ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The state’s biggest school district is releasing its latest re-entry plan for hybrid learning, but it could still be a while before Albuquerque Public Schools students head back to the classroom.
The new plan would let some students return to campus two days a week, but Bernalillo County first has to be considered “low risk” for virus spread for at least 14 days under the state’s new red-to-green system.
“As long as Bernalillo County remains green for two weeks, we’ll start bringing back more elementary students for in-person learning. As infection rates decrease, we will welcome middle and high school students as well,” APS Interim Superintendent Scott Elder said in the district’s YouTube video about the new plan.
The district board of education said once that low-risk is established, APS can bring back more students every two weeks by grade level starting with preschool and kindergarten, followed by grades 1-3, then 4-5. Middle and high school students would go back after that, pending approval from the Public Education Department.
Families can opt to continue remote learning, but those who choose the hybrid option will be divided into two groups for in-person learning twice a week, and distance learning three days a week.
As for health precautions, masks and social distancing are required on campus; students will eat lunch in small groups in the cafeteria; physical education will be tailored for individual exercise, and no team sports or contact will be allowed.
The district said it will let families know when there’s a positive case reported and will work with the state to determine if a classroom or building needs to close when that happens.
If the county returns to being considered high risk, APS said it could decrease the number of students at schools or close campuses again. APS said this plan can always change based on updated health information.
“The district has had plans for every step of the way and we have to keep that up, even though the information and the conditions change daily,” APS Executive Director for Communications Monica Armenta said.
It could be a long time before this plan rolls out. Just last week, Mayor Tim Keller estimated it could take six months before Bernalillo County even gets from the red to the yellow zone. To be in the green, Bernalillo County must drastically reduce its test positivity rate to 5 percent. Right now, it’s nearly four times that rate.
On Wednesday, the district sent out a survey asking parents if their children would return for in-person instruction this spring, or if they feel safer remote learning. That survey is open for a week to help the district gauge how many teachers would be needed for in-person learning.
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