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KSJD Local Newscast - October 1, 2021

The Montezuma-Cortez RE-1 School Board held a virtual emergency meeting on Friday to consider providing the Superintendent authority to move schools into remote learning.

Superintendent Risha VanderWay says schools are currently not going remote, but they may have to due to critical staff shortages and COVID outbreaks. For instance in the RE-1 School district, 45 teachers were absent on Friday -- 16 of which did not have substitutes to fill their spots.

But the board did not grant VanderWay the authority to move schools to remote learning. Instead the board implemented a mask mandate starting on Monday for 2 weeks.vThe board also approved a motion that says, in an emergency, VanderWay would need to call the board members, who would then vote over the phone to give her the authority to move classes to remote learning.

But this motion potentially conflicts with the Colorado Open Meeting laws, according to attorney Andrea Wilkins, Legislative Liaison with the League of Women Voters of Colorado.

“It doesn't feel as if the notice requirements were met at all,” says Wilkins. "And if they're voting on matters, they're clearly conducting business that should be subject to the open meeting laws."

The laws require a governing body like a school board to conduct all voting and decision-making in public, with sufficient public notice, and it’s unclear how the school board would publicly conduct this motion.

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