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Back to school

School district issues updates on virtual learning, masks and more as school year starts


Las Cruces Public Schools’ 2021-22 school year began Monday, Aug. 9, for K-12 students. Kindergarten transition days began Aug. 10.

For the first time in more than a year, school district buildings are open on the first day of the school year for in-person learning, despite a growing number of families who opted to enroll students in the district’s Virtual Learning Academy (VLA). 

Virtual learning

The number of VLA students had grown to 850, or roughly four percent of LCPS’ total student population.

The deadline to apply to VLA was Aug. 6.

Parents who contacted the district about VLA should expect to hear from their school next week, LCPS Deputy Superintendent of Teaching, Learning, Leadership and Research Wendi Miller-Tomlinson said in an Aug. 6 news release from LCPS.

“We are working to contact every parent, and that process takes time,” Miller-Tomlinson said.

Miller-Tomlinson said instruction will be adjusted to ensure there is no penalty for students who are enrolled after the start of school.

VLA is completely virtual learning; it is not distance or hybrid learning, VLA Principal Stephanie Hanway said.

“Students will not be in class on Zoom every day,” she explained. “Teachers will outline the expectations for the week, and it will be the responsibility of the student to complete the work and reach out for assistance.” 

As a program, VLA has been an extension of LCPS for about 10 years. Originally offered as a way to recover credits or to accelerate, the need for VLA as an option for families became apparent when schools went fully remote in 2020.

Masks and wellness checks

Superintendent Ralph Ramos announced Aug. 3 that masks will be required inside all LCPS buildings.

“Starting Aug. 4, 2021, all LCPS students and staff will be required to wear masks indoors during the school day and during afterschool indoor events,” said Ramos. “We will continue to monitor the state’s public health orders and will comply with any mask requirements and social distancing guidelines as they relate to outdoor events on school grounds.” 

“We are following the most current guidance from our local and national health experts,” said Ramos, who added that maintaining a safe environment for students and staff remains a priority in planning for the upcoming school year.

Parents are encouraged to conduct wellness checks on their children before sending them to school. Students who have a fever or Covid-like symptoms should stay home. According to guidance from the New Mexico Public Education Department, anyone exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19 should self-isolate for 10 days. 

Athletics and performing arts 

Sports and extracurricular activities will resume when school starts. Masks will be required indoors and current guidance from the New Mexico Public Education Department allows for travel and overnight stays. Quarantine for out-of-state travel is recommended but not required. 

All performing arts students, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear masks and maintain a six-foot social distance, or to the greatest extent possible. Specialized masks and bell covers are required for students playing wind instruments, and instruments are not to be shared. Supplies for cleaning instruments will be made available. 

School gatherings and performances will be allowed, pending public health orders. 

Organ Mountain High School 

Aug. 9 was the first day of school for the first graduating class of Organ Mountain High School. Plans to change signs from the former Oñate High School were underway over the summer and new signs are expected to go up in the coming weeks. 

Schedules and school supply lists

Visit www.lcps.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/LCPS-2021-22-Calendar.pdf for the LCPS calendar of events for the 2021-22 school year.

Visit www.lcps.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/2022SchoolSchedule.pdf for a schedule of class times for all grade levels.

Visit www.lcps.net/2021/08/03/school-supply/ for a school supply list in English and Spanish.

Bilingual resources

Bilingual resources are available for LCPS families through the Bilingual Community Outreach Hotline, 575-468-8279. The hotline is on call Monday through Friday.