If Denver teachers strike Monday, hundreds of district preschool classrooms will close because of a shortage of qualified substitutes. We’ve got a rundown of the questions parents are asking as they scramble to find back-up care. If you have a question we missed, let us know and we’ll try to find an answer. And if you’re comfortable sharing how you’ll handle child care for your preschooler during the strike, we’d love to hear from you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How many students will be affected by preschool classroom closures if Denver teachers strike?
About 5,000 3- and 4-year-old students who attend half- and full-day preschool in 220 district classrooms. The preschool closures will continue throughout a strike.
Why will schools be open for older students but not preschoolers?
Unlike K-12 classrooms, preschool classrooms are governed by child care licensing rules, which have strict specifications about things like class size, student-teacher ratios, and teacher background checks. Denver district officials say completing the required background checks, including fingerprinting, through the state’s Department of Human Services for 220 substitute preschool teachers is impossible by next week.
Will classes be canceled for district kindergarteners who are served in mixed-aged classrooms with preschoolers?
No. Kindergarteners will still be able to attend class because they are not covered under child care rules the way preschoolers are.
Can preschool students still take advantage of school meals even if they’re not attending class?
Yes. They can come to campus just to eat breakfast or lunch at school, but will have to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Will parents who pay preschool tuition be paid back for any days missed because of the strike?
Yes. District officials said preschool parents will be credited for tuition paid during the strike.
Will Discovery Link, the school’s before- and after-school child care program, be able to provide care for affected preschoolers?
No. Denver district officials said the Discovery Link program, which is not available at all schools, won’t be able to accommodate affected preschoolers.
What will paraprofessionals working in the district’s preschools do if their classrooms are closed during a strike?
District officials said preschool paraprofessionals will be reassigned to work with students in other grades during a strike.
What options do preschool parents have if they need care for their children during a strike?
Currently, there aren’t many formal options for families seeking emergency child care next week. We’ve heard from parents who plan to pay for short-term slots in private child care centers and others who will rely on friends, neighbors, or relatives for help. Some will undoubtedly take their children to work with them, or work from home if possible.
Some Denver area child care centers may receive permission from the Colorado Department of Human Services to increase their capacity and expedite enrollment processes in order to accept Denver preschoolers affected by the strike. Call the Colorado Shines Child Care Referral at Mile High United Way at 1-877-338-2273 or text “child care referral” to 898-211 to find a child care center. Denver district officials also recommend calling their Family Helpline at 720-423-3054 from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.