APS board asks Gov. Lujan Grisham to decouple school sports from hybrid learning

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education is coming out in support the decoupling of the New Mexico Activities Association (NMAA) athletic participation from the required implementation of the hybrid learning model.

"We support allowing local school districts to make such decisions during the spring 2021 school year," stated a letter from the APS board to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. "School districts across the state of New Mexico are responsible for providing the best educational opportunities for students and for responding to the COVID-19 health crisis."

The letter pointed out that the requirement for coupling sports and the hybrid model appears to be "based on the need to focus on education as a first priority and athletics being allowed only if student athletes are being successfully educated."

The school board agreed that the primary role of the student-athlete is to first be a student, but questioned "why does the student need to be in a hybrid model in order to be successfully educated?"

The letter states that a significant number of student-athletes are depressed and are not doing well academically now — but sports can be used as an incentive for success.

"The Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education is advocating that school boards across the state of New Mexico be allowed to make their own determination of whether or not local plans for increased in-person learning opportunities should allow for required participation in NMAA-sponsored activities. In particular, the APS plan for implementing small group in-person education should qualify for allowing our athletic programs to participate in NMAA-sponsored activities.

Please consider decoupling athletics participation from the hybrid model, and approving our targeted small group in-school education plan to include athletic participation."

Currently, APS is implementing a re-entry plan that allows small groups to return, mostly face-to-face, and primarily focusing on K-12 students that might be at-risk for concerns like special education needs, learning loss, mental health concerns and online access issues.

On Sunday, hundreds gathered at APS headquarters — where students, parents and coaches called on school leaders to allow sports to resume.

To read the full letter, click here.