COVID restraints are back in schools - Albuquerque Journal

COVID restraints are back in schools

Physical education teacher Craig Gelhardt welcomes students before entering a classroom at Cleveland Middle School in April. APS announced enhanced COVID restrictions on Tuesday. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

In response to the surging number of COVID cases, Albuquerque Public Schools has instituted a number of restrictions, including the wearing of masks outdoors as well as indoors, having students face one direction in classrooms and in cafeterias, limiting use of drinking fountains to filling water bottles and prohibiting spectators at school events, including athletics.

The restrictions go into effect Wednesday and will remain in place for two weeks, said APS Chief Operating Officer Gabriella Blakey.

“It’s a plan that we’ve had in place since October that if a school reaches 5% positivity rate, they move into more enhanced practices, which is kind of like a tightening of the belt of COVID safe practices,” Blakey said. “So we decided as a district to go ahead and move into the enhanced practices for 14 days to help preserve our in-person learning, because that’s our priority right now, as well as lowering the spread of the virus both in our schools and in the community.

“We’re hoping that by moving into more enhanced practices, we’ll be able to help the community and our students to get to a better place where we’re not waiting until 5% and then doing it,” she said.

Thus far, only two schools have reached that 5% benchmark – Eldorado High School and the eCADEMY on-site campus, Blakey said.

About half of the 145 schools in the APS system are approaching or have reached 3%, she said.

Other enhanced measures being enacted include:

• Eating outdoors when possible
• Keeping students in cohorts
• Allowing only essential visitors on school property
• Prohibition of large group gatherings such as assemblies
• Staggering transition times and recesses
• Restricting locker use
• Having students report directly into classes or cohorts upon arrival.

Students who test positive for COVID must quarantine at home for five days, after which they can return to school providing they do not have a fever and their symptoms have subsided, Blakey said.

Student athletes must continue wearing masks during practices and during games, she said.

APS is also trying to make it easier for students and staff to get COVID vaccines and boosters, hosting shot clinics at schools and APS facilities.

Vaccines, but not boosters, are available for children ages 5-11. Students 12 and older are eligible for booster shots as long as they received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago or the second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine five months ago.

For a list of locations offering shot clinics and available times and registration information, go to:

aps.edu/news/news-from-2021-2022/covid-shot-clinics-at-aps-schools-facilities, and click on the “COVID Shot Clinics” link.

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