Classes will be conducted online for the foreseeable future. Click here for a list of Academy-run small businesses that could use our support.
All community messages are listed below, as well as list of FAQs specific to Albuquerque Academy. For general information about COVID-19, please refer to WHO, the CDC, and the New Mexico Department of Health. For specific medical questions and information, please contact your student’s primary care physician. If you think you have been exposed to the virus and/or are experiencing fever, cough, or shortness of breath, call the NMDOH Coronavirus Hotline at (855) 600-3453.
People without those symptoms do not need to be tested for COVID-19. This is allergy season, and allergy symptoms such as sneezing or itchy eyes, nose, or throat do not indicate a need for testing. While the state is grateful that COVID-19 testing is increasingly available, people with symptoms of COVID-19 are prioritized for testing.
New Mexicans who have non-health-related questions or concerns can also call (833) 551-0518 or visit newmexico.gov, which is being updated and finalized as a one-stop source for information.
Frequently Asked Questions
3/31: My student registered for Think Summer classes or applied to work in the Think Summer program. Will the summer program go on as planned?
3/28: My family is experiencing income loss due to COVID-19. Is help available for tuition payments?
UPDATED 3/27 How will standardized tests -- ACTs, SATs, and APs -- be impacted?
- The March 14 SAT and April 4 ACT have been canceled.
- On March 20, the College Board announced that AP exams will not cover certain parts of the curriculum, as teachers are not expected to be able to get through as much material. They are also developing at-home test options and intend to offer two test dates, so students may opt to take exams while content is still fresh or have extra time to prepare. AP students will receive further information. On March 27, the College Board provided this additional information:
- Further details about exam dates, accommodations, and exam conflicts will be announced April 3.
- Students will be able to choose one of two exam dates.
- Exams will be conducted online.
- Exams will have modified content and will ask only free-response questions.
- You may cancel your exam registration before April 30 to receive a $94 refund per exam. Late fees will not be refunded. Refunds may take up to 72 hours to process. To cancel, send the following information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Student name
- Name of school, city, and state
- Title of exam you wish to cancel
3/20: Are there cases of COVID-19 within the Academy community?
Please contact Ms. Parsons directly if your status changes.
3/13 How can I get help for hardships created by COVID-19?
Meals for Students: In response to the community coronavirus threat, and in an effort to minimize social interactions to prevent the spread of the illness, Grab & Go meals will be available at 89 locations to all school-age students under the age of 18 as of Monday, March 16, 2020. Get details here.
UPDATED 3/13 What is the online learning plan?
3/12 Should my student self-quarantine? How will I know if stricter measures need to be taken?
3/12 My child is sick. What should I do?
3/9 What systems/apps will my student need for online learning?
Resources and Links
4/1-4 ISAS Arts Festival
4/2 Thursday Seminars
4/6 Community Day
4/15-18 JEA/NSPA High School Journalism Conference
4/15-23 ReadRecycle Book Sale
4/29 Tri-School Case Studies
5/6-9 National Mock Trial Competition
3/12 Cum Laude Society Induction Ceremony
3/14-15 Lifeguard Class
3/17 9th Grade Community Service Trip
3/18 AAPA Spring Parent Meeting
3/19 Step into a Life Simulation
5/1 Andy Watson Retirement Celebration
5/8 Chargers Giving Back Day
Charger Aquatics Masters Swim Practice
Messsages to the Community
Dear 6-7 students,
I want to welcome you back warmly from spring break! Although I know most of you did not venture far, I hope you were still able to rest and relax in old fashioned as well as thoroughly modern ways. It turns out that “social distancing” and “spring break” don’t go together very well, in my opinion, and social distancing certainly doesn’t describe the energy that characterizes a typical spring day on Academy’s west campus. I’m missing that energy already, but my hope is that we can all be together very soon, and I’m confident we will continue to come up with creative ways to support one another and keep our community strong.
As we continue this new approach to online learning together, I want to go over a few important topics that will guide us in our work over the coming weeks.
For starters, we will be organizing our days around a regular schedule. Seventh graders, you will use an A/B schedule that is similar to what is being used in the upper school. Sixth graders, your schedule will unfold over a six-day cycle (view Juniper and Piñon examples) in which you will see roughly half your classes every other day. You will still have PE and PAG.
One exciting bit of news for both grades is that your school day does not officially begin until 9 a.m. each morning! Please take advantage of your extra hour to get a good night’s sleep and eat well before your day starts. Please note also that there are a number of breaks built into your day, and your afternoon is scheduled loosely in a way that should allow you to get your work done before dinner. In order to help regulate the amount of time we are devoting to each class, teachers will be limited to no more than 60 minutes per day (this combines the class period plus any homework assigned). You will also not be receiving homework on days you do not have a class. We will conduct frequent surveys to make sure the workload is appropriate, and we will make adjustments where necessary. Technology will obviously play a much bigger role in your learning over the next few weeks, so please make sure you reach out immediately if you are experiencing tech problems that are preventing you from fully participating in school. (Sixth graders: Please contact your family head and Ms. Geores if you are having a persistent tech issue. Seventh graders: Please contact your family head and Ms. Turner if this is the case for you.)
When school was forced to close suddenly almost three weeks ago, we went into an “asynchronous” mode, and communication came from lots of different directions. No more! Along with a return to scheduled classes, I want to assure you that we will also return to using Canvas as the primary mode for teacher-student communication. Your teachers will be posting assignments and due dates on Canvas, just like they have been doing all year, so it is very important to check there for relevant information. Because you will not be physically present to get back graded work, some teachers will also be experimenting with Canvas as a way to post grades, which they will explain in their respective classes.
Virtual school is an entirely different beast. In the same way that you might express yourself differently in a text to a friend than in an assignment for a class, your online presence can take many forms, so it is important to engage appropriately with your teachers and classmates while learning online. In many cases, you and your teachers are navigating the new waters of tools like Zoom at the same time, and we will be most successful if we stick to common norms and behaviors. Before classes start up again tomorrow, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the basic online etiquette discussed here. If you’d like to get a better sense of exactly what some of these expectations should (or shouldn’t!) look like in reality, check out this clever video.
Family time is built into the schedule, and it is a strong tradition that we intend to keep alive during this enforced time away. Please see where it is scheduled in your day, and please note that your family heads will be using it in a variety of ways to help everyone stay connected, to keep tabs on academic trends, and to answer general questions. We are also working on plans to carry on the tradition of morning meeting, and even some special virtual lunch arrangements, but these will not happen everyday, so stay tuned!
