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New Mexico Sports

‘It’s not safe’: Missing air filters prevent Centennial High athletes in Las Cruces from practicing indoors

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- On top of having their classes entirely online and their sports seasons delayed, Centennial High School athletes can't practice indoors because of a missing air filtration system.

"I wouldn’t say that they don’t understand, but I feel like they don’t really know the work that players put into playing," said Dalton Washam, a senior who plays varsity football.

Because of the missing filter, Washam told ABC-7 that Centennial players must lift weights outside, even in inclement weather. It has added to his frustration of not being able to play a single game in 2020.

“I’ve been looking forward to my senior year since freshman year," Washam said.

The senior's parents invested thousands of dollars into his training, hoping their son can attract the attention of college recruiters.

“He was at the peak of his physical shape," said his father, Michael. “At one point, we actually thought about trying to sell our home and move to El Paso. That’s how bad it is.”

“The problem that we’re running into is that filter hasn’t even been manufactured yet," said Kelly Jameson, a spokeswoman for Las Cruces Public Schools.

Jameson told ABC-7 that Centennial High requires a MERV 13 air filter, which is on backorder from Pamlico Air. She said the other, older schools in the district require MERV 9 air filters, which have been delivered.

“They’re supposed to be there for the students, but obviously, they’ve taken a political stance not to," Michael Washam said.

“It is not a political position," Jameson said. "This is something that the Public Education Department requires that we have.”

“I never in the world dreamed that somebody would be making decision other than me on what’s best for my child," said Kim Frost, whose daughter Kelsey plays on the varsity basketball team.

Frost told ABC-7 that Kelsey and her teammates must practice at Vista Middle School until the new filter arrives.

“I’ll get in my car and I’ll go get the air filters!" Frost said. Tell me where there might be some."

“I understand that it’s frustrating and that answers aren’t coming as quickly as some parents would like, but again, the safety of everyone inside the building is our priority," Jameson said. "If it’s not safe, it’s not going to happen."

Education / High School Sports / New Mexico / News / Sports / Video

Kate Bieri

Kate Bieri is ABC-7’s New Mexico Mobile Newsroom reporter and co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend evening newscasts.

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