NMAA eyes Feb. 22 as target start date for high school athletics

High School Sports

LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) — Tuesday was a giant step forward towards high school athletics beginning in the state of New Mexico, something we haven’t seen since the Las Cruces boys basketball team took the floor last March in their state championship win over Capitol.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham delivered a virtual State of the State address on Tuesday and during the address, the governor announced that “every school district in the state will be able to welcome all ages of students safely back to the classroom on February 8.”

With schools resuming in-person learning, it opens the door for athletics to begin as well. Per the Public Education Department, if students return to the classroom on Feb. 8 and there is at least a hybrid model in place, the state will monitor in-person learning for two weeks. If COVID-19 numbers don’t spike during that period as a result of in-person learning, high school sports will get the green light on Feb. 22.

“It’s the beginning and now it’s where do we finish,” said New Mexico Activities Executive Director Sally Marquez. “We need to make sure we do things right so that we have a finish line. We need to mask-wear, social distance, and follow the governor’s public health orders. I would like to thank the Governor’s Office, the Public Education Department, and the Department of Health — we have been working together and it has been a long haul. It has been 10.5 months, but here we are — ready to begin safely, getting our kids back into the classroom and onto the playing field.”

The NMAA will hold an emergency board meeting where an updated calendar will be presented to the board of directors. Later this week, Marquez in expected to meet with coaches and athletic directors where the details of a return to play plan will be rolled out and implemented.

“Today is a good day,” said Marquez. “Today, with more confidence than I’ve ever had, we are going to play sports again New Mexico.

New Mexico is one of just four states in the country not currently participating in high school athletics due to the pandemic.

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