Events surrounding COVID-19 have moved incredibly fast, and they have caused us all to both pause and react at the same time. This is stressful, and while it is normally a season to celebrate spring and the wrapping up of an immensely successful school year, we are all living a different moment to remember. It is important to take care of yourself, to take regular breaks and get plenty of fresh air, to get exercise, to connect with your friends in as many ways as you can, and to know that things will eventually get better. In addition to your parents, your teachers, and your peers, Dr. Tanner (email@example.com) and Ms. Nadine (firstname.lastname@example.org) are available to help out if you would like their support.
I know things still seem upside down right now, but we will get through this together, and we will be a much better school in the future as a result. We will have stronger bonds because of our shared experience, and I’m confident we will all be kinder and more reflective as a result of this strange set of circumstances. As I wrote on the Wednesday when classes were abruptly cancelled last month, this is definitely not the school environment any of us signed up for. At the same time, however, our beautiful campus will be waiting for us when we return, and we are not going anywhere in the meantime, so let’s roll up our sleeves, buckle our seatbelts, reach out for help when it’s needed, and be good to one another. We have everything we need to make this a wonderful spring!
6-7 Division Head
Dear 8-9 students,
I hope you enjoyed a relaxing and restful break at home with your families. In the time of social distancing, it’s harder to find ways to have fun without being able to hang out with friends. You’re a very creative group of students who I’m sure found new ways to virtually hang out and have a good time. I’d love to hear about the ways you’ve found to stay connected with your friends; please share your ideas/stories with me. Connection is more important now than ever before.
As we prepare to return to our virtual school tomorrow, I want to welcome you back. Your teachers and I have been working hard to prepare for online learning and to set up our virtual school. There is a set A/B day schedule that was designed to help guide your learning and our teaching. As you can see from the 8-12 schedules, you only meet with half of your classes each day, which also means you only have homework in those classes that day. You will not have homework for classes on days you don’t meet with that class. This will help with the feelings of stress that some of you experienced during our first week of online learning. Always remember to check Canvas for assignments and important announcements and reminders from your teachers. Your teachers will also send weekly updates about their class to you and your parents so you can track what you’re learning in each of your classes. While you will continue to receive grades in MP4, we will assess how the grading is going throughout this quarter and adjust appropriately. All teachers will now be posting grades on Canvas. Additionally, your teachers will be flexible around deadlines, understanding that there may be technical challenges or work set-up challenges that might interfere with your ability to hand in work easily. If you are experiencing technical issues, please let your teachers know and contact the Technology Department, which is available to troubleshoot issues and assist with hardware needs; you can contact them by email (email@example.com) or phone (828-3249). That said, teachers will be contacting your parent(s) if they see patterns of tardiness with work or if an assignment is very late.
Attendance is still very important and will be taken at the start of each Zoom class period, so please be prompt when joining your Zoom class. If you’re consistently late to a virtual class or miss it altogether, it will be reported and your parent(s) will be contacted.
The A/B schedule also allows for advisory periods every A day. You are expected to participate in the advisory periods through Zoom; your adviser will send you an invitation to join advisory periods. There are also club meetings on A and B days, and the faculty member(s) in charge of your club will let you know about those meetings. Teachers also have “office hours” both days, when they are available for you, outside of the class period, if you have questions or concerns. Please take advantage of this time and reach out to your teachers whenever needed.
Since learning has moved to an online platform, there are etiquette protocols and policies that we expect students to follow to ensure that online classes are productive, engaging, and safe for all. They are outlined on the Academy online learning page under online etiquette. Inappropriate online behaviors will be reported by your teacher to me and/or Ms. Short, and we will notify your parent(s). I have every confidence that you will be engaged in your online education in the best way possible.
Despite the distance that separates us, our 8-9 community will continue to stay strong and connected through daily announcements, advisory, and the work the 8-9 Student Council is doing to build community in a virtual space. Look out for those fun opportunities and share any ideas you have with me and the sponsors of the 8-9 Student Council, Ms. Coston and Mr. Johnson. We’d love to hear them!
As this is the “new normal” for us for the near future, and we’re all trying to do our very best to navigate the world of online learning, please look out for weekly surveys to let me know how it’s going. I will be reviewing the surveys to ensure that we’re creating the best learning environment possible for you. Outside of those surveys, please contact me directly if you’re having issues that I can help you with. We’re all in this together and I want to do whatever I can to be there for you. In addition, our counselors, Mr. Torrez (347-8546) and Dr. Soisson (355-8107), are available and can be reached by email or phone, and may even choose to meet with you online.
In the end, what’s most important in all of this is your health and well-being. Take care of yourself by taking breaks throughout the day to get off your computer and to go outside for some fresh air and sunshine. Go to bed at a decent hour and get plenty of sleep. We care about you and want to know you’re doing well and staying healthy. Your teachers and I will miss seeing you in person, but look forward to working with you and staying connected in our virtual classrooms.
Be well and take care,
Dear 10-12 students,
I really miss seeing all of you, and I think about you each day. I hope that this time has provided an opportunity to connect with your families and (virtually) with your friends.
Over spring break, we worked to build community activities and creative online learning opportunities. We are excited to begin the online school program tomorrow and are here to support each of you during the transition. We aim to help all of you feel a sense of predictability, continuity, and connection to our school community.
Schedules and Assignments
On April 2, we will begin with an A day and follow an A/B schedule. At the beginning of each class, teachers and students will check in and take attendance. Plan on entering the Zoom classrooms using a password and with your audio and video enabled. The 75-minute block may include an introductory lesson, discussion, asynchronous work, and time to complete a writing assignment. Teachers will use the time allotted as they see fit to fulfill the curriculum objectives. All teachers may assign up to 20 minutes of homework each day outside of the scheduled class time. We asked teachers to assign work only on the day that their class meets and to refrain from setting deadlines that fall on days their classes do not meet. On any given day, you should only have homework for half of your classes. Teachers will continue to post all assignments and needed resources on Canvas. Teachers will also begin to post grades on Canvas. Each week, we will seek feedback on your experience and, if needed, make adjustments.
Advisers will hold meetings every A day from 9:30 to 9:50 a.m. One advisory session per week will focus on completing a structured, large group activity. Advisers will take attendance. Advisers will use the other advisory times at their discretion. They might ask to meet one on one, convene in small groups, or check in with everyone in a full group Zoom. Please follow the instructions provided by your adviser.
Each day, all teachers will be available during office hours from 11 to 11:30 a.m. If you need help or have additional questions, feel free to contact your teacher. Also, club sponsors will reach out via email to arrange meetings and asynchronous activities during designated club times.
If you are absent, please ask your parent/guardian to email Ms. Eckhardt or call 828-3112. If you do not Zoom into class each day, your teacher or an administrator will contact your parent/guardian to determine the reason for your absence.
