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Coronavirus FAQs for APS Families and Employees

We have compiled answers to frequently asked questions. This is a fast-moving international crisis that will require updates and more information as it becomes available.

Albuquerque Public Schools continues to provide services, support, and educational resources during these trying, ever-changing times. To keep you informed, we are posting daily updates to our website. Every day brings a new challenge, and we want to make sure you know what your school district is doing to support our students, families, staff, and community.

Closing Schools

Frequently asked questions about the decisions made on the school closure.

How is APS making decisions?

The New Mexico Department of Health and the Public Education Department, under the guidance of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, are taking the lead in the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. APS has an Emergency Operations Team that is working closely with the state as well as the City of Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, community partners, and more. Having a seat at the table ensures our voices are heard and included in decisions that impact all of us.

Why did APS close its schools?

On Wednesday, March 11, Gov. Lujan Grisham declared a public health emergency after several cases of coronavirus were reported in New Mexico. When a few more cases were reported the next day, the governor and state education and health departments called for the closure of all public schools to minimize the spread of the virus. Secretary of Education Ryan Stewart said it was a very difficult decision to make; the state had hoped to keep schools open because they provide essential services for their students and families. However, the decision was made to close schools for three weeks beginning March 16 to keep students and staff safe and to mitigate the spread of the contagious virus.

On Friday, March 27, the state Public Education Department ordered that all schools in New Mexico including Albuquerque Public Schools be closed for the rest of the school year to reduce the spread of the contagious virus.

APS is working on a continuous learning plan for all students for the rest of the school year. In the meantime, supplemental online and printed learning materials are being provided for families.

Distance Learning

Frequently asked questions about distance learning regarding instruction, supplemental materials, free internet through Comcast, and lost instructional time.

Is APS providing instruction for students?

Yes. APS created a Continuous Learning Plan for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year in response to the order by the governor and the New Mexico Public Education Department to close schools. This plan, created in unprecedented times amidst a global pandemic, focuses on essential learning and relationships for all students.

The plan was developed with guidance from the New Mexico Public Education Department, which states: "New Mexico is a state that is grounded in diversity, and this strength should allow us to demonstrate equity, inclusivity, and creativity in supporting the needs of all students."

Our supports and resources are intended to maintain the curious and creative minds of our students. We are aware that the school closure may impact academic growth for students, and we are already investigating ways to overcome the effects of lost instructional time. The resiliency of children and the professional dedication of teachers is a powerful combination, and we believe that together we can overcome this challenge. Please know that we are all in this together. As recommendations for weathering this crisis evolve, we will continue to evaluate ways APS can support our students, families, and schools.  

Is APS providing supplemental learning materials for at-home learning? 

As schools roll out their Continuous Learning Plans this week, we continue to expand our supplemental at-home educational resources to allow students and families more options for learning.  

Wifi on Wheels

On Thursday, April 9, Mayor Keller announced "WiFi on Wheels" to provide drive-up mobile WiFi units at a number of APS schools and area public libraries. Users can drive up to within 100 feet of the mobile units and stay in their cars to promote social distancing while accessing a free WiFi connection. The City of  Albuquerque has a map of free public WiFi Access Points online.

Comcast provides free Internet for families during coronavirus pandemic

To help connect more low-income families during this difficult time, Comcast is offering any new Internet Essentials customer two free months of Internet service, effective immediately. After the second month, customers are free to cancel their service, as the program never requires a contract, or remain in the program as paying customers at the heavily discounted Internet Essentials Rate of $9.95 a month. Sign up for Internet Essentials online or call 1-855-846-8376. Spanish-only speakers can call 1-855-765-6995.

Do schools need to make up lost instructional time?

No. The Secretary of Education announced on Friday, March 13, that the state is waiving the statutory requirement for instructional hours, which means APS won’t need to make up missed days.

Affected Services

Frequently asked questions about how events, activities, sports, child care, meals, school buildings, hiring, the Board, and the superintendent search have been affected.

Is APS canceling events and activities?

Yes, all school and district-related events and activities are canceled while schools are closed.

Are high school sports canceled?

Yes, all games, events, and practices are canceled while schools are closed.

Is child care available? 

APS has partnered with various community agencies to ensure the availability of child care services. Programs are available during regular business hours at several schools. The programs are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Will schools continue to provide meals to students?

