Updated: August 31, 2020 10:23 PM
Created: August 31, 2020 10:17 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Many New Mexico school districts have opted to stay completely online for the fall semester, but as of right now, Rio Rancho Public Schools is still planning on moving forward with a hybrid model that will begin after Labor Day.
The hybrid learning model will begin with elementary school-aged kids, but there are still many questions and potential changes as that day gets closer.
Many school districts are getting the all clear from top state officials. Last week, PED Secretary Ryan Stewart announced they would be using a testing positivity map to implement in-person hybrid learning. If a county is green, it means it's good to go.
“We have the plans in place to start bringing our students back and be ready to respond,” Secretary Stewart said.
But some districts, including Albuquerque Public Schools, are still choosing to stay virtual. It’s a decision that is weighing on other metro schools like Rio Rancho.
“We decided it would be really important to hear from our membership about their feelings about being in school after Labor Day and that’s why we did the survey, because we were hearing so many concerns,” said Billie Helean, president of the Rio Rancho School Employees Union.
Helean said after the APS decision, the RRSEU surveyed the entire collective bargaining unit, which was around 1,800 people. The results showed 65 percent of those people preferred staying virtual until past Labor Day.
“There were a variety of reasons. Safety is the primary one,” said Helean. “We want to make sure were keeping all the staff safe and the kids safe, and by extension their families. But in addition to those concerns, there were also concerns about stability for students.”
As of now, RRPS school officials said the plan is still on to bring back hybrid learning after Labor Day. Some parents and teachers hope it stays that way. A petition was created for that reason and has around 1,600 signatures so far.
“I just thought this might be a good way to get as many voices together as possible and just have it be in one stop to hand it over to the school board and say look ‘These are our concerns and this is what we want you to hear,’" said Alicia Hinrichs, a Rio Rancho parent.
Hinrichs said online learning is great for the parents and teachers who have already opted for that, but it’s not for everyone.
“For my family, in particular we need, I have two kids that are on the autism spectrum that are not capable of learning through the virtual model,” said Hinrichs. “It’s not going well at all.”
Hybrid learning is expected to start in just about a week, but before that happens, Rio Rancho is sending out another survey Tuesday asking about the comfort level parents and staff have sending kids back.
Rio Rancho Public Schools would like to remind you about the parent/guardian/staff poll that will be sent to your email address tomorrow from Research & Polling, an independent polling agency. The short poll will ask you about your comfort level and feelings of safety around entering into a hybrid model of learning. Your response is vital to Rio Rancho Public Schools. We want to hear from you. Please keep an eye on your email box tomorrow (Sept. 1) for this important poll from Research & Polling.
The deadline for responding to the survey is Thursday, September 3, at noon. This will allow time for Research and Polling to tally the results in time for the School Board’s review and consideration on Friday, September 4. Your responses will be used to help us determine the direction of our school reentry plans.
Thank you for your continued partnership and assistance with this important poll.”
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