You will receive number grades for the fourth marking period. Teachers will base grades on student engagement and student progress and not focus so much on end-of-unit tests. They will be flexible regarding deadlines and understand that you may encounter technical difficulties or challenges. However, if they see patterns of tardiness, extremely late assignment submissions, or missing work, teachers will contact your parent or guardian. If you encounter technological challenges, please immediately contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 828-3249.
Seniors, we are continuing to consider options for holding the important events of your final year, like prom, senior week, and commencement. As we learn more about the path forward, we will communicate directly with you and your families. Finding ways for the Class of 2020 to celebrate these important milestones is a priority to all of us!
Please read the letter from Mr. Hanselmann and Dr. Sullivan on March 19 regarding senior projects and review the additional information on Canvas. Your proctors will reach out to help you reassess your project and find a way to proceed. You must devote 20 hours per week to your senior project.
The Student and Parent Handbook and Online Etiquette
Although our format for learning has changed, we will continue to hold all students accountable to the contents of the Student and Parent Handbook and expect everyone to follow the online etiquette guidelines. When using online resources, be sure you submit your own work and ideas. If you have questions about how to best use online materials, please reach out to me or your teachers for assistance.
Community Building Activities
In order to feel connected during our time at home, we designed a few activities for all 10-12 students.
- Ask Me Anything: Ms. Sheridan Johnson arranged for experts in their fields, including authors, actors, a NASA scientist, and a U.S. diplomat, to Zoom with our students every Tuesday at 3:45 p.m. Students may approach these experts with questions. We will provide further details soon.
- Memes: We encourage students to create a meme that we can use in the daily announcements. Please send your memes to Mr. Anderson and Mr. Kevan.
- Spirit Fridays: On April 10, the first theme will be crazy hair day. Join your Zoom classroom to see all of the crazy hairdos.
- Videos: Help us create 10-12 videos that we can share with the community every two weeks! We’ll announce a theme, collect your videos, and compile them into a community video for you to enjoy. Watch for the first theme, and instructions for submitting your videos, in Monday’s daily announcements.
- Meditation: We invite you to join meditation sessions on Mondays during club time or Thursdays at 3:45 p.m.
- Yoga: Mr. Murphy will lead a club time yoga class on Wednesdays.
Check the daily announcements for additional information on all these events. Changes to the calendar, the A/B schedule, and other important communications will also be found in the daily announcements.
During this time of uncertainty, I want to remind all of you that the administrators, counselors, advisers, and teachers are all here to support you. Please reach out to us if you have questions, concerns, or just need to talk. We are all available via email, phone, or Zoom.
Dr. Lenhart – 828-3388
Mr. Anderson – 828-3245
Mr. Kevan – 858-8844
Ms. Dragone – 318-5630
Mr. Torrez – 347-8546
Mr. Marcus – 340-9079
As we all adjust to our new norm, please be patient and flexible with one another. Also, take care of yourself by going outside, taking fun breaks, and getting enough sleep. We are all learning how to work online and will improve throughout the process. Please let me know if you need anything.
We hope everyone is ready to resume their Academy experience!
We hope that you and your family are safe and healthy, and that spring break provided some moments of rest and connection with family that was nourishing to all of you. We miss seeing our students and you, and though we are feeling creative and ready for the challenge of online learning, all of us are experiencing a sense of loss as we make our way through this necessary and mandated distancing.
We have been working over the last weeks to move all our classes online for the foreseeable future, and I would like to describe in broad strokes what we hope to accomplish with your students. For your information and future reference, we have also created an online learning website page that has information about topics like attendance, senior projects, daily schedules, and the like.
Our clearest and most important goal is to help your student feel a sense of normalcy, continuity, and connection to our school community. We aim to help them stay engaged with learning and retain a school mindset throughout this difficult time of physical distancing.
Though many teachers have blended face-to-face instruction with online class work for years, we have never delivered all our instruction in this manner. Many students have taken courses through the Global Online Academy, but none of our students have had to manage all their learning online. We will all need to be patient and flexible as our community adjusts to our new online world, and we will all get better at both the teaching and the learning as the weeks go by. We will survey students, parents, and faculty regularly so we can assess and adjust our routines and practices to improve the online experience as we become more practiced and adept. When we survey you, we promise to keep the questions brief and manageable; in return, we ask for your brief, constructive, and specific feedback.
Here are the broad strokes of our program:
Students will follow an A/B schedule with roughly half their classes on the A day and half on the B day. Teachers have been directed to meet synchronously with their students at the beginning of the class period to check in, take attendance, and then use some portion of the period to introduce a unit, hold a discussion, assign some asynchronous work, or provide some other appropriate teaching. The synchronous class length will vary, depending on the learning goals of that particular day. Students should plan each day to enter their Zoom classrooms via password with audio and video ready to go. Teachers will communicate and post resources and assignments for their classes via Canvas.
Workload for Students
As we worked through our first week of online, asynchronous learning, we saw that many students were somewhat overwhelmed with both the amount of work and the frequency of teacher communications. Some parents were overwhelmed as well. We have directed faculty to only assign students work to complete on the day that their class meets. Your child should only have homework for half their classes on any given day. Further, teachers have been instructed not to have work due on a day when their class does not meet. They also should not post and assign homework on a day when their class is not meeting.
We understand that work online often takes longer than work done in class, and we are guiding faculty to err on the side of less work overall as we adjust. We are also encouraging teachers to assign work that does not always require screen time so students can experience varied learning modes throughout the day. In the surveys we will send, there will be questions about your student’s experience of the daily and weekly workload.
We will hold numerous advisory meetings each week; some sessions will be part of a coordinated divisional curriculum, and the others will be for the advisor to use at their discretion—meeting with individuals or small groups, or checking in with everyone in a full group Zoom.
Clubs have a specific meeting time within the schedule as well, though some clubs are more easily adapted to an online setting than others. Club sponsors will work with student club leaders to arrange meetings and asynchronous activities.
If your child is ill or will be absent for some other reason, please email or call the divisional administrative assistants as you would normally. If your student does not Zoom into class as expected, we will be contacting you to understand the reason for their absence. Similarly, if your student begins not to hand in work regularly, the teacher will partner with you to help them get back on track. If you are concerned about your student for any reason, please reach out to the appropriate person, which might be the teacher, the advisor, the dean of students, the counselor, the learning specialist, or the division head.
While students continue to acquire content knowledge, we believe they will learn other skills and habits of mind that will serve them well in life as well as in school. This situation will require resiliency, flexibility, independence, and patience, and students will become more proficient at navigating online learning, which will surely become even more necessary in professional settings. Once we return to campus, be it later this school year or next fall, teachers and departments will make certain to connect their next lessons and courses with the online work students complete this spring.
