BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) – Some New Mexico students are back in the classroom on Tuesday. Belen Consolidated Schools started hybrid learning for elementary students. One group will be in the classroom on Mondays and Tuesdays, with the other group on Thursdays and Fridays. The rest of the time students will learn from home.
Everyone’s temperature is checked before they enter any buildings or school buses. Masks and social distancing are required and there is a lot of sanitizing.
“It’s nice to see, the kids are doing such a fabulous job, watching them come in, watching them all wearing their masks was just incredible,” said Belen Consolidated Schools Superintendent Diane Vallejos. There’s also plexiglass at students’ desks and cafeteria tables are all facing one direction with kids spaced out. Superintendent Vallejos also said the district was able to keep classrooms lower than the state’s required 50% occupancy to keep students spread out. She said the first day back is exciting but different than years past.
“When you look at a school that normally, you walk around kids come in, there’s usually hugs, there’s usually friends that see each other and embrace, that normalcy is gone,” she said. “Usually parents are able to walk their kids to class the first day and it’s a great tradition we have, and this year we had to not allow that to happen.”
Estancia Municipal Schools also welcomed elementary students back to campus. Christina Anaya, a parent of the district, said dropping her daughter off was exciting but nerve-racking.
“She was given an iPad to do the online and you could tell she was struggling. So she needed the in-person interaction, so I’m happy for her,” she said.
Other districts are keeping with remote learning despite getting the ‘ok’ from the state. Albuquerque Public Schools plans to stay remote until the end of the year. APS parents had mixed feelings on whether they wish they started hybrid learning today.
“Oh yeah, absolutely, I wish they were going to school. However, I don’t wish they were going to school wearing a mask because that would be too difficult, a setting all day,” Marlene Gonzales said. She said she’s ‘not impressed’ so far with how online learning is going.
“I am happy that they’re still remote. Albuquerque is a big city and the schools have lots of students. I think there’s still a risk with the coronavirus,” another APS parent who wanted to stay anonymous said.
“I would like to see the school open if they can do it safely and if they can provide the resources and do it safely…I understand there is no easy answer,” Jane Gamble, an APS parent, said.
Rio Rancho Public Schools is planning to bring elementary school students back for hybrid learning on September 14. A district spokesperson said teachers will return to campus this week to meet, prepare, and go over how they will talk to students and teach them the COVID-safe rules of the new school year.
Santa Fe Public Schools started remote learning on August 20 and plans to stay remote for the first nine weeks of school.