Los Alamos students head back to class as officials monitor Cerro Pelado Fire

[anvplayer video=”5109399″ station=”998122″]

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. — The threat from the Cerro Pelado Fire is fading as containment grows and things are getting back to normal in Los Alamos. This Monday, students went back to school. 

“It makes a difference to have good communication and good partnerships with those you’re working with. And so that’s been excellent,” said Jennifer Guy, Los Alamos School District assistant superintendent.  

Guy says communication between fire officials and the district has been key in planning what to do. The district decided to keep students home for a week as the community of Los Alamos waited to see how the Cerro Pelado Fire behaved. 

Fire officials report that Cerro Pelado Fire is now 62% contained. As residents celebrate this news, Guy says she knows it’s been tough on the youngest community members. 

“I think that for every one of the most traumatic things, was when we announced we were closed for a week is everybody went right to March 2020, when we had to close for COVID,” Guy said. “And we weren’t able to bring kids back. And so, especially for our high school seniors, but everybody just hated that idea of not being able to finish school in person. And so you could tell there was a big sense of relief this morning to be back at schools and back on campus.”

District employees were also relieved it was only a week. 

“Oh yeah, I feel safe now,” said Nicholas Gallegos, resident and district employee. “I mean, I work at the schools, and they put us off for one week. I guaranteed the boss I said, ‘two weeks, two weeks because of the circumstances or whatever.’ She said, ‘no, just one week,’ and I was like, ‘OK cool.'”

The school district said they’ve taken steps to help students through this tense time. 

“We have made sure that our counselors – and we’ve got extra counselors on hand – and our school counselors and our clinical counselors are available because I think the kids are also picking up on a lot of that anxiety,” said Guy. 

The district also says it doesn’t anticipate having to send students home again. But if they need to, they say fire officials will give them at least 24 hours’ notice.