Hundreds of students join ‘Day Without Immigrants’
February 16, 2017
Roaring Fork School District saw significant absences Thursday, which was promoted on social media as "A Day Without Immigrants" to protest President Donald Trump's immigration policies and rhetoric.
The online effort encouraged immigrants to essentially remove themselves from the community on Thursday — to miss work and school and to avoid participating in commerce.
Half to a little more than half of students in Garfield County schools are Hispanic, with a substantial portion of those being first- or second-generation U.S. residents.
As of 10 a.m. on Thursday, RFSD's 11 schools had a total of 793 students absent.
The number of absences skewed toward Glenwood Springs, with its two elementary schools seeing the biggest numbers: 152 students absent from Sopris Elementary and 145 absent from Glenwood Springs Elementary.
Kelsy Been, RFSD's public information officer, said the school district doesn't have an automated system to track staff absences, and can't identify which student absences were related to A Day Without Immigrants.
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The administration did not have any indication that school operations were suffering from lack of staff, she said.
Given the number of student absences Thursday, Been worried that parent-teacher conferences scheduled for the same day would not be well attended.
Theresa Hamilton, Garfield Re-2 School District public information officer, said those schools also had a fairly high absentee rate on Thursday.
Re-2 schools typically have about an 8 to 9 percent absentee rate, and during cold and flu season it's more like 10 to 11 percent, she said.
On Thursday, 26 percent of Re-2 students were absent.
Hamilton didn't believe the schools had any significant issues with staffers skipping work, as operations were continuing as normal.
Brad Ray, assistant superintendent of Garfield School District 16, said the schools didn't "have an anomaly of unexcused attendance today" in either staff or students. Ray had not yet heard of A Day Without Immigrants when the Post Independent called.