Currently, your students will earn number grades for the fourth marking period as they would normally. This quarter, teachers will focus most on formative assessments and student engagement. We will continue to assess how the grading is going throughout this quarter and adjust appropriately. Additionally, we will be flexible around deadlines, understanding that there may be technical challenges or work set-up challenges that might interfere with a student’s ability to hand in work easily. That said, teachers will be contacting you if they see patterns of tardiness or if an assignment is very late.
We feel so much empathy for our seniors as these postponements and disruptions have a greater impact on them; please be assured that we are continuing to think about what to do and when to hold important events for them, perhaps most crucially commencement. As we learn more about what the future holds, we will communicate directly with seniors and their families about our decisions about the many events that we all hold dear and which are woven into the fabric of Academy life. Seniors have already received a letter about the ways that we have modified senior projects to continue in a different form despite the current pandemic.
Please access our school calendar for the month of April to see some of the changes to the original calendar. We will not have a late start day, for example, on April 28, but April 24 will still be a day off from school. Watch for more changes to the calendar after spring break, as we further identify which events will be postponed, canceled, or moved to an online format.
Your students will hear from their division heads on Wednesday, April 1 with detailed descriptions of what they can expect as online learners. We will copy parents on the letters so you may partner with your students as they prepare for the first days back. We will be outlining expectations around attendance, seeking help from teachers, online etiquette, and the like.
We so appreciate the many notes of support and appreciation that we have received from parents. There is nothing more motivating to us than the sense of our whole community pulling together as we navigate these tumultuous waters and an unknown near future. We will do our best to educate your children and to help them continue to create, think, experiment, improve their skills, and find joy in learning in this online setting.
Associate Head of School
I’ve been thinking of all of you, and all those who work at the Academy, as our broken spring break continues. The COVID-19 pandemic presents both health and financial challenges, and we all have work to do to overcome them, and to support one other. As the Academy leadership maneuvers through the full range of topics we need to address, I need to let you know where things stand with the closure of campus and the move to online learning.
We learned today that the Public Education Department (PED), in consultation with the governor’s office and health officials, has extended the closure of their on-site schools through the remainder of the school year.
This decision makes sense, given the danger to so many New Mexicans if we don’t slow the spread of COVID-19. We, too, will extend our campus closure and continue with online learning for the foreseeable future. Our reason for not making an immediate decision about the rest of the school year is that there is at least a slight possibility that the tide will turn and physical distancing requirements will be lifted at some point this spring. We want to hold out for the possibility that our activities and learning might move back to campus between now and the end of the academic year. This chance seems slight, but if it’s possible, we don’t want to rule out a return. Obviously, emerging information could cause us to close campus for the rest of the year, and there will come a point when waiting no longer makes sense. We will monitor closely and be in touch regularly.
Watch for a comprehensive message on Tuesday about our online learning model. To refine our work and learn from each other, we will survey students, families, and teachers on a regular basis until we return to campus.
While we adapt the way we teach and learn, we will also take care to stay in touch and maintain our sense of community. I’ll be doing my part when we return from spring break on April 2, joined by our division heads, deans, teachers, and students as we connect in ways that go beyond our academic work.
My sentiment remains the same, and I suspect that you share it as well: There is no community I would rather be in than ours amidst this challenge. So…
Gimme an A: A. Gimme another A: A. What’s that spell?
AAhed rather be back on campus with you guys.
Hang in there, Chargers! Stay healthy, and care for others through your physical distancing. I look forward to how we will “light the way” in a new and different way in the weeks to come.
Head of School
Today’s message is brief — and I really do expect the pace of messaging to slow during spring break, but we will continue to pass along news that is important to you.
News About AP Exams
This morning, the College Board announced that AP exams will not cover certain parts of the curriculum, as teachers are not expected to be able to get through as much material. They are also developing at-home test options and intend to offer two test dates, so students may opt to take exams while content is still fresh or have extra time to prepare. AP students will receive further information from their teachers. You may read the full announcement from the College Board here.
The Office of the Governor would like everyone to be aware that scammers have been calling people in the community, posing as the Department of Health to steal social security numbers and other personal information. The DOH will never ask for this information by phone or email. Please be cautious.
Community Health Tracking
School Nurse Shelby Parsons is maintaining a confidential health log to track community members who are quarantined after coming into contact with positive cases or are otherwise self-isolating. There continue to be no positive cases in the Academy community. You may check our COVID-19 page for updates about the school’s health status. Please contact Ms. Parsons directly if your status changes.
That’s all for now. Be well, and enjoy your family time this weekend!
Head of School
No matter where you are reading this — here in Albuquerque, in another state, or outside the U.S., at home or in your office — I’m certain your life has been greatly altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. For those of you not receiving the updates we’ve been sending our parents, let me bring you up to date on the impact to our students and our plans for going forward.
On Wednesday, March 11, the first cases of COVID-19 in New Mexico were announced, and within a few hours, we learned that a member of the community had had direct contact with one of those initial cases. (We were greatly relieved to learn earlier this week that this person tested negative for the virus.) Based on that information, we decided to take the proactive step to close campus, effective Thursday, March 12, and launch our plan for online learning. The next day, the governor ordered all public schools to close March 16-April 6, and other independent schools followed suit.
Academy students had a two-day break, March 12 and 13, while our faculty, building on lessons they had started earlier through the Global Online Academy, worked hard to convert their lessons and practice new technology; on Monday, March 16, asynchronous online learning was underway. There will be bumps in the road, but I think there is no better place for a student to be at the moment than in our community of caring and creative adults.
This four-day week, with spring break starting today, was an excellent test run. Teachers assigned work to be done on students’ own time and were available for office hours through Zoom, and advisers met online with their advisees. Learning moved forward.
To align with the public school closure, the Academy will come back from spring break for at least two days of online learning. If we continue online April 6 and beyond, as I expect we might, we’ll introduce online learning class schedules to bring more routine to our days.
You can read all of the COVID-19 Academy-related news here, and a special landing page about online learning is in the works. Although we took a break from social media following the closure of campus, we’ll be back after spring break, and we invite you to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what’s happening in our virtual classrooms. It takes extra effort right now to maintain a sense of community, and we invite you to be involved in ours.
On a related note, I encourage all of us to support our small businesses as much as we can. If you run a small Albuquerque business impacted by current events, send us your details and we will include you in a list of Academy-connected businesses on our website.
While our primary focus is on supporting current students and families, we know that the lives of our alumni have changed as well. We hope you are well and taking care of yourself and your families. We all have a lot to cope with and adapt to at the moment, and we will all get a bit stir crazy soon as we retreat to our homes. Here’s a suggestion: Take advantage of this break from the normal to call up an Academy friend you haven’t heard from in a while. Maybe even go “old school” and write a note to a friend or a former teacher! At times like this, old ties still bind and provide us all with support.
