Why local schools in Eagle County are in session this President’s Day | VailDaily.com

Why local schools in Eagle County are in session this President’s Day

The Eagle County School District moved its February break, in part due to the high volume of tourism and workforce demand during the holiday

A view of the line to get on Gondola One during the 2021 President's Day Weekend in Vail. This year, Eagle County School District students will be in school for the holiday, supporting the influx of tourism around the holiday, which requires many district parents to work.
John LaConte/Vail Daily archive

This year, local families may notice something new about the Eagle County School District calendar: students have to report to school on President’s Day. In previous years, the district’s mid-winter break fell over the President’s Day holiday. However, this year, the district’s February break falls a week later, with students reporting to classrooms on the bank holiday.

Every few years, the Eagle County School District convenes a group of administrators, parents and teachers to review the school year calendar. The calendars are created for three years at a time, with the most recent 2022-23, 2023-24 and 2024-25 school years approved by the Board of Education in October 2021.  

Moving this year’s February break to the week after the holiday was one of the bigger changes made by the calendar committee for the 2022-23, 2023-24 and 2024-25 school year calendars.

When considering the change, the committee relied on survey results from a bilingual survey sent to the district’s parents and staff. The district received over 1,400 responses in this survey.

Collectively, the data on February break was somewhat inconclusive, with 39% of respondents saying it should be the week of President’s Day, 38% saying it should be a different week and 24% expressing “no opinion.” However, when disaggregated, 50% of teachers supported having the break the week of the holiday, and 41% of parents supported having it a different week.

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The committee is charged with balancing numerous requirements and priorities including everything from set student contact days and statewide testing periods to the realities of living in a resort community and maximizing teacher recruitment.

“Our charge was to design a calendar that was best for student success. This is not about what I want, it’s not about what you want, it is what is best for the students,” said Adele Wilson, the district’s chief human resources officer and chair of the committee, at the Oct. 6, 2021 Board of Education meeting.

The committee is comprised of a chair from the district administration team, teachers and staff, parents, and one board member. Each set of calendars must be approved by the Board of Education.

However, the committee also received numerous comments from respondents that having the break on Presidents Day weekend makes it hard for local employees — particularly for those working for the mountains and tourism business — who cannot find child care or take off work that week due to the influx of visitors.

“Having a week off when other states are taking a week makes it terrible around here and tough for some families to have someone to watch their kids due to the needs of staff on the mountain,” read one of the comments.

It was for this reason, Wilson said in an email to the Vail Daily on Thursday, Feb. 16, that the calendar committee moved the February break.

“With so many people working in hospitality and the influx of tourists over President’s Day weekend, it makes for a tremendously busy time and it is not feasible for many folks to request time off from work. This correlates to many students spending time at home (many unsupervised),” Wilson wrote.

“Therefore the results of the survey indicated an overwhelming desire for the week to be moved to a more convenient time when families would have greater flexibility to enjoy the time off and more importantly not leave students at home alone.”

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