Superintendent's Corner

The home stretch

In many ways, it is hard to believe that the 2020-21 school year is almost over. It’s been a year unlike any other, and we certainly hope it stays that way. I’m very proud of our community and the ways in which we continued to work together to learn together during the pandemic. I can’t say enough good things about our teachers and support staff. And, we can’t express enough gratitude for parents and community members for your patience and perseverance. We’ve said before, “If ever there was a place that could set a shining example for what a community and its schools could accomplish out of love for its children, let it be ours,” and that was never more necessary, or more evident, than this year. Thank you.

As we approach the home stretch, we’re starting to see really good news on the horizon related to the pandemic. Thanks to the equally remarkable efforts of Public Health and Vail Health, we have surpassed a 60% vaccination rate for adults in the valley. Students aged 16, 17, and 18 have among the highest percentages of vaccinated for their age range. Our most recent incidence rate was below 50 per 100,000, with positivity rates down to 2.2%.

Just this week, the FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents aged 12 and over. As these children are vaccinated — around 3,000 in all — the percentage of protection in our student body against the virus rises.

On May 27, local Public Health orders are set to expire. This allows us to have plenty of capacity at our outdoor graduations on Friday, May 28 and Saturday, May 29 (VSSA’s graduation is on May 21, and may have some capacity restrictions). Some mask wearing requirements may remain in place based on recommendations and venue rules. Please be cooperative and focus on celebrating our amazing graduates. Being together, honoring their achievement, and wishing them well are what these moments are all about. Graduation times and details are on our website, our social media accounts, and available at each high school. We’re very proud of our students, and these seniors.

Battle Mountain High School had a successful outdoor prom on Saturday evening, May 8. It was spectacular to see our students back together for this event. Yes, the weather was colder and wetter than we wanted it to be, but the kids danced, and laughed, posed for photos, and kept our chaperones on their toes. Eagle Valley High School’s prom is upcoming and we are excited to see those students enjoy a similar celebration. It is very rewarding and restorative to see our students so happy and having so much fun. Thank you for sticking together and helping make these events possible.

Many are wondering about next year. We are planning a return to normal operations. For us, that means in-person learning five days a week for all grade levels. It means regular cohorts, special classes (like art, PE, music), and support classes. We expect full use of our facilities by students and teachers. There are a few things we can’t know at present that will remain dependent on Public Health recommendations in August, but the collective goal is to return to school as usual. In the meantime, we look forward to seeing families and community members at our upcoming graduations.


Philip Qualman is the superintendent of Eagle County Schools. He can be reached at philip.qualman@eagleschools.net