APS administration, students hope to move toward ‘normal’ school year

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – For high school seniors, half of their high school experience took a backseat to the pandemic. But, this school year, students and administrators at Albuquerque Public Schools are hoping to move beyond COVID.

“I had my first year of freshman year and then after that, the pandemic hit,” said Neveah Lucero, a College and Career High School student.

It’s senior year for those who were freshmen when COVID took over the world.

“The school dances, looking at these movies and stuff like this. I’m like, I don’t really get to experience the school dances due to the pandemic,” said Lucero. 

But no matter their grade level, students say this year they’re hoping for a little more normalcy.

“We’ve had a tendency to be a little tunnel-visioned on COVID,” said Dr. Cheryl Brubaker, APS senior director for Nursing. “We’re getting back to trying to address everything, not just COVID.”

Some say that people have to “live with the virus” over and over, and nurses at Albuquerque Public Schools say they are keeping that in mind.

“We still have COVID we still have to address it, but it’s not the only thing,” said Brubaker. 

But living with the virus doesn’t come without problems. Children who catch COVID will have to stay home.

“If a child has symptoms, we recommend they stay home. And if they’re at school, and they develop symptoms, we send them home, it may or may not be COVID,” Brubaker said. “If they are positive, we want them to self-isolate at home for five days, and then they can come back, and for the next five days wear a mask.”

Since the start of the pandemic, the number of homeschooled students has exploded. So for parents worried that classrooms are not safe from COVID, nurses say they’ve got it under control.

“When it comes to disease management, it’s one of the safest places. Our cases tend to be at or a little bit lower than the surrounding community’s number of cases. So we think we do a good job of keeping that under control,” said Brubaker. 

“I believe next year is going to be our kind of first normal year,” said Andy Doan, Albuquerque High School student.