Yes. Grab & Go meals will be available to all school-age students under the age of 18 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays. Parents and students may pick up meals at any one of the participating schools. Both breakfast and lunch will be provided at the front of the school. Students must be present to receive meals.

Are school buildings or fields open?

For the most part, no. A few schools are continuing existing child care programs. School access is very limited for employees. Please contact your principal if you need to feed a class pet or pick up items.

During the school closure, all APS fields (elementary, middle and high) are also closed to community use. Clubs are not allowed to be on any APS field at this time. APS Police will be patrolling schools and you will be asked to leave.

Contact School Police if you witness a crime on campus

Our schools (your schools!) are vulnerable to vandalism, damage, and theft when they are closed. We appreciate our neighbors keeping an eye on them. Please contact APS Police at 243-7712 if you witness suspicious behavior.

Is APS hiring?

In order to allow for social distancing as recommended by public health officials, APS closed its Background and Fingerprinting Department, which means new hires and volunteers are on hold while schools are closed. Exceptions may be made for critical positions on a case-by-case basis. 

 Is the Board of Education still meeting?

As a proactive measure to limit the potential community spread of COVID-19, the Board of Education will hold meetings with only the minimum personnel needed to continue the critical work of the district.

This decision means canceling public forum, recognition, and board comments at this time at least through April 6. This situation continues to evolve quickly, and we will be monitoring it closely.

In the meantime, you can participate in the work of the Board of Education by watching the live stream, emailing the board members at , or calling the board members at 505-880-3729.

What's the status of the superintendent search? 

The APS Board of Education announced on Wednesday, March 18, that is it suspending the search for a new superintendent until more is understood about mitigating the spread of the coronavirus.

Employees

Frequently asked questions regarding employee pay, availability, working remotely, reporting to work, additional employment, children at work, tips for working at home, online professional development, and employee benefits.

Are APS employees getting paid while schools are closed?

Yes. Employees are being paid as usual during this time.

Do all employees need to be available during school closures?

Yes. Please check your work email on a daily basis and be available during the regular workday.

What remote work options are available for APS staff?

In order to allow for social distancing as recommended by public health officials, APS is allowing some employees to work from home. Staff may be required to perform limited duties remotely to maintain key functions of the district including but not limited to activities such as instruction, lesson development, curriculum development, staff supports, maintenance and operations and business office functions such as payroll.

Read the Public Education Department's Alternate Work Expectations for School Staff Members During Closure (PDF)

Who needs to report to work?

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a stay-at-home order and limited the number of public gatherings to no more than five people, effective Tuesday, March 24.

Based on guidance from the state, APS employees who provide essential services will need to continue reporting to work during the stay-at-home order. APS essential services include providing meals for students, cleaning classrooms and schools, public safety, and making sure staff and vendors get paid. These employees are reminded to continue practicing social distancing – staying at least six feet apart – and to keep gatherings to fewer than five people.

These employees are only to report to work upon direction from their Supervisor. Supervisors are to schedule these staff only for essential tasks that must be done at this time so that as few employees as possible are reporting to work.

We recognize that these employees are being asked to go above and beyond during this public health crisis, and we appreciate their dedication to the students and families of Albuquerque Public Schools.

Stay At Home FAQs

What if employees aren’t comfortable coming to work during this time?

Employees who perform critical services are expected to come to work. If they are uncomfortable working during this time, they need to address this immediately with their direct supervisor. They will need to take sick, annual or personal leave. APS is responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for its employees and provides its employees with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees to safely perform their work.

What remote work options are available if staff members are quarantined?

APS may permit or require quarantined employees to work from home or use leave pursuant to applicable negotiated agreements. Employees who are quarantined should contact their supervisor to determine if remote work is feasible.

What if I need to take another job during the district’s emergency shut down?

Employment outside of APS needs to comply with the district’s policies and procedures along with state law. According to the policy/procedural directive, there is not a prohibition against outside employment subject to compliance with the Government Conduct Act and the APS Procedural Directive regarding Conflicts of Interest. Please consult with your immediate supervisor regarding any outside employment opportunities.

Additionally, any outside employment must be disclosed by filling out this form: Compliance with the New Mexico Governmental Conduct Act - Ethics and Conflict of Interest Disclosures (PDF).

Please don't bring children to work

Health experts agree that minimizing human exposure is key to blunting the spread of the coronavirus, which is why schools are closed. We appreciate the dedication of essential workers during this difficult time, but we cannot allow you to bring children to work.

