APS school board locks in final details for in-person reentry plan

[anvplayer video=”5014751″ station=”998127″]

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The APS Board of Education nailed down the final details for the district’s re-entry plan during a virtual meeting Wednesday.

Hundreds of Albuquerque families are anxiously waiting to send their children back to the classroom, however some concerns remain.

Some APS teachers who are feeling apprehensive about transitioning back to in-person learning asked if they will be required to return April 5 if they haven’t been fully vaccinated yet.

"Possibly wait another week or two to go back into work, that’d be great,” said Jonathan Martinez, an APS teacher.

Just hours before the board meeting, the Albuquerque Teachers Federation and the school district reached an agreement. All teachers must return. Even those with an official exemption have to come back if they’ve had at least one vaccine dose.

Teachers will soon be tasked with instructing their students in-person and online.

The agreement notes that students choosing to stay at home will have three hours each day of synchronous learning, which means their teacher will be live online with them. District leaders said this will free up more time for teachers to focus on their in-person students, however even those students will be required to spend a fair amount of time on their laptops.

The first week of the return will be a designated grace period. That will give families the option to change their mind about whether they want to send their children in person. After that week, the district will need a final answer from families. Students will be required to attend class every day for the whole day if they opt for in-person learning.

Schools are currently surveying families on the topic right now.

"I think we will have very few full classrooms,” said APS Superintendent Scott Elder.

One board member estimated that about half the students will return.

Other concerns that were brought up during the board meeting include social distancing, the shortage of bus drivers, custodian vacancies, and cold temperatures caused by open classroom windows.

Superintendent Elder said he’s already seen success in the small in-person groups at elementary schools.

"The excitement was palpable. Kids were excited, and I was talking to one teacher and she said, ‘This is so great. I am so happy,’” he said.