Las Cruces charter schools: Where do they stand on hybrid learning?

Miranda Cyr
Las Cruces Sun-News
Near the front entrance to La Academia Dolores Huerta at 400 W. Bell Avenue in Las Cruces, Monday, March 2, 2020.

LAS CRUCES – Charter schools in Las Cruces can now decide whether to begin in-person, hybrid learning or remain online for the semester.

These schools have been in remote learning since March 2020 after New Mexico schools were shut down in order to mitigate the spread of SARS CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Since September, charter schools were bound by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's order that required schools stay remote until their county went into Green, according to the Red-to-Green framework. Because Doña Ana County was in Red until February, schools had no choice but to remain online.

Related:Las Cruces high schools begin hybrid learning

After Lujan Grisham lifted that requirement on Feb. 8, charter schools were able to make their own decisions.

The five charter schools in the Las Cruces area have taken different approaches to the semester in order to fit the specific needs of their students.

Dolores Huerta returns March 1

La Academia Dolores Huerta will begin hybrid learning on March 1.

Sylvy Galvan de Lucero, head administrator, said that out of the 74 students enrolled, about eight will remain online only while the rest prepare their transition to hybrid.

The dual-language charter school serves students from sixth through eighth grades.

Sixth and seventh grades will be in cohort A, as they make up just about half of the student population, according to Galvan de Lucero, and will be coming in on Mondays and Tuesdays. Eighth-grade students will come in on Thursdays and Fridays as cohort B.

In-person days are from 8:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Remote learning will be from noon to 3:30 p.m., and will focus on electives.

Education:Hatch to transition high school to hybrid learning, followed by middle and elementary schools

Galvan de Lucero said students will remain in one classroom in groups of 8 to 10 while teachers rotate between rooms every 45 minutes to teach the different subjects. La Academia Dolores Huerta calls these cohorts "teams."

"(I hope this brings) a little bit of normalcy, getting a chance to get out of the house, even though there still are a lot of restrictions," Galvan de Lucero said. "You're hanging out with your team, and you're supporting each other through this whole process … The demographic that we serve, they tend to be students that were struggling in the general public school environment. So here, they get a little bit more one-on-one attention, a little bit more support, because we do have a smaller enrollment."

Galvan de Lucero said the school still has open enrollment for sixth and seventh grade. She said because of the in-person opportunities La Academia Dolores Huerta offers, it might appeal to students.

Find more information at

J. Paul Taylor Academy is pictured, located near downtown Las Cruces.

J. Paul Taylor Academy transitions to hybrid

J. Paul Taylor Academy, which serves students from kindergarten to eighth grade, began hybrid learning on Monday for its youngest students.

Eric Ahner, the school's executive director, said the school will be transitioning more grade levels to hybrid instruction every week. Kindergarten, first and second grade began instruction on Feb. 22, fifth grade will begin on March 1, and sixth, seventh and eighth is set to begin on March 8.

For third and fourth grade, a return hasn't been scheduled. Ahner explained that due to the academy's small enrollment of 200 students, each teacher is responsible for an entire grade level, putting all the weight of return onto one teacher.

Ahner said that while these problems may not be as big a deal for larger districts, it's a challenge for the charter school.

"Any unique needs that we have in a grade level, that responsibility falls back on our teacher, so it's hard to handle," Ahner said. "Because we have such a small staff, that single teacher is responsible for hybrid four days a week for two different cohorts and for overseeing the kids who stay 100% online."

About 25 percent of students have chosen to remain online for the semester.

Ahner said he doesn't expect full reentry by the end of the year, but he hopes that all grade levels will be able to return eventually.

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New America School - Las Cruces, located at 207 S. Main Street downtown. Seen on Wednesday, May 29, 2019.

New America School remains online

The New America School, which serves over 200 students in ninth through 12th grades, has decided to remain online for the spring semester.

"The staff, the teachers felt that if we return, it would disrupt what we're doing right now, and we don't want to do that." superintendent and principal Margarita Leza Porter said.

Leza Porter said that only about 35 percent of students expressed interest in a hybrid learning model, and with the average attendance rate of 66 percent daily, she said they felt it was best to stick with remote learning until the summer.

Related:Gadsden to adopt tentative hybrid transition timeline

She said she and her staff have been pleased with the results of online learning at the school. The New America School runs on synchronous instruction, meaning students are getting live instruction from their teachers throughout the hours of what would be a normal school day.

 "Our students are doing well," Leza Porter said. "They're getting used to the remote learning. We don't want to mess that up for families."

According to Leza Porter, 95 percent of New America School's staff has received the COVID-19 vaccine, and that this decision was made with student's best interest in mind.

The New America School will be discussing options for summer school and what the fall semester will look like in the future.

Leza Porter added that about 40 students are set to graduate in May, so the school will be evaluating what they can do to celebrate its students in a safe way.

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Alma d'Arte stays remote

Alma d'Arte will remain in the remote learning model until May 28 — through the end of the spring semester.

Alma d'Arte serves students in ninth through 12th grades and integrates media, visual, performing, literary and culinary arts into its instruction.

Although the school will be looking into opportunities for small in-person learning groups, according to the school's website, students will remain online for the rest of the semester.

Find more information at

Las Montañas returns March 8

Las Montañas will begin hybrid learning on March 8 after preparing for reentry for weeks.

The charter high school serves students from ninth to 12th grades.

According to its website, Las Montañas staff reached out to every family to update them on when their students could return.

Students will be in-person two days a week for two to three hour blocks with the same cohort.

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Miranda Cyr, a Report for America corps member, can be reached at or @mirandabcyr on Twitter. Show your support for the Report for America program at