Correction Issued Below
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – With the re-entry plan for Albuquerque Public Schools still up in the air, it’s a waiting game to see when student-athletes can compete again. At Wednesday night’s district board meeting, one student-athlete made it clear why some of her classmates are anxious to get back to their sports.
“I collected quotes from APS students and found that 78% want to return to the classrooms. The responses included: I cannot attend college unless I get an athletic scholarship,” Cibola High School Student Body President Taylor Christiansen stated.
The New Mexico Public Education Department has said the New Mexico Activities Association activities can start two weeks after a school district moves into the hybrid model. The state would use that two-week period to make sure there hasn’t been a COVID outbreak on the campuses.
At a press conference Thursday, APS Interim Superintendent Scott Elder said that rule requiring hybrid to happen first should be revised. He’s also calling on people to even let the NMPED know that they see the value in letting children participate in NMAA sports and activities.
“I’m really curious if APS isn’t allowed to play, who exactly are they going to play against? We are 13 of the high schools and I know other large districts are in the same position as we are and we’re asking the same question,” Elder explained. “We are very clear and very strong that we think that needs to be revised that as we begin a re-entry, the students shouldn’t be penalized. They should be allowed to participate because it’s a voluntary option.”
“We felt like as a board that that was not an equitable thing to do for athletes,” APS Board President Dr. David Peercy added.
The NMAA said it’s in ongoing talks with the PED with the goal of getting all students back to playing their sports this year. The organization just released its updated spring sports calendar for the high schools earlier this week.
The governor’s office says sports can only happen safely if a district makes sure that they can safely get students back for in-person learning first. A spokesperson sent KRQE News 13 the following statement:
The state is optimistic that districts can safely resume some of in-person extra-curricular activities after and in conjunction with a safe expansion of in-person learning, should districts so choose, but the priority is and will always be safely expanding in-person learning opportunities for New Mexico students. Any additional activities, like sports, can only be safely conducted if a district has ensured that they can safely get more students back in classrooms.”
In an emailed statement, the NMPED echoed the statement from the governor’s office, adding that students can continue practicing in groups of five while remote learning.
Correction: In a previous version of this story, this story said the NMAA was the New Mexico Athletics Association, that is incorrect, it is the New Mexico Activities Association.