Education leaders have high hopes for new school year

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The incoming secretary of the state’s Public Education Department, Dr. Kurt Steinhaus, started his day at Highland High School.

Students filled the campus Wednesday – some were there for the first time in more than year.

"The first day of school is filled with a kind of energy that you don’t get any other time of the year, so the students have filled me with energy and I’m right with them," Steinhaus said. "I’m pumped up and ready to go."

Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Scott Elder also joined the early morning tour. Elder has a personal connection to Highland, as a former teacher and principal.

"I wanted to see it, you know, you want to see and feel the energy of the first day of school," Elder said. "This is what we do this for, this is fun."

Masks are mandatory, and classroom and cafeteria set-ups for even some of the city’s youngest students look quite different than before the pandemic.

"I have seen a dedicated set of principals and teachers that are making school, in person, a safe place," Steinhaus said. "And I’m really proud of them for that. It’s hard work but we all know that’s what we need."

School leaders have high hopes for this year, starting with keeping students in the classroom.

"We’ve got to keep our kids safe, and we’ve got to implement our school programs in a way that we don’t have to close the school out," Steinhaus said. "And that’s what we’re doing, and we’re very happy to see all the students wearing masks."