BOULDER, Colo. — Three Colorado school districts will be closed Friday due to staffing shortages.
Boulder Valley School District, Adams 12 Five Star Schools, and Adams 14 all sent letters to families saying all schools in their districts will be closed on Friday. Schools are also closed Thursday in observance of Veterans Day.
A Boulder Valley spokesperson said more staff are scheduled to be absent Friday than the number of substitutes available--which is also fewer than normal.
"Unfortunately, in a quirk of scheduling our academic calendar left Friday as a floating day of school. While we do have a robust review and input process to develop our school calendars, we did not realize at the time of approving this calendar the staffing shortages we would be facing this year," Boulder Valley superintendent Rob Anderson said in a letter to parents.
Boulder Valley says the issue has been compounded by a limited pool of substitutes, a result of the pandemic. In a normal year, the district would typically have about 900 substitute teachers. This year, they have about 300.
The district could not find enough substitute teachers to accommodate the 486 teachers who are off on Friday following the Veterans Day holiday.
"We knew it was always a possibility that we could have a shortage that would cause an issue that it would impact service. We were always hoping to avoid it though," said Randy Barber, Chief Communications Officer with Boulder Valley School District. "Our goal is always to stay open five days a week with students in person. It’s regrettable that we are having to close this Friday."
As a result of the difficulty in finding staff, teachers are often stepping in to cover for their colleagues who are absent. Barber describes the situation as stretching full-time staff thin "really to a breaking point at times."
"On those days, everyone has to move their stuff around in order to cover those classes," said Brittany Hadlow, a 4th grade teacher at Douglass Elementary. "So if we had had school on Friday, I would have to cover whoever wasn’t in the building. I wouldn’t have planning time. I wouldn’t have lunch time, so I would have had to take my time to do that and not do my regular planning."
The decision will allow teachers that would have been in the classroom on Friday to play catch-up with lesson plans and other tasks that have built up due to the shortages.
"Teachers like the gift of time no matter what," Hadlow said. "So having that time to sit down and really dig into that, so that I can explain it to my kids in a proper way, is really a gift."
Adams County School District 14 made a similar decision, saying "Friday is posing a staffing challenge that we will not be able to overcome."
In a letter to parents, Adams 12 Five Star Schools said, "amidst these ongoing staffing challenges, this flexibility and creativity can often only stretch so far and sometimes difficult decisions must be made."
"The decision to close school is never taken lightly and we recognize the impact this may have on many of our families, especially in terms of child care," the district said in a letter to parents. "Our highest priority is to always offer a productive and safe environment for students to learn."
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