Wherever things go from here, we are stronger in the connections we have with one other and with our school. Thank you for your continued support.
Be well, Chargers!
Head of School
Let me start today’s letter by recognizing something I know all of us are feeling. Healthcare workers are doing heroic work in the midst of this pandemic, under stressful conditions I can’t imagine, conditions that could become worse as time goes by. Many of our local healthcare workers are Academy parents and alumni; we want to thank you and urge you to stay strong in the days and weeks ahead. When things settle down, we will find a moment on campus to honor and thank you for the life-saving work you are doing, along with the hope you instill in your patients and in the community. This could be the most important work you will ever do in your careers.
I’m also thinking of the small business owners in our parent and alumni body, worried about your employees and wondering when things will normalize. As we applaud efforts to support small businesses coming from local, state, and federal sources, let’s remember all of the fine small businesses run by our Academy friends and neighbors. To help with this, here is an offer: If you run a small business impacted by current events, send us your details and we will include you in a list of Academy-connected businesses on our website.
Yesterday, I mentioned that I would be writing with some community norms that will help us adapt to changes underway in how we work. Let’s start with just a few:
Breaks from Email: We are communicating at a rapid pace through email, especially in this first week since we closed school. Let’s aim for sending these emails during the workday — 8 a.m to 5 p.m. — and then understand, if our message is sent late in the day, that we might not receive an answer until the following day. On the receiving end of this, I will be encouraging all Academy employees to reply to questions sent by email on a workday within a 24-hour period. All this changes if there is an emergency, but I suspect that 99.9% of our communications will do fine within these guidelines.
Limited Screen Time: We will be encouraging our teachers to use Zoom and other tools as they work with their students, but discourage the practice of asking students to sit in front of their computer screens all day long. The online teaching schedule we employ after spring break should assist with this. We will also start a pattern of surveying students, parents, and teachers about how things are going if our shift to online teaching continues beyond the currently scheduled return date of April 6. As wary as I am about making predictions, I suspect we won’t be back on campus by then. Speaking of computer screens: I confess that my own self-care when it comes to getting up, moving around, and exercising has taken a hit over the past week or so. That has to stop, for all of us. I admire all of you who not only get this, but actually act upon it!
An Unusual Spring Break: This will be a different spring break for us all, with so many plans canceled and a different reality around the city. However, as usual, no homework will be assigned over spring break. While we will continue to stay in touch when necessary, especially if there is breaking news, we will soon slow the pace of our communications. Then, as we approach April 2, you will receive more information about the second phase of our online academic plans.
The Importance of Social Distancing: Watching the governor’s press conference yesterday, I shared her concerns about New Mexicans who continue to gather in groups larger than just a few people. I’m afraid we are headed to a complete quarantine if this doesn’t stop. Unfortunately, I’ve heard from concerned Academy families that some of our students and families aren’t taking this as seriously as they should. Please, social distance now to save lives later and to hasten the time when we can be together again on campus.
Finally, the news today is that we still haven’t heard of any Academy community members infected by the virus. If an infection occurs and we hear about it, I will be in touch.
You might have heard from your students that I’ve been communicating with them about the other five times in my life when everyone seemed to be focusing on one thing, all at once. I challenged them to see if they could name these five moments. Their answers were amazing, some better than my own. I was so proud to see their curiosity and their knowledge about the world on display. (Though I want to point out that, contrary to two or three guesses, I wasn’t alive during the Great Depression or World War II — sheesh, I’m not that old.)
I know that my list is idiosyncratic, but here it is:
- The assassination of President Kennedy
- Apollo 11’s trip to the moon, and those first steps by Neal Armstrong
- The Y2K transition from 1999 to 2000 (even though the first year of the new millennium was really 2001)
- OJ Simpson’s slow ride through LA, and then the day the verdict came down
Take it easy on me if you don’t think Y2K or OJ merit inclusion, but truly those moments seemed to occupy everyone’s attention when they occured, just as this COVID-19 moment will be remembered by us all for the rest of our lives. I’m optimistic that we will remember this moment due to the resilience of humankind, the heroic work of those solving the problem and aiding others, and, for me, the way the Academy community stuck together throughout the challenge.
Head of School
Asynchronous online learning is underway, and I hope you have been as excited as I am about getting back to some sense of normal life. We’ll only be trying this for a few days before we head into spring break, but by then we’ll have the practice we need to come back for online learning based around a class schedule that will include both synchronous and asynchronous learning. Academy teachers are steadily working and learning as we make this shift, and we will all know more each day during this time of growth for everyone. There will be more to come about the plans for our first two days of school following spring break; at that time, we hope to have a better idea of how school will proceed from there.
We learned this morning that the community member who had been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 has tested negative. This is great news for the community member and the overall community as we continue, to this point, to have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 related to our campus.
Of course, this could change. We ask all community members to please let us know if you test positive for COVID-19. If someone in our community — a student, faculty member or staff, or a parent — is ill, it concerns all of us. As with any illness, we will provide academic support to students as best we can, and in line with the severity of the illness. In the case of infection within the community, we would follow the lead of colleges and universities by sharing high-level, non-identifying information, if it is your preference to not share more details, while health officials proceed with their protocols to prevent and track community transmission.
According to the New Mexico Department of Health website, New Mexico had 23 positive cases as of this morning. The Centers for Disease Control has updated its website with information that may be able to answer our many questions about the virus and provide directives for how to proceed.
Adapting to the New Normal
I’ve observed that many of our teachers and administrators are working around the clock at the moment, preparing classes, creating policy, and answering questions from community members. This pace is appropriate here at the start of our transition to online learning but won’t work indefinitely.
In the coming days, we will be establishing community norms to provide needed downtime for our faculty, staff, and administrators in support of their health and ability to be their best. Similarly, we will survey students about their online learning experience after spring break, especially if it becomes apparent that we will continue classes online beyond April 6. We need to find the balance that works for all of our community members.
I’m writing this message from home, as we have instituted a hard close on campus that begins at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 18. The only personnel allowed on campus will be those needed to secure the space and those working outdoors. This will continue for two weeks and possibly longer, if warranted. The combination of this hard close and the deep cleaning we performed over the weekend will help prepare us to reopen the campus when that is possible.
Thanks again to everyone working to keep our community together and to create a reasonable and robust academic path for students. Embarking on this experience together goes well beyond the learning that will take place in our online classes, strengthening us all for the future.
Head of School
During this time of unprecedented closures, we are experiencing varying degrees of stress and uncertainty. Despite the recognition that school closure and avoiding large group activities are the best thing to do, we as human beings are hard-wired for connection and certainty, and right now both of these are being tested.
