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Eagle County Schools sticking with no masks to start school year

The question as to whether or not Eagle County Schools will require students to wear masks has been an ongoing debate this summer between parents and district leadership.
Eagle County Schools/Special to the Daily

Eagle County Schools on Monday afternoon reiterated that it will begin the academic year on Aug. 16 with no mask requirements in local schools.

The district, working with Eagle County Department of Public Health and Environment, cited the county’s current vaccination rate of 85% among eligible residents and serious illness and hospitalizations remaining minimal throughout the county as considerable factors in its decision.

The district has worked in tandem with the county’s public health directives throughout the pandemic.



Due to federal transportation regulations, masks will be required to be worn on all school buses. Bus drivers will have disposable masks on-hand for riders if needed.

“This is positive news for our students, our staff and our community,” said Superintendent Philip Qualman in a statement released by the district. “Vaccinations continue to be the best path forward to be able to continue with in-person learning, and with so many people in Eagle County rolling up their sleeves and getting their shots, we are excited about beginning our school year in-person.”

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The key data points of vaccination rates, disease spread, severe illness in our community’s youth and hospitalizations have been at the forefront of the decision-making process and will continue to be closely monitored, the district said.

In partnership, Eagle County Schools and YouthPower365 held full-day, five-day-a-week summer programming during the month of July that served 600 students from kindergarten through eighth grade without masks required. The district reported zero positive cases of COVID-19 from the summer term.

After a year of pandemic-influenced schedules, school will be in session five days a week this year, with a one-hour late start on Wednesdays. Classes will return in a pre-pandemic manner: they will return to normal size, extra-curricular activities will resume without restrictions, field trips will begin again, and visitors will be welcomed into schools with an appointment.

“We ask that our community pull together and stay home if they are sick, wear masks when and where appropriate, and respect everyone’s personal decision as to whether or not to wear a mask. We will not tolerate bullying of any kind associated with the decision to mask up,” Qualman said.

The district said it will continue to track transmission rates and severe illness throughout the county and work with the health department to determine if it is necessary to make a change to this protocol.

“This is an ever-evolving situation, and we will continue to treat it as such and exercise caution as necessary. If that means updating this policy later in the school year then so be it, but we are happy to be getting back to the classroom and look forward to seeing our students’ smiles,” Qualman said.

 


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