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Eagle County Schools to continue distance learning during spring break, end year a week early on May 22

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April 10, 2020, 3:12 pm

The Eagle County Schools Board of Education on Friday voted to continue distance learning through the regularly scheduled spring break this month in order to end the school year early on Friday, May 22.

Here’s a letter from Eagle County Schools:

Dear Eagle County School District Community,

It is with tremendous gratitude that we acknowledge the efforts of students, teachers, and parents in making a rapid transition to remote learning. Eagle County School District (ECSD) believes that students learn best when they are physically and emotionally secure. The traumatic impact of COVID-19 on families in our community has moved many outside of optimal learning conditions. The district will do everything in our power to relieve stress and help families through this challenge by developing grading options that are compassionate and empowering, holding true to our retention policy, and reimagining graduation. ECSD also strives to provide equitable opportunities for all students, regardless of their background or circumstances. We believe the options explained below acknowledge a variety of situations, and honor the new reality in which we are living.

Phil Qualman

School Calendar Changes:
Thank you for participating in our public survey to collect overall preferences on how we approach our upcoming Spring Break. We had over 4200 responses. As a result of the survey, the Board of Education scheduled a special Board meeting for today, April 10, to discuss the school calendar.

The Board of Education voted to amend the calendar to continue distance learning through Spring Break and end the school year a week early so that the last day of school for students will be Friday, May 22, 2020. Of the 4200+ responses, 72% preferred this option.The District recognizes that students, parents, and teachers have worked tirelessly in recent weeks to transition from traditional classroom instruction to distance learning. The change has brought significant stress to the lives of many. Spring Break was viewed by some as a much-needed respite from these new challenges. Teachers are asked to limit work during the week of April 20 to allow students and parents time to rest and recoup. Still, it remains important for students to have engagement during that week, so teachers are asked to limit activities to:

  • Contacting students who have not been actively engaged in distance learning
  • Encouraging students who are behind to catch up on missing tasks
  • Developing fun and engaging tasks that allow students to demonstrate creativity and collaborate with friends online
  • For high school students, prepare for Advanced Placement exams, which will be administered in May

In addition, the Board of Education voted to cancel in-person learning through the end of the school year. Distance learning will continue through the end of the school year, now the 22nd of May. Staff, parents, and students have been very flexible, engaged, and effective at maintaining their effort to continue learning during this very disruptive pandemic.

Graduation:
Eagle County Schools understands that the disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic is particularly difficult for the Class of 2020. The final year of high school, especially the last stretch to graduation, is a very special and exciting time for students and their families.

One of our concerns has been the status of scheduled graduation ceremonies. The school district has been waiting to see if the pandemic crisis would subside in such a manner as to allow our planned ceremonies to continue. However, at this point, the gathering of thousands of people at the end of May does not seem possible. It is with a heavy heart that we share this news.

The entire ECSD faculty feel deeply for our graduating students, who have worked so hard and who had greatly anticipated the experience of getting up on a physical stage to have their diplomas put in their hands. In light of the current stay-at-home and social distancing orders, we are planning virtual graduation ceremonies to take place at the end of May. If the social distancing orders are lifted and we are able to hold large gatherings by mid-summer, then we will hold additional graduation ceremonies at that time. We feel it is wisest to hold virtual ceremonies on or near the original graduation dates and remain hopeful that we can hold a second ceremony in person at a later time. Principals, counselors, staff, students, and district leadership are planning our virtual ceremonies and will keep you informed as the plans solidify.

Students will receive their diplomas via mail in a timely fashion to accommodate college admissions processes. We ask that families please remain flexible. Solutions may not be exactly like our standing traditions, but we will do our best to make it a special time for our seniors.

Eagle County currently has one of the highest rates of infection per capita in the state of Colorado. Simply put, your health and the health of all our faculty and staff must outweigh all other considerations, so the right decision is clear, even if it has been heart-wrenching for us to make.

If your senior child continues to make an earnest effort to remain engaged in learning, then their credits and GPA will remain intact and they will receive their diploma. If your senior was or is struggling, every effort will be made by teachers to help them graduate as well. For matters as individual as these, please work directly with your child’s counselor, teachers, and principal. It is imperative that seniors remain academically engaged through these final months of school to earn the credits they need to graduate.  

To celebrate our seniors, our Communications Department is working with the Vail Daily to help recognize seniors in the newspaper and on the ECSD social media channels. To help, please review and complete this form, attaching a photo and hitting the submit button. This will go to our communications team for posting to social media. They will also forward to the Vail Daily for inclusion in the paper if you indicate your child’s information can be shared with the paper. Participation is optional.

We know many of you have other family members and friends scheduled to come in from out of town to celebrate with you, so we wanted you to know about the postponements right away. Unfortunately, the rescheduling will likely take place on a tighter timeline. We have to wait and see how our community and country respond to the pandemic.

We will communicate with you as we know more. Meanwhile, be well and continue staying at home as much as possible. One thing can be certain, our graduating seniors will move forward with the strength, confidence, and resolve that can only be learned through this kind of challenging experience. We will prevail and their successes in life will be countless.

Respectfully,

Philip Qualman, Superintendent

Dr. Katie Jarnot,   Asst Superintendent

Melisa Rewold-Thuon, Asst Superintendent                                          

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