APS welcomes students back for in-person learning

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Thousands of Albuquerque Public Schools students are returning to in-person learning Monday.

"It’s a new day tomorrow, and learning in the pandemic is going to be something different that none of us have ever experienced, but we feel ready,” said Monica Armenta, executive director of APS Communications.

All APS students will have the option to return to the classroom, but they should expect to see some new changes in place.

Two-ply cloth masks or surgical masks will be required for all students, teachers, and staff. Bandanas and neck gaiters will not be allowed. Students are also encouraged to bring a resealable water bottle because water fountains will not be operational.

Students should also consider dressing in layers because windows and doors will be open to improve ventilation throughout schools.

Lastly, parents should know their child’s transportation needs. APS said the bus situation will likely be complicated as they’re just getting started. If possible, parents should try to drive their child to school.

Some parents expressed concerns about what their child’s new in-person learning environment will look like. KOB 4 took those concerns to APS spokesperson Monica Armenta.

“Well learning should always be fun, and after a year of being at home, for students that decide to come in-person, it’s very likely they made that decision because they miss their friends, because they miss seeing their teacher, because they miss the routine that maybe is different at home,” she said.

Teachers will use Chromebooks to simultaneously instruct students in the classroom and students who are at home. However, there will still be some activities.

"Recess and PE are going to look different at every school depending on what sort of accommodations we have, what kind of space,” Armenta said.

This first week will be a grace period for APS families to decide whether to commit to in-person or remote learning.

Students like Kyle Rehbein, a 7th grader, are feeling excited about returning.

"His middle school had emailed us, pretty much right after that and let us know we’re definitely going to work toward this. We’re going to make sure we’re following all the safety protocols and do what’s best for the students. And I think we’re very comfortable the way his school has handled it," said Jaime Rehbein, Kyle’s mother.

Jaime said she’s hoping in-person learning will help her son’s grades, however she’s still feeling a little apprehension.

"Worry and nervousness about kids all being together again. And you know, we’re still in a pandemic. It’s still there, but I definitely think at this point my feelings are, the social aspect of what they’ve been missing is up there with my priority list," she said.

Armenta said students shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to a trusted adult for help navigating their new environment.

"If my kid was returning to school tomorrow, I would pull them aside and tell them, it’s going to feel a little different. It’s going to take a few days, maybe a week, to feel like you’re back where you need to be," she said. "But, at any point, if you need anything—from needing to know what bathroom is open, to how to deal with a student next to you who doesn’t want to wear a mask—you need to find an adult and share that, and we’ll problem solve together."

Some schools are expecting physical attendance to be close to 100% while others are expecting to be around 25% full.

"It will be different, there’s no doubt. Everyone should understand this is not coming back to the first day of regular school. This is the first day of pandemic learning and everything we’re doing is designed around that,” Armenta said.

To view more helpful APS back-to-school tips, click here.