NM student-athletes protest rule limiting sports to hybrid only schools

Education

LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE) – Student-athletes who normally compete against each other, are now working together trying to fight for their seasons. Parents and students protested outside the Los Lunas District headquarters urging board members to let them return for hybrid learning.

Much like Albuquerque Public Schools, this week, Los Lunas Public Schools and Belen Consolidated Schools couldn’t come to a decision on bringing kids back to campus. Now, student-athletes from both schools are protesting together. “The school district has kind of shut us down. They told us that we were going to have a season and now odds are we’re probably not going to unless they change their vote and it’s really important for us to be out here because this is the kind of stuff that we live for,” said Nicholas Madrid, a senior at Los Lunas High School.

The New Mexico Athletics Association says starting Feb. 22, schools that choose to operate in a hybrid model will be allowed to resume NMAA sanctioned activities like games. Student-athletes in Valencia County from both Los Lunas and Belen were excited by the news but it was followed by disappointment. This week the Los Lunas School board voted to stay in the remote learning model.

The Los Lunas School Board originally was going to wait until its March 23 meeting to reconsider moving to hybrid. However, over the weekend a spokesperson for the district said there will be a special meeting on February 16 at 3 p.m.

The Belen School board did not make a decision on hybrid learning at its board meeting this week but they will discuss the move again much sooner on Feb. 9.

One Los Lunas School board member attended Friday’s protest siding with student-athletes. “For the ones who want to be I want to see them have the opportunity to be in person and play their sport because especially for these seniors, this is their last chance so I think it’s really important,” said Dave Vickers.

Student-athletes also said growing up in a small town, many of them have been playing together or competing since they were seven-years-old and were all looking forward to their senior year together.

KRQE News 13 asked the New Mexico Public Education Department and the governor’s office if they’d consider revising the hybrid rule. The governor’s office says sports can only happen safely if a district makes sure that they can safely get more students back in classrooms. In an emailed statement, NMPED echoed the statement from the governor’s office adding students can keep practicing in groups of five while learning remotely.

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