Nov 12, 2021 - News

Classes canceled in Colorado as COVID fatigue sets in

An empty classroom in Denver. Photo: Hyoung Chang/Denver Post via Getty Images

Schools in Colorado keep closing due to COVID-19 outbreaks and widespread staffing shortages among substitute teachers, school nurses and bus drivers.

Why it matters: The toll of learning loss due to the pandemic has been enormous — and persistent staffing issues threaten to hinder students' education even further.

The big picture: COVID fatigue is real — and only getting worse — as Colorado's cases climb to dangerous levels and the pandemic approaches the two-year mark.

  • Americans are increasingly feeling numb to the threat of the virus as time drags on, a new Axios/Ipsos poll shows.

Zoom in: Among the most prominent places pandemic fatigue is setting in is within Colorado's school systems.

  • Denver Public Schools will close all buildings on Nov. 19 and start the Thanksgiving break a day early to give overworked staff "time to focus on their health and self-care" after "another difficult and draining year."
  • The decision comes as three other Colorado school districts canceled classes for today and at least three DPS schools moved to remote learning because of staffing shortages.

Between the lines: As school administrators attempt to provide a needed breather to battle burnout, it's not easy when it comes to scheduling time off or rapidly transitioning from in-person to remote learning.

  • Parents often struggle to line up child care or take off work with little notice — and they worry scheduling fluctuations and cancellations will continue beyond the holidays.

What they're saying: "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," DPS officials wrote in a letter to parents. "Our highest priority is to always offer a productive and safe environment for students to learn."

Zoom out: The school closures in Colorado reflect a nationwide problem afflicting cities from Seattle and Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Boston and Philadelphia.

  • As the pandemic wears on, experts say school staffing woes — which existed even before the pandemic — show no signs of slowing.

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