Feeling stressed is a normal reaction. You have a community that will go through this with you. Students, you are a generation that knows how to connect, so use those apps to talk to friends and family; talk to each other. We encourage you to stay connected to your family heads, advisers, teachers, and division heads.
Reach out to your counselors if you are feeling isolated; please email or call us. We are a resource for you, whether we have previously met or not. We are available to talk to you on the phone, over text, by email, or via Zoom. If you find yourself or someone else in need of additional help, we can get you connected to the appropriate resources.
A few ways to manage uncertainty in and disruption to routine is to take time each day to focus on things we can do. We have a chance to experiment with a new routine for health and wellness. Maybe that’s downloading an exercise app, creating a group chat, walking the dog a couple more times a day, pulling out a dusty board game to play, reading a book on your list, or making a favorite food.
The counselors will be checking emails and scheduling time to meet over Zoom or by phone during school hours. If you find you’re struggling in any way, we want you to know there is always help available 24/7. You can connect with the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741 or calling (800) 273-TALK.
During this time of challenge, we are fortunate to be a part of a community that is here to support us and continues to pave the way for the greater Albuquerque area in making critical decisions. We look forward to the opportunity to work with you all, so please reach out to us.
We are in this together!
Ms. Dragone, Mr. Marcus, Dr. Soisson, Dr. Tanner, and Mr. Torrez
Albuquerque Academy Counseling and Human Development Department
Counselor Contact Information
It was great seeing so many of you here on campus today, working in concert with our deans, division heads, and others in gathering materials for the weeks ahead. It is clear that we are in this together, including the shared feeling of oddness as normal life shuts down for a few weeks, and perhaps beyond.
Thank you for your careful reading of the many messages we have sent about the COVID-19 event, and the reading and communicating yet to come. There were so many details in these messages, and I can tell that you read them with as much care as they were written by our team.
There will be more details to come, for sure, but I would like to come back to two important overall topics in this note: social distancing and our communications about the overall health of our community.
In a note I recently sent to our students, I said the following about COVID-19 and social distancing:
You’ve probably read a lot about COVID-19 by now, and you should stay on top of the news. One of the apparent data points at the moment is that young people generally aren’t as badly impacted by the virus when infected. I have a feeling that this might lead you to conduct the rest of your life fairly normally in the days and weeks ahead. But here’s the thing: you have classmates and friends who have suppressed immune systems, and almost everyone in our community has friends and family members whose age or health make them more susceptible to the virus. This means that your actions can’t just be about yourself. Social distancing, avoiding large crowds, washing hands? These are gifts to those we all love, those more at risk. Let this guide you.
I want to re-emphasize this for all of our families and urge you not to gather in groups larger than a few people in the weeks ahead. The urge to be together in uncertain times is powerful. The urge to hug our friends and pat students on the back is as well. It is ironic that we have to fight this group and individual communal instinct on behalf of the community.
The Health of the Academy Community
In an early message, I mentioned that one of our community members had been in contact with someone infected by the virus. Since then, at least three community members exhibited symptoms that led them to get tested. Fortunately, none of these community members has tested positive for the virus and, in all cases, they proceeded appropriately with self-isolation measures. Others in the community have also put themselves in self-isolation, out of caution, because they have been together with friends and family members who have been out of state in areas of high infection. I feel fortunate to be among such caring and thoughtful community members at this challenging time.
The most frequent question I’ve been asked along the way is the identity, or identifiable details, of community members who might have been exposed to the virus. I get this completely. I think it is completely justifiable to consider whether privacy protections are possibly outweighed by the general good in the case of a pandemic, and perhaps some clues (student or adult on campus, where on campus, when on campus) should be offered.
But here is the thing: as many of us have made our way to grocery stores and other public places, there is a high probability that this has taken us at least as close to the virus as our time on campus. I’m just assuming that I’ve been in the presence of someone carrying the virus or one step away from the virus over the past week or so. Our social distancing, avoidance of groups, and personal hygiene should be informed by this.
There might come a point when we do, indeed, discover that we have a community member with the virus. I will alert you to this fact if it occurs, without identifying details, and then we will all count on authorities conferring with the infected person in order to alert those who have been in contact with him or her to go to self-isolation and take all necessary precautions. I assume, in many cases, that an infected community member would take it upon himself or herself to alert those who have been in closest contact.
I hope none of this will be necessary but, as we’ve discussed from the beginning, we have to prepare for the worst as we hope for the best.
Thanks again for helping us make this transition to a new, I hope temporary, reality for our school and country. I am as proud of the Academy community as I have ever been.
Andrew T. Watson
Head of School
This is a reminder that students and parents may come to campus TODAY to pick up the things they need to continue their classes and other personal items. If you are sick, do not come to school. Please send a parent instead.
Please enter through the Wyoming gate and follow this schedule to avoid large crowds, as recommended by the governor.
- Noon-1 p.m. Last names A-F
- 1-2 p.m. Last names G-L
- 2-3 p.m. Last names M-R
- 3-4 p.m. Last names S-Z
If these times do not work for your family, you may stop by campus 7:30-8:30 a.m. on Monday.
Division heads, deans of students, grade deans, and other faculty will be on hand to monitor spacing and otherwise provide assistance. Classroom and administration buildings will be OPEN so students can go to their lockers, pick up musical instruments, and get supplies from the bookstores. If you have medication in the nurse’s office, your parent will be able to get that as well. There will be NO ACCESS to gyms, dining halls, the natatorium, and the library.
If you need a state textbook, please contact your teacher, and we’ll arrange a pickup at the Wyoming gate later in the week.
Students who need a Chromebook and/or mobile hotspot must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. You may pick them up in the Multipurpose Room on west campus during this time.
Head of School
Yesterday the state took a significant step toward containing the spread of COVID-19 in New Mexico by requiring all public schools to take a three-week spring break March 16-April 6. It looks like many private schools will do the same. What does this mean for the Academy’s plans and the return from our spring break?
We will continue with the educational plan outlined yesterday. Routine and purpose will help all of us better manage the restrictions being implemented, and we are fortunate that the Academy is better positioned than many schools to continue educating our students through online learning. In short, school is in session, from home and online, March 16-19. (One change from yesterday’s plans: In the best interest of our faculty, they will train and prepare lessons online next week rather than returning to campus to collaborate.)
Classes will resume ONLINE for April 2 and 3 so our students will not be back on campus before the end of the public schools closure. The administration will continue to monitor the guidelines issued by health officials and the direct impacts on our community throughout spring break. In late March, we will share the decision about how to proceed with classes beginning April 6.
