Rio Rancho Public Schools main office.
(File photo/ Rio Rancho Observer)

School is out for three weeks because of the novel coronavirus.

After being informed that the state Public Education Department ordered a statewide school closure for three weeks, Rio Rancho Public Schools Superintendent Sue Cleveland sent an email to area parents Thursday evening.

“We are still in the process of gathering information related to this,” Cleveland said, noting there was going to be school on Friday the 13th.

The RRPS website, rrps.net, has a page dedicated to schools-related coronavirus updates. It can be accessed by clicking on the coronavirus image near the top of the home page.

“Please know that Rio Rancho Public Schools will continue to place the education, safety and well-being of our students and staff as our first priority,” Cleveland wrote, urging all to “remain calm, become educated and make smart decisions to protect our community.”

On Friday, the governor’s office issued another statement, which included the fact that “schools will not be required to make up the missed instructional days at the end of the academic year,” according to the PED.

Public colleges and universities are not included in the closure order, although the governor urged regents and governing boards to move or extend spring breaks and shift educational and business services to online models to the greatest extent possible.

School buildings also will remain open, including cafeterias and school-based health centers. School buildings could also be used for temporary child-care operations.

All school-sponsored parent or community events, performing and visual arts events and athletic competitions and practices are being canceled or postponed.

On Friday, RRPS Athletic Director Larry Chavez issued the first of what he indicated would be two moratoriums, with the second expected after an emergency meeting of the New Mexico Activities Association’s board of directors Friday afternoon.

Chavez said there would be a three-week moratorium on high school games, practices, banquets, etc. — basically gatherings of more than 100 people.

All that was going on March 14 was the state basketball tournament, with seven state championship games — played without fans in Dreamstyle Arena—The Pit, although an earlier rule restricting media had been lifted.

Also, Cleveland High’s production “Once Upon a Mattress” was postponed.

“We need to honor the governor’s state of emergency of no crowd gathering of more than 100. This has been put in place to minimize the exposure to others,” Chavez wrote. “There should be no practices held after (March 13) when the bell rings to end the academic day.”

The spring sports season could be resumed, he indicated: “After the three-week moratorium, on April 6, we will review the remainder of the spring sports. I have been in contact with district athletic directors from Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. All have agreed to follow the same protocol ban on practices for three weeks.”

Thus, no team will get a jump on the remainder of the season by practicing before April 6.

Included in the moratorium was the directive that field-use agreements previously signed would not be honored, thus keeping RRPS’s athletic facilities unused by the public.

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