School Views: Catching a second wind |

School Views: Catching a second wind

Up and down the valley, schools are back in session using the same schedules we were in before the holiday – modified in-person learning. We’re still in a tenuous spot on the cusp of slipping into the red, severe risk category on the state’s COVID-19 dial, but we’re thankful for every day we have with our students. And hopeful the community can continue practicing the safety guidelines to help contain the spread and keep us out of Level Red. It’s essentially halftime; we’ve caught our second wind, and we’re ready to finish strong.

We start the second half of this school year with good news — the arrival of vaccines. It was reassuring to see our health care workers receive vaccinations over the break. And recently, the governor moved educators up in priority making them part of the next large group eligible to receive vaccines.

Plus, a new COVID-19 relief package has the potential to help us offset rising costs, including academic recovery programs for struggling students. We’ve added a district-specific dashboard to our website ( to help parents and staff see the current impact of the virus on our schools. This tracks the percentages of staff and students with positive cases or in quarantine due to a close contact with a positive case at school.

Despite all of the good news, this second half will take grit and determination. Even after school district staff have received their first and second doses of the vaccine, our safety precautions and quarantines will continue for the safety of all. Small class sizes, hybrid days at high schools, social distancing, and mask wearing are likely here to stay for this school year. Positive cases can and will result in the quarantining of close contacts to help contain the spread of the virus in schools.

As a community, we must continue to work together to control the virus, even as more and more of our adult population are vaccinated. We can’t stop now, and we can’t let up in February or March.

Just as we had previously never before provided instruction during a global pandemic, we’ve also never operated through the time in which a pandemic resolves. Please continue to be patient and understanding as we enter this new, uncharted territory. Our goal remains the same: provide as much in-person learning as is safe and possible.

Our partners in state and local public health departments, as well as the Colorado Department of Education and the Governor’s office, continue to advise us on health and safety guidelines. These entities are also advised by national and international experts. We constantly evaluate the operational challenges of our evolving situation and turn to our students, staff, and parents for feedback. By continuing to work together, I’m confident that our second wind can carry us through the rest of the school year.

Philip Qualman is the superintendent of Eagle County Schoools. Email him at

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