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Superintendent's News

Posted: April 5, 2021

Thanks to All! Now, Next

As schools open to all students for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, APS Superintendent Elder recognizes the many groups that have supported students, families and schools.

Today we welcome students to our campuses – all Albuquerque Public Schools students who choose to be there, who missed their friends and teachers, who may have struggled with learning online and at home.

We also greet students who choose to continue learning remotely, who have grown accustomed to the virtual school day, who may have found success and comfort logging in from their bedrooms, kitchens, or living rooms.  

We respect whatever choice our families have made for their children, knowing it wasn't an easy decision. We remain committed as ever to supporting all of our students, wherever and however they spend the final eight weeks of the school year.

When the state Public Education Department announced just about a month ago that all students should have the option of returning to their schools by April 5, our entire community sprang into action. That's not to say we weren't preparing for this day all year long, but there were last-minute details to work out, adjustments to make, questions to answer, information to provide, reassurances to give. 

And so here we are, teaching and learning in the new abnormal where half of our students wear face masks and social distance in their classrooms while solving problems and sharing ideas through digital screens with the other half at home.

It took the entire community to swing our doors open today, both literally and symbolically. I want to take a moment to recognize many of the groups that got us here and who continue to work with us as we travel on this winding educational journey. 

Our students get the first shout-out. Too often, because we are so focused on working on their behalf, we forget what a crucial role our students play in their own education. I want to make sure they know how proud I am of them. Thank you, APS students, for making the quick change more than a year ago from in-person to remote learning. Thanks for showing up, for giving it a try, for sticking with it, for asking for help, for finding ways to make it work, and letting us know when it wasn't. I promise you that we will continue to do all we can to make your school life rewarding, enriching, successful, and, yes, even fun. 

To our students' parents, grandparents, and guardians, thanks for caring so much about your children's education. We heard from you often, through emails and phone calls, social media posts, board meetings appearances, even protests. You want to make sure your children get the education they deserve, even during a global pandemic. You want to make sure we get it right. I guarantee we are striving to do just that.  

And, of course, a big thanks to our APS staff, all 12,000 of you. It took a tremendous amount of perseverance to get us through the past 12 months, to switch gears for the next two, and, now, to get ready for the coming school year. I am grateful for all, but I want to recognize a few: 

  • Our Food and Nutrition Services workers who, as of last week, have served more than 7.3 million meals during the pandemic.
  • Our custodians who keep classrooms, hallways and campuses clean and safe from the contagious virus.
  • Our Maintenance and Operations crews who completed more than 18,500 work orders to prepare our schools for reopening.
  • Our school leaders who stand as pillars of strength and confidence in their communities even as they themselves are figuring out how to navigate ever-shifting circumstances.
  • Our teachers who never stop teaching or caring for their students, and the educational assistant and school support staff who work alongside them, even when they aren't in the same room.
  • Our school nurses, who work to keep our kids healthy and the virus from spreading and also who, in many cases, help vaccinate our community so that we can feel safer about returning to school.
  • Our technology team, which has played a crucial role in getting devices to students, programs and training to teachers, support to all.
  • Our counselors and social workers who provide social and mental health care for students and their families along with academic guidance.
  • Our bus drivers, who for months have provided transportation for in-person special education services and who will now get many more of our students to and from school.
  • Our school secretaries who, among many other duties, make sure we have qualified substitute teachers in our classrooms when needed (and those substitute teachers, too!)  
  • And all of our administrative staff, from those who make sure our employees get hired and paid to those who work closely with community partners in getting families the support they need.

A big thanks goes to those community partners, too – the childcare providers, health care providers, tutors, nonprofits, and public and private organizations who take care of our students and families.   

And, finally, thank you to our elected officials, including our own Board of Education, who have had to make difficult decisions on behalf of their citizenry, including the youngest among us.

Forgive me if I haven't included you in this list, but know that I appreciate everyone who has supported the students, staff and families of Albuquerque Public Schools during this difficult year. I look forward to continuing the work as we head toward a more normal, durable course for the future.

Thanks to all! Now, next.