Larry Chavez

Rio Rancho Public Schools learned Thursday that its “Spring 2021 Re-entry Plan” will allow students to participate in New Mexico Activities Association-sanctioned athletics and activities.
The plan, presented to the RRPS Board of Education on Feb. 8, phases in secondary hybrid students beginning with grades 6 and 12 on Monday. Also, the plan provides for additional in-person academic support groups.
Initially, it was reported with the phased-in approach, RRPS would not be permitted to participate in athletics.
“We’re just happy that through (Superintendent Sue) Cleveland’s tireless efforts, and (those of) her staff, that they were able to get an approved plan through the Public Education Department. (They) did a great job for the kids in the community,” said the district’s executive director of athletics, Larry Chavez.
He said he was meeting with the NMAA the next day to discuss athletics schedules.
With Albuquerque Public Schools remaining in a virtual-learning mode only and not participating in athletics, Rio Rancho and Cleveland high schools will have to look elsewhere for competition. Chavez said without APS, only Santa Fe and Farmington schools are in the same classification.
“There will be several adjustments made to schedules this year,” Chavez added. “We will not be putting kids on a bus on a four-hour trip.”
Even with the OK to participate again, Chavez said he was concerned with the possibility of rapid responses: Four to a school in a two-week period shut the school down for two weeks, and that includes canceling/postponing events.
“And, just added in (by the NMAA on Wednesday), if a student-athlete on the football team tests positive, then the whole program is shut down for 14 days,” he said.
High school students, virtual or hybrid, may join in-person support groups, such as tutoring sessions, on Monday, Tuesday or Thursday from 1:30-4:30 p.m. or Friday afternoons from 1:30-3:30. Middle school students will have a similar schedule with times yet to be determined.
Students will be put in cohorts by session, and transportation will not be available. Information on how students may participate will be available soon.
“We are excited that our students will have an opportunity to participate in NMAA-sanctioned athletics and activities, and all activities will be conducted in accordance with the COVID-Safe Practices for activities as outlined in the updated COVID-19 Response Toolkit,” said district spokeswoman Beth Pendergrass.
More information will be shared as soon as RRPS determines the next steps for athletics and activities.