School Views: Back to learning
School has begun and we are so grateful to be back in class for five days a week of in-person instruction. I understand that the mask mandate that was implemented at the end of last week in response to the county’s public health order was not a decision that was embraced by all.
Rest assured, it was not an easy decision to come to and certainly one that was not taken lightly. I’d like to commend the tireless efforts of Eagle County Public Health and Environment as well as my fellow school leaders throughout Eagle County for making themselves available on short notice to work through this problem.
We can all agree Friday afternoon was not ideal timing, but nothing about the last year and a half has been ideal. Friday afternoon was spent feverishly working with Eagle County Public Health to determine the best course of action and provide as much notice to our families as possible.
I’d also like to thank all of the local law enforcement agencies that stepped in on Monday morning to ensure a smooth opening at all our schools. I’m very happy to report that all our schools opened without incident and it was just the start to the 2021-22 school year we were hoping for.
But above all that, I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to all the parents of our students throughout Eagle County. While everyone’s opinion may vary about the efficacy or necessity of masks, we can all agree that we want our kids in school, with their classmates, with their teachers, engaged in the learning process. We are excited to provide students with full access to electives, specials and all the extracurricular and sports options they need to be healthy and engaged.
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Representatives from Eagle Valley Behavioral Health and Vail Health agree that more negative behavioral health outcomes come from isolation and remote learning than from wearing a mask in school. So let’s focus on keeping our kids in school, even if that means wearing masks a little while longer. If we can work together and get the spread of this disease and specifically the delta variant under control, we will be able to lift the mask mandate.
We continue to see that vaccinations remain a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19. If you have not already done so, we implore you to consider getting yourself (and your children) vaccinated. It may be just what we need to get back to normal, and for the long term.
This is a virus, it will not magically disappear one day. We must fight back with whatever means we have at our disposal to gain control and learn to live with it, and vaccinations offer the best protection to fight against severe illness and death.
We are all ready for this pandemic to be over, but we can choose how we respond. As a district, every choice we make is for the safety of our students and staff members, and with the ultimate goal of maintaining in-person instruction five days a week.
We choose to make the best of a challenging situation. We choose to work together, care about one another, and set positive examples for our children. As superintendent of Eagle County School District, the well-being of our kids and our community remains my top priority.
Philip Qualman is the superintendent of Eagle County Schools. Email him at email@example.com.