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RISD Superintendent Gottlieb: ‘We are Roswell’

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New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham gave a live-streamed press conference on Thursday, during which time she gave an update regarding COVID-19.

RISD Superintendent Mike Gottlieb

Lujan Grisham extended the Public Health Order through Aug. 28. She has already closed fall sports, citing that physical contact could potentially spread the coronavirus, along with mass gatherings.

The sports fans of Roswell and Chaves County have heard from the governor, New Mexico Activities Association Executive Director Sally Marquez and Roswell Independent School District Athletic Director Britt Cooper. The one person that has not been interviewed about sports is RISD Superintendent Mike Gottlieb.

With school scheduled to start Aug. 19, RDR Sports interviewed Gottlieb and Cooper on Tuesday. The one thing about getting an interview is that things have changed because of the pandemic. No longer is the building open for anyone to walk in. Once you arrive at the building, you must stand at the door and the receptionist will come and greet you.

The receptionist has a mask on and a clipboard to see if your name is on the list. You are instructed to have a seat while your party is called to announce your arrival. During RDR Sports’ interview, everyone in the building was wearing a mask, even at their desks.

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Once again, Cooper noted that NMAA’s Marquez wants to start sports once students are back in school, whether it is in a hybrid model or a traditional model. If schools choose to do online, they could play, as well, as long as New Mexico is back in school.

Goddard’s Kaitlyn Blakeney (11) returns a Lovington shot last season at Ground Zero. (Daily Record File Photo)

In regards to sports,” Gottlieb said, “We are looking forward to our sports programs starting up again. We are looking to get kids back to activities. We know it is limited but we are expecting all sports to play this year.”

Gottlieb noted that sports will look different this year compared to the past. This year’s sports model might have shorter seasons, but RISD is planning on kids coming back to school and being able to participate in sports and other activities.

As superintendent of the school district, Gottlieb understands the importance and value that activities and sports can have on a community and the entire school district. For some kids, it may be the reason they come to school. It may be a way for a kid to better their lives through education and playing sports.

“The real issue,” Gottlieb said, “is to have opportunities for the kids. This is an opportunity for the kids to show their skills, to show what they have. To show what they can do. Hopefully, it leads them to junior college, colleges, and whatever their desires happen to be. We are looking forward to that, and our coaches in the summertime worked really hard. We are proud of our coaches, they followed all of the guidelines and the requirements and we didn’t have any issues at all.”

Roswell’s Mercedes Velasco (3) hits the ball against Hobbs during a District 4-5A tiebreaker last season in Carlsbad. (Daily Record File Photo)

There is a busy month ahead for RISD: teachers come back Aug. 17-18. There will be a virtual parent conference on Aug. 19. On Aug. 20, it will be the district’s first remote learning. No one can come to school with the exception of some of the remote kids that may need some extra services.

Gottlieb echoed the governor that after Labor Day, elementary schools will start first. Preschool through fifth grade will be on a hybrid model or the A-B model. The hybrid model will be either Monday-Tuesday or Thursday-Friday.

The dead period for sports will be Aug. 19-Sept. 28, as of now. Fall sports will be cross country, volleyball and golf. There will also be seven and a half hours per individual because of the higher individuals per week that coaches and athletes can train.

During the dead period, coaches can only meet with their players virtually. It will go back to like it was in April and May.

“We have to worry about getting everybody to follow the mask rule,” Gottlieb said. “We have to follow our cleaning rules so that we can all (have) the kids back. Our goal is to get all of the kids back. The only way to do that is to drop our transmission rates. We want to drop them so we can get all the kids back to school safely. That’s our goal.”

Cooper and Gottlieb both have stated that to their knowledge, the district has not had any athletes test positive for the coronavirus. Both thank the coaches for following the guidelines.

With the semester ending the way it did last year, NMAA has decided to give everyone a clean slate academically. Beginning with the first semester on Aug. 19, to be eligible to play sports when the first grading period ends, anyone participating in any activities cannot have any F’s and must have a 2.0 GPA, to be eligible to play.

The district has guidelines they are just finalizing in case someone is infected. As of press time, the documents were at the RISD’s attorney’s office. RISD will have to do their own contact tracing. RISD nurses will be trained in how to do contact tracing. The state doesn’t have people to do that, so RISD will have to do it on their own. RISD will have to do their own training and look at their own forms. With the new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control that they will follow.

Gottlieb stresses that the district will work on the masks, wiping down everything, and making sure they wash their hands and have hand sanitizers, things RISD has had to order.

“Sports are very important to the community,” Gottlieb said. “Sports brings us together. That’s an important thing. We are Roswell, we are from Roswell and we represent Roswell, and the school district is a big part of that. Our kids are a huge part of that because they make the community proud. It’s not whether they win or lose, it’s how they perform. Did they represent their school and community well? That’s really the issue. I’ve been proud of our kids and coaches, that’s why we’re excited to get our kids back to school and our sports program back up and running. It makes people proud of who you are and the community you’re from and the school you represent. We are Roswell, we are the people from Roswell.”

First volleyball, cross country, and fall golf practices will start Oct. 5 and the first game will be Oct. 10.

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.