Eagle schools cancel in-person graduations, classes for rest of semester | PostIndependent.com

Eagle schools cancel in-person graduations, classes for rest of semester

Randy Wyrick
Vail Daily
The school board made three major announcements Friday: 1. No in-person classes will be held through the end of the school year. Classes will be online. 2. Students and staff will work through spring break, and the school year will end a week early, May 22. 3. Graduation ceremonies will be online, not in person.
Special to the Daily

Students in Eagle County schools are not going back to in-person classes through the remainder of this school year, not even for graduation.

In a special meeting Friday, the school board pulled the plug on in-person classes for the rest of the 2019-20 school year. Their decision came almost exactly a month after the board’s decision to close buildings and shift to online learning.

As part of Friday’s decision, this month’s spring break was canceled and the school year will end a week early, May 22. Spring break was scheduled to begin on April 20 for schools in Gypsum, Eagle, Edwards and Eagle-Vail.

Graduation ceremonies are scheduled to proceed online, possibly with live ceremonies later this summer — assuming the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided. The school board was disappointed for this year’s seniors.

“Eagle County Schools understands that the disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic is particularly difficult for the Class of 2020,” the school district said in Friday’s announcement. “The final year of high school, especially the last stretch to graduation, is a very special and exciting time for students and their families.”

Graduation ceremonies mean putting thousands of people in one place for the happy occasion, something the school board hoped would be possible.

“However, at this point, the gathering of thousands of people at the end of May does not seem possible. It is with a heavy heart that we share this news,” the school board said in its announcement.

What the majority wants

Friday’s announcements came on the heels of an email survey of parents and staff. Of the 4,200 responses, 72% preferred working through spring break and ending the year early, pointing out that they cannot go anywhere anyway.

“Students, parents and teachers have worked tirelessly in recent weeks to transition from traditional classroom instruction to distance learning,” the school board said in its announcement. “The change has brought significant stress to the lives of many. Spring break was viewed by some as a much-needed respite from these new challenges. Teachers are asked to limit work during the week of April 20 to allow students and parents time to rest and recoup.”

Graduation is one of life’s milestones, and while virtual graduation ceremonies might have to do, they’re not the same, the school board said.

“Your health and the health of all our faculty and staff must outweigh all other considerations, so the right decision is clear, even if it has been heart-wrenching for us to make,” the school board said.

Diplomas will be mailed to graduating seniors. “Solutions may not be exactly like our standing traditions, but we will do our best to make it a special time for our seniors,” the school board said.

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