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Superintendent's News

Posted: February 19, 2021

Bringing Some Students Back on Campus

A message from Supt. Elder

I like fishing. The last time I was out on the river, I caught a whopper of a fish that, in its panicked state, ended up between my legs, and I found myself thinking, “OK, now what?”

That’s how I initially felt Wednesday when the APS Board of Education voted to continue remote learning for the remainder of the school year and directed us to come up with ways to provide in-person learning for small groups of students in need of intervention.

The more I thought about it, the more I saw this as an opportunity to improve upon what we're already doing to help our students succeed. 

That’s not to say we haven’t done a good job. Just the opposite. Teaching and learning are flourishing in Albuquerque Public Schools despite our dire circumstances, and they continue to improve as students and staff grow more comfortable navigating the digital classroom. But there are still too many students who are struggling academically, socially, emotionally, technologically. And we owe it to them to step up our game. We can do this through collaboration, emulation, innovation – and true grit.

So, just hours after the board meeting wrapped, I met with my leadership team, and then with educational leaders, and we outlined a plan for bringing some students back on campus while also focusing on remote interventions, so that all students – no matter where they are learning – have a chance to succeed.

Key to this plan is flexibility. We are letting schools decide how best to serve their students. School leaders have been in touch with their communities and understand their desires and needs, their frustrations and fears. 

We have provided schools with parameters for in-person learning. It goes without saying that the health of students and staff is top priority, so all schools must meet safety guidelines, including mask wearing, social distancing, and group size.  

We also expect schools to maintain bell schedules that don't disrupt remote learning routines.

And while the timeline for implementing in-person small groups is somewhat flexible, we expect to see some students back on campuses across the district by early March.

Keep in mind that these plans are fluid and we will continue to look for ways to best serve students and families.

I am excited about what lies ahead. I have already heard some great ideas that I know will benefit students, and I can’t wait to see these plans in action. No matter the approach, our schools, our school leaders, our school staff, and our district staff are all fighting for our kids. And for that, I am grateful. Keep up the good work and keep thinking outside the box.