February 22, 2021
Just about a year ago, our collective worlds came crashing down around us. COVID-19 was taking hold and wreaking havoc in certain parts of our country, especially in New York City. As our state learned more about this highly transmittable and deadly virus, you faced many tough decisions in your responsibility for keeping all of New Mexico as safe as possible.
Many of these decisions, like closing schools, restaurants, gyms, etc., were not “popular,” but they were necessary, and we proudly supported your strong leadership. You modeled bravery, conviction, and the ability to make tough decisions based on the collective good of all New Mexicans. We were keenly aware that making these decisions for the whole was much different than making an individual decision, and we respected then, as we still do now, the awesome burden you shouldered.
You have since wisely given local Boards of Education in New Mexico the same heavy responsibility in making decisions on how to best move forward. With that in mind, our very own Albuquerque Public School Board recently recommitted to keeping staff and students safe by allowing for volunteers to begin in-person, small group teaching for our most vulnerable students. This decision is also an awesome burden, now being shouldered by our Board of Education.
This difficult decision was based on local conditions, needs, and immensely complicated factors. This decision is no different than the many districts that have begun some form of voluntary hybrid learning. This decision was made in compliance with all guidelines your office has provided. Consequently, your recent comments singling out APS as a “disappointment” are confusing to us.
We are not disappointed in the APS Board’s decision to not only keep our community safe, but to also provide targeted interventions to students, just as we have not been disappointed in your efforts to keep New Mexico safe, often with targeted approaches. And make no mistake, limiting capacity of businesses to 25%, or limiting dining to patio only, or limiting gatherings to no more than 5 or 10 are targeted approaches that attempt to address the needs of the community while keeping the virus at bay.
We continue to have faith in your leadership. Every educator in APS is anxious to return to in-person schooling. We know that in-person schooling is best for our students. As education professionals we also know that consistency, structure, and routines are essential for our students. Those crucial educational elements have been our focus, equaled only by our efforts to provide innovative and engaging lessons. We are devoted to providing the best education and social/emotional experience possible to all we serve.
In many states that have reopened schools, teachers were given priority in vaccinations, it is essential for reopening in the least disruptive fashion, and we know you are working hard to ensure all education workers can soon receive their vaccinations.
We have signed up and are ready as soon as your department of health has shots available.
APS Educators represented by the Albuquerque Teachers Federation