Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
Going back to school during a pandemic means there are more questions on parents' minds than whether kids remembered their lunch: Will there be enough hand sanitizer? What type of air filtration is in place? What if the windows are jammed and can't be cracked?
Albuquerque Public Schools has launched a dashboard for teachers, students and families to get those answers and see how their school building has been prepped for campuses to reopen April 5.
Under the COVID-19 update link on the home page of APS.edu, a “safety measures” tab houses a spreadsheet with every APS school listed. There's a checklist that includes an overview of what HVAC preparation has been done, whether a fire marshal has inspected the school for COVID safety and if the school has the personal protective equipment it needs, such as face masks and hand sanitizer.
That checklist also highlights the schools that are fully ready to go and the buildings that still need attention in the next few weeks before schools reopen – a handful need window repairs.
“We're physically going out to check all of the schools for windows that do open so that's why that one is taking the longest period of time,” said Gabriella Blakey, interim chief operations officer.
For example, windows at Whittier Elementary School needed to be fixed after having been painted shut.
Blakey anticipates everything will be completed by April 5. But if there are any outstanding issues on that day, classes would be held in a different space.
The spreadsheet, which will continue to be updated, also has information on specific areas of a school, spelling out details from the type of HVAC units in place to whether windows and doors can be opened.
Since circulating the air is a big priority to mitigate COVID-19 spread, the district is encouraging students to dress in layers and bring jackets, which are available through the APS Community Clothing Bank for students who need them.
APS's website also links to documents from the fire marshal school visits.
“Over 1,500 work orders have been completed to prepare our classrooms and we continue to prioritize repair and maintenance on our school buildings. Any room that does not meet our stringent safety standards will not be used for instructional purposes unless it is repaired or remediated,” district officials wrote on the web page.
APS is getting ready to open its doors to all students who opt into in-person learning after pressure from the state Public Education Department. Blakey said as of late Wednesday every APS employee who has asked for a vaccine had at least an appointment and about 30% of staff had received their second vaccine.