On SUNDAY, March 15, students may pick up the things they need to continue their classes and other personal items. Please come to campus according to the following schedule to avoid large crowds, as recommended by the governor.
- Noon-1 p.m. Last names A-F
- 1-2 p.m. Last names G-L
- 2-3 p.m. Last names M-R
- 3-4 p.m. Last names S-Z
If these times do not work for your family, you may stop by campus 7:30-8:30 a.m. on Monday.
Division heads, deans of students, and grade deans will be in the buildings to assist. Classroom and administration buildings will be OPEN so students can go to their lockers, pick up musical instruments, and get supplies from the bookstores. There will be NO ACCESS to gyms, dining halls, the natatorium, and the library.
Students who need them can pick up a Chromebook and/or mobile hotspot in the 6-7 administration building during this time.
More News Based on NMDOH and State Government Recommendations
- NMDOH has expanded its list of travel destinations that will require travelers to self-quarantine to include Seattle, Portland, New York City, and San Francisco; it also recommends a 14-day self-isolation for anyone who travels outside the state. If you are still considering a spring break trip, keep in mind that this recommendation would impact your ability to return to campus if we reopen on April 6.
- Following the governor’s instructions to suspend large group events, the SAT scheduled for March 14 has been canceled. We know students registered for this test have received many messages recently about the changing situation, and they will continue to be notified as the College Board decides how to proceed.
Thank you for continuing to watch your email and check our COVID-19 information page for updates as they become available.
Head of School
I have heard from many of you in response to yesterday’s announcement regarding the end of in-person classes at least through spring break. It is time for me to take a break from sending individual replies so that I can bring the entire community up to date with the latest news and plans.
First, let me note that the school is your source for Academy-related COVID-19 information. On our COVID-19 information page, you will find all of the emails we have sent to the community as well as a list of FAQs specific to Albuquerque Academy. For general information about COVID-19, please refer to WHO, the CDC, and the New Mexico Department of Health. For specific medical questions and information, contact your student’s primary care physician. If you think you have been exposed to the virus, call the NMDOH Coronavirus Hotline at (855) 600-3453.
Now I will address some of the many questions you probably have.
CONTACT WITH COVID-19
What else can you tell us about the Academy community member who was exposed to someone who tested positive to COVID-19?
Due to protected health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), we cannot provide identifying or additional information.
Should my student self-quarantine? How will I know if stricter measures need to be taken?
Students do not need to self-quarantine, but as the governor recommended yesterday when announcing the first cases of COVID-19 in New Mexico, it is wise to practice social distancing and avoid public gatherings during this time. Please make smart decisions about where you choose to go and what events you attend, and continue washing your hands thoroughly and following other recommended hygiene practices.
The New Mexico Department of Health handles next steps regarding quarantines; this is out of the Academy’s hands.
My child is sick. What should I do?
Although there have been no known positive COVID-19 individuals on campus, call the NMDOH Coronavirus Hotline at (855) 600-3453 if you have concerns about exposure. Please continue to follow medical advice from your provider, and consider tele-health options if offered by your health insurance. It continues to be very important that you and your family members stay home when sick.
TRANSITION TO ONLINE CLASSES
When can my student return to campus to pick up their things?
Following the deep clean of campus, students will be able to get what they need from their lockers and pick up any necessary supplies from the bookstore. We hope this can be done during a three-hour window of time Monday morning. Division heads, grade deans, and deans of students will be on hand to help and to monitor social distancing. Please watch your email for further instructions.
What should my student be doing right now for their classes?
Please have your student continue with assignments that they can tackle from home with the materials and tools they have on hand. Deadlines will be flexible, and nobody will be penalized for missed homework and assignments. If your student has not already heard from their teachers, they can expect a message soon. Next week, students will receive assignments for Monday through Thursday to be completed on their own time, not on a set class schedule.
What is the online learning plan?
Following the deep cleaning, faculty will return to campus for online teaching training and curriculum planning with their departments and divisions, so they will be fully prepared to teach classes online, if necessary, after spring break. Further decisions and details, such as the daily schedule, which will differ from the normal school schedule, will be communicated at the end of spring break.
How can 6-7 students without access to computers do some of their work? What if my student does not have access to the internet?
Students in the 6-7 division who do not have access to the technology tools they need may borrow Chromebooks and mobile hotspots from the school. We expect those items to be ready for pickup on Tuesday; we will send further details to the 6-7 division by email. Our older students have laptops per our 1:1 program. If your family needs a mobile hotspot, please contact the technology department at 828-3249.
STUDENT SUPPORT AND ACTIVITIES
Are counselors available to students?
Yes, our counselors can be reached by email and phone, and they may choose to meet with students by video chat. Advisers and family heads are also available for support and will be reaching out to their students.
Does my student-athlete have practice?
Until further notice, all athletics — games and practices — are canceled. Students are being encouraged to work out on their own in many cases. There are to be no group workouts. Coaches will be in touch with their athletes to provide guidance.
My student is registered for Saturday’s SAT. What is happening?
The SAT on March 14 at Albuquerque Academy is in the process of being relocated to Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School at 7801 Jefferson Street NE. Once the College Board formally makes this change, it will be notifying affected students.
If I have changed my travel plans, should I submit another form?
Yes, please share your updated plans with us here. And thank you for adapting your plans to better protect your family and our community.
These FAQs have been added to our webpage, and the list will continue to grow. New questions and answers will be marked as such. Now more than ever, the personal touch is critical, and while I am happy to discuss individual concerns, please check the webpage before sending general questions to your student’s administrators and teachers so they can spend more time planning for online learning.
Now that the difficult decision to close campus has been made, it is our intention to make sure the days before spring break are used in the most productive way to prepare for whatever might come next.
Thank you for your support.
Andrew T. Watson
Head of School
We’ve just become aware that an Academy community member was in close contact with one of the people in New Mexico infected with COVID-19.There is no evidence that this community member has contracted the virus. Still, this information is enough to make the decision to close campus to students and cease all activities, effective immediately.
Beginning Thursday, March 12, in-person classes are ended through at least the start of spring break on March 20. We will send a follow-up email with details about the continuation of academic work soon.
Once we close, out of an abundance of caution, we will perform a professional deep clean throughout campus, and then we will announce a window for students to come back to campus to pick up any materials they need to work from home.
As always, our top priority is the safety of our students and our community. Thank you for your understanding.
Andrew T. Watson
Head of School
As more schools and universities announce the move to online classes in response to the risk of COVID-19, the Academy continues to monitor the situation locally and around the world while making plans to best protect our school community.
Please watch my message on this page regarding the Academy’s responsibilities to the school and the broader community.
We’ve also added a list of frequently asked questions and answers below. We will continue to add to and update the information on this page to help the community stay informed of Academy-specific news.
