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Montezuma-Cortez schools closed down; charter schools remain open

Montezuma-Cortez School District Re-1 faces decreased enrollment, which could raise the deficit for the district.
Students scheduled to return to school Nov. 8

Montezuma-Cortez School District RE-1 schools — apart from the charter schools — are closed through Friday, Nov. 5, according to a district news release Tuesday evening.

Students are scheduled to return to school Monday, Nov. 8.

The district will shift to online learning beginning Wednesday. All school-related activities have been halted.

Custodial staff will disinfect the schools, and no students or other staff will be inside the buildings during that time, the release said.

The news release didn’t specify the reason for the closure, but the move came about a month after Superintendent Risha VanderWey asked the school board for permission to shift schools into remote learning as needed because of workforce shortages and COVID-19 cases in the district.

The board denied her that authority. The school board first approved a motion to allow board members to vote on emergency remote learning orders by phone, and then – after questions of the legality of a phone vote – voted again, ultimately denying VanderWey the ability to close schools. It was discussed she could do so in emergency situations without board permission in the second emergency meeting regarding the matter Oct. 5.

Kemper Elementary School was closed the next day, Oct. 6, and moved to online instruction through Oct. 22.

According to outbreak data released Tuesday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Kemper Elementary School last reported 14 active cases of the coronavirus — 13 students and one staff member — on Oct. 1.

Montezuma-Cortez High School last reported 11 active cases – nine students and two staff – on the same day. Also on Oct. 1, Montezuma-Cortez Middle School reported 20 virus cases in students and two in staff.

In the past week, 183 new COVID-19 cases and one death have been reported in Montezuma County, according to CDPHE data released Tuesday.

This was republished on Wednesday to correct information provided by the schools about closures, clarifying that the charter schools will remain open.