ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As COVID cases surge, many students are getting ready to return to the classroom Tuesday. Meanwhile, the state’s largest school district is doubling down on its safety plan, including what it would take to cancel extra-curricular activities again and go back to remote learning. On Monday, Albuquerque Public Schools released its plan for enhanced COVID-safe practices, outlining steps schools should take, depending on how many staff and students test positive, with classroom or school closures possible.

“I think we all have COVID fatigue and it has been a big sacrifice for a lot of people to proctor education from home,” said Laura Marrich, a parent to two kids in APS charter schools. “I think we’ve all been there, we’re not anxious to go back there but if school determines that’s the best course forward, then we’re on board for whatever.”

Under the protocol, if 3% of the school’s total population is infectious within the last 14 days, enhanced safety requirements will be strongly encouraged. If a school reached 5% or more, it will be required to implement the enhanced COVID safety plan, which would include outdoor learning and even requiring masks outdoors, weather permitting. Spectators would not be allowed at school events and extra-curriculars could be canceled altogether. A school would then move to virtual learning for 14 days if things don’t improve.

“It’s just the new reality. You have to be prepared for decisions that affect the entire community,” said Marrich, who added that while the thought of returning to virtual learning can be hard, she trusts the judgment of the schools and district. “I’m impressed that the schools continue to evolve and get more resources and respond to the COVID epidemic in new ways.”

The district says the enhanced restrictions may be lifted if, after 2-3 weeks, positive cases drop below 3%. APS says they will continue to consult with the New Mexico Department of Health, Public Education Department, and UNM Hospital when it comes to determining new strategies to mitigate the spread of COVID.