ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – With the rise of COVID-19 cases, the Albuquerque Public School Board voted Wednesday night to extend remote learning into the second semester. Students will remain online at least until Jan. 19, 2021.
The APS administration presented the Board of Education with plans to return to some in-person learning starting with the youngest students. Plans depend on multiple factors including adherence to gating criteria, safety and transportation concerns, access to PPE, facility readiness, and guidance from the New Mexico Public Education Department on next steps for middle and high school students.
APS reports that the 2020-2021 school year started with remote learning which was then extended through the first semester with the hope of having at least some students start the second semester in a hybrid learning model. However, the pandemic has since worsened, forcing the Board to push the targeted hybrid plan back at least a few more weeks and to include fewer students.
“We don’t know if new health protocols ordered by the governor will help curb the spread of the virus,” said APS Board President Dr. David Peercy in a news release. “We’ve seen that every time there’s a national holiday, a chance for people to gather, they continue to do so. We expect some of our staff, students, and families to travel during winter break, and they will need 14 days to quarantine when they return, so a January 5th target date for a hybrid learning wasn’t realistic.”
This week, New Mexico Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart reported 2,260 coronavirus cases in New Mexico schools since September with a positivity rate of 11.86% from surveillance testing of staff and school districts in the hybrid model. Last week, APS recorded 127 COVID-19 cases in the school community.
“If the spread slows and we meet state criteria for opening more classrooms, we can start with small groups at elementary schools. We would proceed with a focus on equity,” said Interim Superintendent Scott Elder in the same news release. “Students who are struggling, those who would benefit most from in-person instruction would be first on the list, and we would expand the hybrid model from there.”
According to the same news release, so far during the pandemic, only students with special needs have received in-person instruction. APS will continue to provide updates as the situation evolves.