Sorry kids, school’s back on for March 19

Updated March 12 at 11:37 a.m. 

After more than a dozen Colorado districts recently announced that school would be canceled on March 19 because of a statewide teachers rally, several reversed course after the rally’s cancellation Tuesday over coronavirus fears.

Jeffco, Boulder Valley, Mapleton, District 27J, Weld Re-3J, and Clear Creek officials all announced this week that they will hold school on March 19. Leaders in Denver, the state’s largest district with 93,000 students, said they haven’t made a decision yet, but will soon.

Two districts that called off school the day of the rally won’t reinstate it for students, but will require staff to report. Officials from Adams 12, the state’s sixth-largest district, said they’ll use the day to work on the development of distance-learning plans in the event of an extended district closure related to the spread of the coronavirus. The 2,400-student Weld Re-8 district will hold a required staff training on March 19.

Officials in the 2,600-student Englewood district south of Denver said they’ll decide whether to hold school by the end of the day Friday. A handful of other districts, including Adams 14, Littleton, and Sheridan didn’t immediately have an answer to Chalkbeat’s inquiry about whether school will be held March 19.

Union leaders had expected more than 5,000 educators and supporters to attend the “March on the Capitol” rally from districts around the state. Thirteen school districts and two charter networks had announced closures for that day due to the large number of staff absences. Other large school districts, like Aurora and Douglas County, are on spring break that week.

The union planned to use the rally to advocate for a bill that would create a dedicated fund to increase pay for teachers and hourly employees at schools, for a statewide tax increase that would help fund education, and for lawmakers to increase education funding overall.

Union President Amie Baca-Oehlert said union members would continue to visit the Capitol in smaller numbers to talk to lawmakers. The union also plans to roll out plans for a virtual day of action “to offer educators, parents, students, and public education supporters the opportunity to participate and have a powerful impact at the legislature from home.”