LOS LUNAS—Los Lunas Schools will continue its remote learning until the end of the current semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Los Lunas Schools Board of Education voted 4-1 in favor of remaining on the remote-learning plan during a special meeting on Friday evening.

Acting Superintendent Walt Gibson recommended the district to remain in remote learning, saying he’s communicated with multiple superintendents and the director of the Superintendent’s Association.

“We’ve been at it for two weeks. We’ve had some glitches, mostly technical, mostly around the issues of access and folks being able to connect to the internet and stay on the internet, but we’re getting better at it every day,” Gibson said. “I’ve been talking to all of the principals … there is a strong level of support from the staff for remaining on remote learning for the remainder of the semester.”

Gibson mentioned his concern about students going back and forth between remote learning and hybrid learning, which is why he recommended the action be taken for the remainder of the semester.

Many of the board members shared the same sentiments.

“I think it’s an excellent idea and I support it,” board member Steven Otero said. “It sounds like things are going very well right now, and I’d hate to see us jumping back and forth like other districts.”

BOE member David Vickers expressed concern for the mental and physical wellbeing of students who don’t have a safe home life and are forced to remain there for long periods of time.

“I have the utmost respect for Mr. Gibson and the staff that we have and all of the work they’ve put into planning for this school year,” Vickers said. “My main concern is the students that are at home, isolated, who would normally have the school as a safe haven as a place to talk to a councilor … I’m very concerned of the welfare of those students that are at risk in those ways.”

Vickers, who voted against the motion, said he’d prefer to have the official assurance from the New Mexico Department Public of Education that the students won’t have to go back and forth between remote learning and the hybrid model for learning.

Gibson responded, saying while he was asking the board to vote on the plan for the rest of the semester, if things were to dramatically improve in the county and state, there would be no reason the board couldn’t come back and vote to alter the plan.

“I would really like to know that we are not creating any kind of danger or any kind of chaos,” Gibson. “That can always be adjusted by your vote.”

The board members will receive weekly updates from Gibson and will have a discussion about those updates at every board meeting to asses if virtual learning will need to continue for the rest of the semester.

When the News-Bulletin broke the news Friday on its social media sites about the board’s decision, the reaction was divided.

“Our children deserve a good in-person education, but if that isn’t safe we do what is best,” wrote Val Thomas. “That is part of being a parent. Not just treating schools like a convenient daily baby sitter. Parents make sacrifices for their kids, not the other way around.”

Another person wrote of the frustrations of remote learning.

“Then please, please, please help the K-6 teachers find a better, more efficient and productive way to teach their students,” Janice Hutchens wrote. “My granddaughter’s K class is total chaos!”

School lunch program

The USDA has extended the summer lunch program. This means from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31, all children from the ages of 1-18 will be eligible for a free breakfast and lunch.

Meals will be served from noon to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday (except Meadow Lake and Highland Meadows. They will be serving meals from noon to 12:30 p.m.).

Children must be present to receive a meal.

Grab and Go sites:

•Los Lunas Elementary

•Los Lunas High School

•Bosque Farms Elementary

•Valencia Middle School

•Ann Parish Elementary

•Meadow Lake Fire Station (noon to 12:30 p.m.)

•Highland Meadows Fire Station (noon to 12:30 p.m.)

Los Lunas prep sports

Los Lunas Schools will be able to participate in fall sports when the season begins in October.

District officials have decided to participate in fall sports even though student-athletes will remain in remote learning through the end of the fall semester.

The New Mexico Activities Association has given districts which decide to remain in remote learning through the end of the semester the option to decide whether they will participate in fall sports or opt out.

Los Lunas High School, which will play in a district that includes three high schools in Albuquerque Public Schools, may be left to fill games in the schedule in the event that APS opts out of the sports season. No decision has been made as of Monday, Aug. 31.

Valencia High School, which plays in a district that includes Belen, is set up for a full schedule as none of its district opponents have contemplated opting out.

Los Lunas and Valencia high schools will be able to return to practice on Tuesday, Oct. 8, for out-of-season workouts. The fall season, which will include fall golf, volleyball and cross country, is scheduled to begin on Oct. 5, with the first day of competitions on Saturday, Oct. 10.

Los Lunas Schools has not yet released schedules for the fall.

(News-Bulletin sports reporter Cameron Goeldner contributed to this report.)

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The Valencia County News-Bulletin is a locally owned and operated community newspaper, dedicated to serving Valencia County since 1910 through the highest journalistic and professional business standards. The VCNB is published weekly on Thursdays, including holidays both in print and online.