South Routt cancels school next week; district says change isn’t because of staffing or COVID |

South Routt cancels school next week; district says change isn’t because of staffing or COVID

SOUTH ROUTT — The South Routt Board of Education voted Tuesday not to have students come to school Monday and Tuesday next week, but the district says the move has nothing to do with COVID-19 or staffing shortages.

South Routt Superintendent Rim Watson said Wednesday that the change to the calendar was because the district had two extra days of instruction.

“If you have two extra days built into your calendar, it’s pretty obvious that the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving break would be the most advantageous,” Watson said. “It’s usually two of our highest absence days of the year.”

Watson said it’s not accurate to say the change was due to a lack of teachers or other staff.

The agenda for Tuesday’s school board meeting featured the change in the action items section, listed simply as adjust 2021-22 district calendar. South Routt schools were in session Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving break in 2020.

Watson said the district still has challenges when it comes to COVID-19, but case counts are close to where they want them — though Watson didn’t provide any numbers. He said the district is excited about extended vaccinations for students as young as 5 and the 40 students that attended a clinic at South Routt Medical Center last week.

“We had a substantial number that signed up for that first round,” Watson said. “That’s huge.”

South Routt County has been struggling with COVID-19. Yampa resident and Routt County Commissioner Tim Corrigan said last week that, “It seems like there is a problem.” In October, cases of COVID-19 outside of Steamboat Springs were disproportionately higher than the county overall, according to data from Routt County Public Health. North Routt had the highest incidence rate, followed by South Routt and then West Routt, per the local health department.

Watson said the district has always had difficulty finding enough substitute teachers but that positions are able to be covered internally within the district. Substitute teacher availability hampered each district in Routt County last year when quarantine guidelines were stricter.

“We are definitely challenged on subs each day, but that said, that’s this entire school year and last year, as well,” Watson said. “I really appreciate that a lot of our staff steps up and does extra assignments to make sure we have everything covered.”

Students in the Hayden and Steamboat Springs school districts are off Monday and Tuesday, as well.

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