes to the APS plan. In response to the protests, APS sent this statement:

“APS and all 89 public school districts in New Mexico are required to follow all policies and guidelines set by the DOH and PED. All guidelines are subject to change based on the status of the virus. Safety remains our top priority. We encourage everyone to wear a facial mask, wash their hands frequently, and practice social distancing so students can return to the classroom where they belong.”

New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

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