ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As metro-area students prepare for an in-person school year, the city and Bernalillo County’s community centers are getting ready to welcome back before- and after-school programs. Kids are already back for summer programs but as more return in the fall, some COVID-safe precautions will stay in place.
Bernalillo County’s community centers are keeping kids busy for the summer. However, in just over a month, they’re finally bringing back after-school programs.
“We are prepping for the new school year and we’ll be providing our traditional after-school programming,” said Chamar Garrison, events coordinator for the Bernalillo County Parks, Recreation and Open Space Department. “That will all happen on the first day of APS school which is August 11th.”
For much of the past year, Bernalillo County took a step back from hosting programs at their seven community centers. Instead, many employees shifted to helping get New Mexicans vaccinated.
“We were at the vaccine sites, helping set up, tear down,” said Garrison. “We were there to help New Mexico get through this but now with the kiddos coming back, we’re getting our game on.”
The after-school programs will still take public health precautions like masks for participants and staff. It’s the same for the City of Albuquerque’s upcoming fall programs at their community centers.
“As with everything, it hasn’t been this huge rush. I think with kids not being able to be vaccinated, parents are still being a little cautious,” said Cristin Chavez-Smith, Community Services Division manager for CABQ’s Family and Community Services. “Still social distancing, maybe a slightly lower number of kids in our facilities, disinfecting as always.”
The city plans to bring before- and after-school programs to their 22 community centers and local elementary schools. While they’ve operated over the past year to a limit, they’re ready to get more kids back in the buildings.
“I saw one quote that was, ‘COVID policies are written in pencil,’ so we can update them as needed,” said Chavez-Smith, who says plenty of the traditional activities will return for the kids. “It might be arts and crafts, or sports. We do homework help and every kid gets a hot meal at our community centers after school.”
As many New Mexico businesses and facilities struggle to hire, both county and city community centers say much of their summer staffing will stay on for the fall, so they’re prepared for the kids. Online registration for school programs with the city will begin July 29, while the county centers will vary, with those dates updated online in the coming weeks.
Children in kindergarten through early teens, depending on if it’s a city or county center, are eligible for the after-school programs, but space is limited. Some do have costs associated, with payment plans available.