Tips for working at home

Most APS employees are now working at home as directed by the governor's stay-at-home order. Here are some helpful tips provided by Andy Bush, executive director for the U.S. Library Services at OCLC, Inc.:

  • Keep a strict office hour schedule and stick to it.
  • Set up an "office" or workspace that is separate from living space if possible.
  • Try to reduce or remove as many distractions as possible.
  • Schedule time to talk to your team or your manager.
  • Make time for breaks, including lunch.
  • Stay present in meetings.
  • Use video for meetings when possible.
  • Use a headset if you have one over a speakerphone.
  • Utilize the Outlook calendar.
  • Find the mute button on your phone.
  • Video and conference calls are a bit of a learned skill.
  • Move through the day.

Read the complete list.

Online professional development

APS employee benefits-coverage and co-pay update due to COVID-19

If you are experiencing symptoms you think may be related to the coronavirus (COVID-19), please call the NMDOH hotline: 1-855-600-3453.

All costs related to COVID-19 testing and treatment are 100% covered under APS Employee Benefits with no copayment, deductible or coinsurance.

Telehealth (calls or video visits), which include mental health services, are also covered and copays are waived for in-network providers. To keep in accordance with CDC recommendations, please use your provider telemedicine resources for any non-COVID, health-related needs:

If you have any questions, please call or email APS Employee Benefits. Phone: 505-889-4859, Email: employee.benefits@aps.edu

Cleaning

Frequently asked questions about how APS is cleaning schools and buses.

Is APS cleaning and disinfecting schools?

Yes. While schools are closed, the custodial staff will be conducting deep cleaning of schools. This includes everything from cleaning walls from ceiling to floor to stripping and waxing floors, scrubbing fixtures, restocking all dispensers, scrubbing and polishing sinks.

Is APS deep cleaning buses?

Yes. APS and its school bus contractors are adding additional cleanings as an added precaution to help provide safe travel to and from school.

Travel

Are all school and district-sponsored travel and field trips canceled?

Yes. All travel and field trips have been canceled during the public health emergency.

Should my family or I travel during spring break?

State and federal officials recommend that you reschedule all unnecessary travel. If you are considering travel, please monitor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel advisories and the New Mexico Department of Health.

Staying Informed

Frequently asked questions about how APS is communicating with the public, how to access updates, suggested ways to discuss the situation with your children, and available mental health supports.

How is APS keeping families, staff, and students informed?

APS is sending emails, making phone calls, posting to the website and social media. Please make sure your child’s school has updated contact information. APS.edu is your best source for up-to-date information.

Where can I turn for more information?

As with any newly emerging infectious disease, knowledge evolves with time. Early on, it is difficult to know the source of the disease, how it spreads, how effectively it spreads from person to person, and how severe the infection is. Accordingly, APS recommends you check the New Mexico Department of Health and CDC sites daily to receive current information regarding public health.

What conversations should parents have with their children at home?

We know families, staff, and students are worried. We are committed to keeping you informed and working with you to keep our school communities safe. Here are a couple of helpful resources:

Mental Health/Crisis Help

As the State of New Mexico's professional mental health line, the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line maintains a solution-focused approach built on validation, normalization, and access to resources. This model has prepared us to appropriately respond to not only to mental health concerns, but also the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

The New Mexico Crisis and Access Line has established business continuity plans to ensure that our services continue to operate as normal. Counselors are here to hear you 24/7 at 855-662-7474.

For APS employees, the Employee Assistance Program is providing assistance and support for employees with personal and/or work-related problems that may impact their job performance and their emotional well-being. EAP can help with stress management, depression, substance abuse, divorce, trauma, relationship issues, anxiety, and medical issues. Reach out and call 505-884-9738.

Ways to Support Yourself

(Information provided by the NM Crisis & Access Line)

  • Understand Your Risk: Seek information from healthcare providers regarding your specific risk factors and prevention.
  • Avoid Unhelpful Sources of Information: Find the news source that you trust and avoid monitoring it 24/7 as this can increase anxiety.
  • Seek Connection with Family and Friends: If you're uncomfortable meeting face to face during the pandemic, use any technology available to prevent isolation and maintain perspective.
  • Take Care of Your Basic Needs: Call the Crisis Line if you need help developing coping skills.