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Jeffco Public Schools cancels classes March 19 as teachers take absences for teacher day of action

DPS says it will come to decision in coming days
GALLERY: Thousands rally at Colorado Capitol on second day of teacher walkouts
Posted at 2:56 PM, Feb 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-26 18:04:45-05

DENVER – Colorado’s second-largest school district will cancel classes on March 19 because many of its teachers will be taking the day off to protest at the Colorado Educators Association “Educator Day of Action” at the state Capitol.

The annual day of action from the CEA typically brings hundreds of teachers to the Capitol to continue their push for better school funding and teacher wages, among other things.

Jeffco Public Schools sent a letter home to district families saying that enough teachers had already put in for absences that day that it cannot cover staffing with substitutes, and they are thus canceling classes for all schools – though decisions on charter school will be made by those schools, the district said.

Employees who are not approved for personal leave absences will still be expected to work that day. Extracurricular are expected to go on as scheduled unless schools decide otherwise.

“We understand that this unexpected change is inconvenient for families. We made this decision as soon as we reached the threshold where we could not reasonably fill the anticipated absences,” the district said in its letter to families. “Please know we exhausted all resources before deciding to cancel school for students. Our intention in providing this notification now is to allow families to plan for this change.”

The Douglas County School District, Cherry Creek Public Schools and Aurora Public Schools are all on spring break that week and will not be affected, the districts said.

Denver Public Schools spokesperson Winna MacLaren said the district was considering its options and hopes “to come to a decision in the next few days.”

A Westminster Public Schools spokesperson said the Westminster Education Association President, Fran Groff Gonzalez, told the school board Tuesday night that the district’s teachers planned to wear red to school that day in solidarity with the CEA, but planned to be at school.

“This is because last year, we negotiated the highest starting salary for teachers in the state of Colorado and our teachers are appreciative of the district commitment to them,” district spokesperson Steve Saunders said.

The Boulder Valley School District said it was monitoring its staffing levels but said that as of Wednesday afternoon, there would be enough substitute teachers to cover the teachers planning to go to the event.

"We are currently planning to have a normal day on March 19," a district spokesperson said.

Adams12 Five Star Schools said they would be monitoring absences and make a decision ahead of March 19 on whether to have a non-student contact day.