APS outlines COVID-19 precautions ahead of new school year

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ALBLUQUERQUE, N.M. – Students at Albuquerque Public Schools head back to school Wednesday. APS officials said their number one priority is to maintain in-person learning – therefore masks and social distancing are mandatory.

“We are still in the middle of a pandemic, so we have to adapt to those sorts of things to make sure we can keep in person learning, so you will still see x’s on benches in the cafeteria, water fountains now have touchless bottle fillers and about 60% of the classrooms now have filtration units installed,” said Dr. Gabriella Blakey, the chief operations officer at APS.

Every day, students and teachers will be asked if they are experiencing any COVID symptoms.

“Some of what we have learned about the virus over the course of the pandemic is that it’s more airborne than it is on surfaces, so although we’re keeping up with our high touch cleaning, the air quality is more important, which is why we have decided about the masks,” Blakey said.

The mask requirement is something some parents weren’t on board with.

"I am highly frustrated and upset that the school board has decided that my children should wear a mask all day long from the moment they get on the bus to the moment they get home, that is like 9 straight hours of wearing a mask,” said Sean Ardis, a parent.

But for some students — it’s better than the learning from home.

"I don’t mind it, it’s a little uncomfortable at times but if it means I get to go back to school than it’s worth it,” said Mackenzi Tooley, an APS student.

The school district said they are still trying to hire more drivers, but in the meantime, they are adapting bus schedules to transport as many students as possible.

“Transportation is still one of our utmost concerns, being able to bring back enough of our drivers we are short several drivers, mostly from our contractors,” Blakey said.

For more information about the COVID-19 protocols in place at APS, click here.