(WOODLAND PARK, Colo.) — Woodland Park School District RE-2 has made a decision to relocate sixth grade classes from middle schools to elementary schools, and in response to the change, some Woodland Park Middle School (WPMS) employees participated in a call-out-sick protest on Wednesday, March 1.

According to a press release from RE-2, the district made a “strategic decision” to expand their existing three elementary schools to PK-6 grade, and move sixth grade from middle to elementary schools.

“This new configuration will allow for proper utilization of space for both the Woodland Park
Middle School (WPMS) and Merit Academy as enrollment continues to grow,” explained the district.

RE-2 backed their decision by saying that the new configuration offers several benefits for students.

“Firstly, our elementary schools strongly emphasize fundamental skills such as literacy and numeracy. By incorporating the 6th grade into our elementary schools, students will have a better opportunity to establish a solid foundation in these core subjects before transitioning to the more complex middle school environment,” said the district’s press release.

The district also said that having sixth graders stay in elementary school would remove some of the peer pressure that typically comes when students begin navigating social relationships, and argued that having them be the oldest students in the school can offer leadership opportunities.

However, some WPMS employees protested the changes on Wednesday, participating in a call-out-sick protest, which RE-2 said “disrupted our students’ learning environment.”

FOX21 News has reached out to the Woodland Park Education Association for comment, and will update this story when we hear back.