ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque Public Schools has published its new reentry plan as students prepare for the 2020-21 school year beginning in August. The plan outlines dozens of details for what will happen when students begin learning around each other, including what happens when a school sees a COVID-19 case and how students should expect to learn from their teachers.
APS says before students head back to the classroom, the district will launch an all-online school for the first month of instruction. The virtual school year will begin for all grades on August 12. Unlike the Continuous Learn Plan that ended the 2019-20 school year, APS says it’s expecting for teachers to present new material.
“Last (school) year, we weren’t able to add new content, last year we really didn’t grade, this year we will,” APS Interim Superintendent Scott Elder said. “We learned a lot in that few weeks and we will continue to improve with this model as we move forward.”
While distance or virtual learning with begin on August 12, APS says it expects students to return to the classroom for in-person learning on September 8, when the district will launch its hybrid model. The hybrid model will split each school’s student body in half.
“Making sure there students and families understand the expectations of work, while they are online, need to be addressed,” Elder said, in part, on the choice to wait until September to bring kids back to class. “That’s going to take some time, and what has happened is we’ve created more time for those process.”
Under the hybrid learning model, two groups of students will rotate with on and off weeks at school. Students with last names beginning with the letter A through L will go to classroom for one week, while students with last names starting with M through Z will go to class the following week.
APS is planning to keep school buildings closed every Monday for cleaning, meaning Mondays will always be a virtual learning day for all students under the hybrid plan. The district is planning on handing out more computers to families in need of a device.
“I think that the state really ought to take a look at accessibility,” Elder said. “I think the state needs to recognize that we have areas of our towns, east mountains, some places on the west side that don’t have internet accessibility.”
In trying to detect COVID infections at school, students won’t get temperatures taken at the door, but the district is recommending parents take students’ temperature each morning when they’re attending class at school buildings. Kids and staff will also be given a health questionnaire each morning before class begins.
Each school will also have a dedicated isolation or quarantine room if they’re thought to have COVID or any illness. If anyone does tests positive for the virus, APS says it will shut down the school building for at least three days: one to clean and a two-day waiting period after that.
During lunch hour, students are going to be asked to eat away from each other in the cafeteria, outside, and in other school areas when possible. At recess, students won’t be able to share toys or playground equipment.
In the classroom, letter grades will return for the new school year, however, APS says in a hybrid model, those grades will be based on what the district calls, “demonstrated mastery of essential standards.” The district is also telling teachers to practice more personalized pacing for students, as they’re predicting it will be harder for student “herding,” or learn at the same level. Elder says he’s specially considered about some students lacking reliable internet access at home.
“One thing that’s going to be important to us is we really don’t want to fail students because of a lack of accessibility,” Elder said. “So, we’ve got to really focus on essential standards, what are the really key elements that our students need to know, so that they can be successful moving forward.”
APS’ plan also calls for teachers to take attendance starting each day and for each class period in middle and high school. Those figures will be reported to PED, which says it will intervene in cases where kids aren’t showing up. The district is also trying to figure out how sports teams, band, and after-school clubs will be affected.