With spring break fast approaching, we understand that many families and faculty/staff have personal travel plans. If you will travel outside of New Mexico during break, please share your plans here so we are able to better assist members of the community as they return to school.
Thank you for your continued support,
Andrew T. Watson
Head of School
The health and safety of our community is a top priority at Albuquerque Academy. This is our third communication to parents about COVID-19 this week, with more, certainly, to come. As we continue to refine our plans for protecting the health of our students, their families, and our faculty and staff, we’d like to share this additional information.
What steps are we taking on campus to reduce risk of illness?
- Educating the community about proactive hygiene practices
- Installing 70 additional hand sanitizer stations around campus
- Increasing the cleaning of surfaces in classrooms and common areas
- Urging faculty, staff, and students to stay home when experiencing symptoms of the flu or any other illness
- Reviewing extra measures that could be enacted, including those related to food service
How will we determine if the Academy should be closed?
If the New Mexico Department of Health or another government or health organization requires closure, the Academy will, of course, comply. There could also be situations specific to our school community that lead to the decision to close campus, even if there has not been a city- or state-wide mandate.
What will happen if the Academy campus is closed?
A school closure would be announced through the same channels we use for weather closures — primarily on the website and by text and email.
The school’s plans for continuing to educate students may vary based on the expected length of the closure. In the case of a short-term closure, we would conduct a deep cleaning and continually reassess the situation.
In the case of a longer campus closure, we have asked faculty members to prepare to teach their classes online by taking a course on distance learning through the Global Online Academy. At the same time, we are working on access to technology for all students, which would include providing Chromebooks and mobile hotspots to families that need them. Meanwhile, families with students in younger grades should think about childcare arrangements in case their work obligations are unchanged.
As long as we would not be in violation of government mandates, limited staff would remain on campus to ensure we maintain necessary operations.
Additional Information About Travel
In our message to the community on March 4, we asked that you stay informed of the latest state and federal recommendations regarding travel, particularly with spring break at the end of the month. Currently, the CDC has limited nonessential travel to some countries, and the State of New Mexico is requiring a self-quarantine for travelers arriving from China, South Korea, Iran, and Italy. Anyone traveling to a country or region identified by health agencies as a significant threat for transmission — a list that currently includes those four countries but is likely to grow — would be subject to self-quarantine; currently, a 14-day quarantine is required. Travelers returning from these areas must call the NMDOH epidemiology hotline at (505) 827-0006.
We are also entering the season of competitions, festivals, and other gatherings for a number of our student groups. Just yesterday, the 2020 ISAS Arts Festival, which was to be held in early April in Tulsa, was canceled. Decisions about participation, particularly for any activities that involve long-distance travel, will be based primarily on the recommendations of health agencies; we are also in contact with the hosting organizations to learn about their intentions and, in the end, may simply need to make a decision about attendance that is best for our students.
Outbreak Management and Support
These measures are not intended to be effective in eliminating the virus. Rather, we are cooperating with the community’s efforts to slow its spread should an outbreak occur close to home.
We understand that the uncertainty of the COVID-19 virus may cause alarm even under the best of circumstances. Families may wish to refer to this information from the National Association of School Nurses about discussing this topic together.
Thank you for your attention and support.
Andrew T. Watson
Head of School
In Monday’s email, we noted that school-sponsored spring break trips abroad have been canceled. Now I would like to address the question of family spring break travel, both internationally and within the U.S.
First and foremost, please stay apprised of the latest state and federal recommendations regarding travel. Currently, the CDC has limited nonessential travel to some countries, and the State of New Mexico is requiring a self-quarantine for travelers arriving from China, South Korea, Iran, and Italy. Beyond that, please refer to your personal care provider for advice about medical conditions and travel. We also ask that you weigh the pros and cons in determining if you should go forward with spring break travel plans and consider how your family and the community might be impacted if there is an outbreak in a region you are visiting.
Thank you for your attention and consideration.
Andrew T. Watson
Head of School
With the severity of the influenza season and outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19), we want to reassure our community that Albuquerque Academy has been closely monitoring this evolving and fluid situation to ensure community safety and health. We are monitoring this situation with communication and guidance from the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Health officials believe the risk to our school community is low at this time. To date, NMDOH has monitored about 30 travelers returning from China, and none have developed symptoms of COVID-19. There have been no documented confirmed cases in New Mexico. As the CDC has affirmed, there is not currently a coronavirus pandemic in the United States. A pandemic occurs when a disease is spreading across a large region, and the number of cases across the U.S. is still low. While we are still learning about COVID-19, it has been evaluated to have a high recovery rate. Older adults, those with compromised immune systems, and people with chronic medical conditions may be at increased risk for severe disease.
Signs and symptoms of the COVID-19 infection include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. The influenza also presents with similar symptoms but is caused by a different virus. According to the DOH, influenza is currently widespread in New Mexico and most of the United States. The DOH also asserts that the influenza remains a higher risk to our community.
What you should do to stay healthy and prevent disease:
- CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China, Iran, South Korea, and Italy. Other destinations with risk of community spread of COVID-19 include Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand.
- The NMDOH continues to ask all persons returning from travel to these areas to call their 24/7/365 “Epidemiology Hotline” at (505) 827-0006 for guidance on how to protect yourself and your community from the novel coronavirus.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick. Academy faculty are prepared to help support students who have been out of school due to illness. Students need to stay home and will be sent home from our health office with the following conditions:
- Active vomiting or diarrhea – need to stay home 24 hours symptom-free
- Fever/chills/generalized body aches – need to stay home 24 hours fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medications
- The first 24 hours of various antibiotic treatments (e.g. strep throat, pink eye, etc.)
- Undiagnosed, new, and/or untreated rash or skin condition until treated
- Cough into elbows, or tissue if using hands and throw tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- The use of face masks for general prevention is not recommended, unless directed by a healthcare provider. Recommendations state that proper hand-washing technique provides better protection from infectious diseases.
What we have done:
- Canceled our two spring break exchange trips to Ecuador and Germany, both places where there are confirmed cases of the virus
- Fostered ongoing communication and collaboration with our Department of Health liaison regarding metro- and statewide disease trends and prevention
- Displayed new CDC posters around campus regarding respiratory hygiene technique and promoting hand washing
- Will be installing more than 70 new hand sanitizer dispensing units
We also want to take this opportunity to remind everyone that Albuquerque Academy is committed to protecting every person’s rights. Programs, activities, practices, and employment shall be free from discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying based on race, color, ancestry, national origin, immigration status, ethnic group identification, or where they have traveled.
We will continue to communicate updates, as necessary, for the safety and well-being of our community.