Congratulations to all seniors graduating from Rio Rancho and Cleveland high schools for 2020.

You students have witnessed an experience that will be referred to as a special, unique time in history. We hope your future will be rewarding and successful.

Opening our schools for the 2020-21 academic year will be completely different than any other. I believe we can be sure the department of education in Santa Fe, our governor and all the school districts in New Mexico will be providing an effective plan during this COVID-19 pandemic.

There will be much input from many sources on how to open our schools in the safest way possible. Local input will come from teachers, parents, our school superintendent, school principals, business leaders and other interested parties.

What will be important is that our school district will need support from all of us in the Rio Rancho community.

Issues such as social distancing, wearing masks, providing meals, taking student temperatures, washing of hands, providing school-bus transportation — all these issues and perhaps many others will need to be worked out. We are all aware that all students must have all their required vaccinations before starting school.

With this pandemic, what requirements will all students and all school employees provide, such as being tested for the COVID-19-causing virus? Will our students need to be further educated at home?

This pandemic that is upon us needs to be dealt with as of great importance to not only our students, but for all of us. We must listen, understand and follow the advice that our medical professional responders are providing to us.

Let us support their efforts in keeping this community safe.

Whatever the final plan that is decided on, we must all work together to make sure we have a very safe and successful school year.

I will add one other possibility and hope it does not happen. If this pandemic begins what is called a second wave, will our schools open in August at all?

Thomas E. Carter

Rio Rancho