ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It remains unclear if student-athletes in Albuquerque Public Schools will get to participate in non-contact sports associated with their middle and high schools this fall. While parents and students await a decision from the state’s largest school district, the entity responsible for organizing competition says it’s ready to move forward with competition among other school districts.
Responding to numerous questions from the sports community, the New Mexico Activities Association (NMAA) discussed the subject of competitive fall sports in a video published to YouTube Monday. NMAA Executive Director Sally Marquez was asked, “if a school district does decide on remote learning the entire semester, can students still participate in athletics and activities?”
Marquez responded, saying the decision is up to local school districts. “We have 165 high schools and 200 middle schools and there may be some school districts that are 100 percent remote learning and decide that they do not want to play sports or do any activities for that matter, but we are still going to move forward,” Marquez said.
Last week, Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education voted to continue all distance learning district-wide through the end of the first semester, ending in mid-December. However, the district hasn’t specifically outlined how the decision will affect non-contact league sports like volleyball, cross country and golf. The NMAA says it’s ready to move forward with a competition involving other schools, no matter what APS decides.
Addressing the issue, Marquez said, “For example, with Albuquerque Public Schools, if they decide that they’re not going to play sports, you know that’s 13 high schools, we have 165, so we’re going to service the other 152 in our sports and activities this school year.”
In early July, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced “no contact sports” would be permitted in the fall, including football and soccer specifically. At the time, the Governor said “other non-contact sports” were under review and will likely have delayed starts to seasons.
Since then, the state has agreed to allow participation in training related to non-contact sports under tightened rules outlined in the NMAA’s “Return to Play” guidelines. The NMAA says it’s received approval from the state to allow student-athletes to participate in summer conditioning now that remote learning has started. Competitions have yet to begin.
Meanwhile, APS has so far not allowed its student-athletes to participate in those summer conditioning programs. The APS Athletics Department confirmed with KRQE News 13 last Wednesday the department hoped to make a decision early in the week of August 23 if the district would allow student-athletes to compete in non-contact sports this fall.
Speaking to KRQE News 13 Monday, APS Board President Dr. David Peercy said he supports getting students back competing if they can prove to do it safely. “It’s not just athletics, you know there’s club things, there’s music things, there’s all kinds of interactions that are important for our kids,” Dr. Peercy said. “Whatever we can do to get closer to that– it’s not quite normal, but more normal than total isolation, yeah, we want to do that as soon as we can, but we have to be safe.”
Dr. Peercy also said he’s reached out to APS Athletic Director Kenny Barreras after hearing from several others who want to know how the district will proceed with non-contact sports. Peercy says he does not expect the Board of Education will be involved in the decision but hasn’t heard exactly when a decision might happen.
“I trust what Kenny is going to do and how he coordinates with certainly the administration as well as NMAA and also the Governor and PED, so it will have to be a coordinated effort,” Peercy said. “If we have to make a decision as a board, that’s one thing, but as far as I’m concerned, the administration can make that too, but if (the administration) prefer(s) to have us weigh-in, that’s fine.”
Barreras did not return KRQE News 13’s call or voicemail on Monday afternoon. A spokeswoman for APS’ Communication Office said Monday all fall sports are currently suspended, but those decisions are “subject to change” at any point.