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Denver school district cancels classes March 19, citing expected mass teacher absences during rally

Denver teachers rally on the first day of a three-day strike in February 2019.
Denver teachers rally on the first day of a three-day strike in February 2019.
Kirsten Leah Bitzer/Chalkbeat

The Denver school district, the state’s largest, announced Tuesday it is cancelling classes on March 19 in anticipation of widespread teacher absences during a union-organized rally at the Capitol pressing for more school funding.

Click here for a full list of Colorado school districts cancelling classes March 19.

The approximately 92,000-student district joined Jeffco Public Schools in calling off school because of the large number of teachers expected to take part in the “Educator Day of Action” starting at 8 a.m. that Thursday.

“Please know that we understand that this unexpected change is inconvenient for families, and this decision was made due to the large number of teacher absences expected,” the Denver district wrote in a letter to families. “We would not be able to provide academic programs even if we were to call in as many substitute teachers as possible. Please understand that we took the time to explore all resources and options before making this decision.”

All schools will be closed to students, including preschools, the district said. Charter schools — which receive public funding but are operated independently — may not be closed, and the district urged families to contact their schools to check.

Three other large Denver metro area districts — Aurora, Cherry Creek and Douglas County — will not be affected by the rally because they are off for spring break that week.

In 2018, several districts canceled classes or dismissed students early on three different days in April when Colorado teachers rallied at the Capitol.

The state teachers union, the Colorado Education Association, is organizing the “March on the Capitol” to push for increased school funding. Specifically, the union is promoting legislation that would create a special pot of money to raise pay for teachers and other school district staff based on the cost of living in a particular district. The Senate Education Committee approved that bill in January.

The Denver district said before- and after-school Discovery Link programs will be open to current Discovery Link and Enrichment families at all 44 district sites on March 19, and the district will not charge families camp fees for that day. It asked families to fill out an intent-to-attend information if they are currently signed up for the program and would like to use it March 19.

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