Athletic workouts are once again on pause in Valencia County as the state of New Mexico moves into a second stay at home order following a rise in COVID 19 cases across the state.
Teams are still allowed to work out in 4:1 pods under the state health order, but both Valencia County school districts have made the decision to pause workouts for the time being.
Belen Consolidated Schools halted all practices prior to the state shutting down as acting superintendent Lawrence Sanchez and athletic director Steven Contreras made the decision and announced it on Wednesday, Nov 11.
“This was a district decision that was made through discussion and review of data,” Contreras said. “The decision was made with the health, safety and well-being of all athletes and coaches in our athletics department in mind.”
Los Lunas also paused workouts following the shutdown, and is planning to reevaluate where the district stands in regards to resuming workouts on Monday, Nov. 30, following the Thanksgiving holiday, according to athletic director Wilson Holland.
“We’re going to have the acting superintendent, Walt Gibson and assistant superintendent Brian Baca sit down on Monday and we’ll see where we stand at that point and make a decision from there,” Holland said. “Any decision will be made with the health and safety of our athletes and all of our staff at the forefront.”
“We’re going to follow the guidance of the governor and what her office is doing, since at this point it’s clear that cases are on the rise and the virus is out of control.”
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the state would return to a stay-at-home order in response to the rapid increase in cases across the state over the last few months.
Teams had previously been allowed to practice in masks, in groups of no more than five athletes.
Originally, the fall sports season was supposed to begin on Oct. 5, with cross country and volleyball, as well as fall golf, kicking things off.
The fall season was scrapped later that week, with Lujan Grisham announcing that she would not be amending the public health order to allow for competitions to take place.
“We can’t do the competitions for prep sports,” Lujan Grisham said at the time. “It’s a huge disappointment, COVID is an unfair, vicious virus.”
Currently, the season is scheduled to begin on Jan. 4, as the basketball, swimming and diving and spirit competitions get underway.
The state has set numerous records for case numbers over the last two months, and currently Valencia County is averaging 41 cases per 100,000 people, well above the eight per 100,000 number outlined in the state’s gating criteria.
Athletic workouts have been allowed since June when conditioning with no equipment was initially given the go-ahead, and had continued, with regulations regarding equipment and pod sizes loosening before an increase in cases brought pod numbers back to five athletes to one coach.
The rescheduled fall sports will begin in February for cross country and March for volleyball and golf.