New Mexico school districts are concerned about Department of Education guidelines that require schools to have in-person learning in order to be eligible to participate in New Mexico Activities Association-sponsored athletic events, putting districts in an uncomfortable position.
Currently, the Department guidelines appear to be that a school district must re-enter into a hybrid model - where students rotate between in-person and remote learning - in order to be eligible for athletics. However, students can opt to stay remote and would be eligible as long as their district offers the hybrid model.
The Española School District entered into a hybrid model for only the high school, a decision that may have had more to do with the new sports guidelines than any health or safety precautions.
“If a high school is to be able to participate in these (sports) programs, it must be in a hybrid model,” Superintendent Fred Trujillo wrote in an email. “This prompted all districts to act swiftly with the dates that the governor put into effect.”
Española Athletic Director Ira Harge wrote in an email that the District is still waiting for approval from the Association, and District 2-4A has not yet put a schedule together as they are waiting to see which districts will be eligible.
Harge wrote that it was tough to work through the Department’s decision, though the District is making it work together. He wrote that there has been tremendous support from the school board and administration.
The schedule approved by the Association has all sports in a condensed schedule between February and June, with large overlap. For example, the state basketball championships will take place the first week of May, a full month into the start of baseball season. Football will end the first week of April, right as basketball is beginning and right before the start of baseball.
McCurdy Charter School does not plan to return to a hybrid model, which could leave McCurdy athletes out of any 2021 season, including the defending district champion boys basketball team.
At a Feb. 11 Board meeting, McCurdy Charter School Director Sarah Tario encouraged parents and families to contact Education Secretary Ryan Stewart to say that all students should have an opportunity to participate in athletics.
“I really do want our kids to get to play,” Tario said.
Tario said other superintendents from larger school districts have asked the Department to disassociate sports and re-entry.
McCurdy Athletic Director Robert Nevarez also told the Board that he did not think the charter school was ready for re-entry, and he disagreed with the Department’s decision. He said he was on a call with administrators from larger schools and they agreed. He said the Department made clear that athletes could not participate at other schools.
McCurdy has already opted out of football, volleyball and cross-country, he said.