Hundreds of Rio Rancho students return to the classroom

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RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Hundreds of Rio Rancho students returned to the classroom Thursday. Rio Rancho Public Schools are back open at 100% capacity.

Some parents were nervous sending their children back as COVID-19 cases continue to increase.

"It’s scary right now with the virus going absolutely crazy," said Beth Clark, a parent.

"Just some anxiety about if there is going to be a case in school and how it’s going to impact them all," said Christina Vogel, another parent.

The district is following strict guidelines implemented by the state’s Public Education Department, requiring all students to wear a masks indoors unless they can prove they are fully vaccinated.

Some students and parents were not happy about the mask requirements.

"I want us not to wear masks so we can like act normal again," said Kaylynn Hoffman, a sixth grade student.

"I think a parent should be able to make that decision for their children," said Alicia Garcia, a parent.

Others said the mask requirement is necessary.

"I’m kind of used to the masks now," said Makaila Clark, a tenth grade student.

"I think the masks are a good idea, at least for now," said Angelica Garcia, a parent.

The Rio Rancho School Employees’ Union said parents are asking about the mask requirements, and they’re working on answer those questions, but they want to focus on returning to in-person learning.

"We are handling all of those as they come and we are really excited to welcome back to our 100% open schools," said Billie Helean, president of the union.

While Rio Rancho students are getting used to these requirements, UNM and CNM are both implementing vaccine requirements.