- WE CANNOT DIRECT THE WIND BUT WE CAN ADJUST OUR SAILS -
2020-2021 School Year Information
Dear New and Returning Families,
Welcome to Saint Joseph School! We are excited to see everyone’s smiling faces (behind your masks!) very soon.
By choosing Saint Joseph School, you have become part of a community committed to providing academic excellence, developing well-rounded students, cultivating faith-filled disciples of God, and more important than ever this year, keeping your children healthy and safe. This school year will be like none that any of us have experienced before. It will require parents and staff working together every day to ensure the health and well-being of our children so that their learning can continue uninterrupted.
Our school plans to open for full-time, in-person learning as close to our normal manner as possible under current health and safety guidelines. We are grateful for our physical space with large classrooms, high ceilings, wide corridors, hot water heating system (not forced hot air), ceiling fans, and good ventilation that is making this possible. Here are some logistical details to note for the beginning of school:
First Day: Grades 1-8 return on Wednesday, September 9th. Kindergarten orientation will be held from 9:00-10:00am that day and their first day will be Thursday, September 10th. Class A uniforms are required on the first day. The Early Childhood Program will begin the week of September 14th.
Arrival and Dismissal: The school day is 8:00am-2:10pm (2:05pm for kindergarten). Children may be dropped off beginning at 7:50am. New procedures for this year include:
- Drop Off: On arrival, children will see signs in the parking lot designating their grade’s assembly area. Their teacher will be there to welcome them. Each grade will take turns entering the building to accommodate distancing requirements. Students in every grade should wear masks at drop off and pick up.
- Pick Up: Children will be dismissed through the side doors on the west side of the school (closest to Cedar Street) as usual. Each grade will be dismissed separately to accommodate distancing requirements. We ask that parents do not congregate outside in the dismissal area and that they return to their car once their child(ren) are with them.
Family Portal: New this year, we are delighted to introduce an online family portal. This will allow families to see their child(ren)’s grades, update emergency contact information, access the school directory, and receive text alerts from the school. Families should have received an email with instructions to set up their account. If you have any questions or difficulties in doing so, please contact Mrs. Hamelin at firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional Information: We encourage you to check the school’s website frequently for new information throughout the year, especially the Calendar and the Parent’s Blog. The blog is updated weekly and contains a wealth of information such as milk and pizza order forms, extracurricular activity forms, upcoming events, and much more.
After-School Program: Although we look forward to welcoming back students into the building with increased safety protocols, we are not able to offer after-school care at this time. We understand that this program is helpful for many families, but we cannot safely operate this program for several reasons, including concerns around mixing groups of students. If health metrics allow, we hope to begin the program in October.
For many years, we have had environmental precautions in place to limit the spread of typical illnesses such as the flu and stomach bug. We have now adapted and enhanced these protocols to meet the challenge of COVID-19. The daily measures now will include:
- Classroom preparation: Each classroom now features individual desks, not tables (including kindergarten). Desks have been spaced a minimum of three feet apart and all classrooms have been emptied of everything that could contribute to virus spread. Students will not share equipment or supplies. Teachers also will take advantage of outdoor learning opportunities when possible.
- Daily movement: Our wide corridors have been emptied of all obstructions such as extra desks or tables and have been divided into one-way paths. The 4th-8th graders will continue to move between classrooms but will have staggered schedules to minimize contact in the hallways. Recess will continue with appropriate distancing monitored by teachers.
- Cleaning protocols:
- Upon entering homeroom in the morning, each child will use hand sanitizer.
- There will be additional emphasis on and opportunities for hand washing throughout the day.
- Desks in K-3 classrooms will be cleaned at least daily.
- Desks in 4th-8th classrooms will be cleaned at the end of each class.
- Each classroom is equipped with multiple sanitizing spray bottles.
- All corridors have spray sanitizing products on the windowsills for use as needed.
- The water fountains have been disabled. Children must bring at least one water bottle with them each day.
- The custodian will sanitize each classroom and common areas of the school (including bathrooms) at the end of each day using the Clorox 360 sanitizing system (used widely by airlines, universities, etc.). In this way, the school is clean and sanitized when children report each morning.
- Visitors to the school: Parents and visitors will be restricted in the building this year. All visitors (including parents) to the school must remain at the main office area and staff will assist from that point.
- Lunch: Parents are welcome to pack lunch for their child(ren), but we also encourage ordering from Laurie’s 909. The menu can accommodate dietary restrictions and lunches are individually packaged and delivered to each child’s classroom. We also will continue to offer pizza on Fridays. The sharing of snacks and lunches among children is not permitted.
- Face masks: All staff and all students in grades 2 and up are required to wear masks throughout the day. Students in kindergarten and grade 1 will be required to wear masks outside of their classroom and at other times as deemed necessary. Parents are expected to provide the masks for their children. Masks should not feature any distractions. We ask that you refrain from wearing any masks including words, images and/or symbols detailed on the front. We will incorporate mask breaks as possible and when safe to do so.
The health and safety of your children and our staff will rely, in part, on individual attention and responsibility this year. We ask you to check your child daily for the symptoms below. The most important thing to do if any of the following symptoms are present is to stay home. We know that some symptoms of COVID-19 are the same as the flu or a bad cold, but please do not assume that it is another condition. When in doubt, stay home. Your child’s teacher will be in touch regarding missed work and remote learning opportunities. If a child becomes sick at school, we will isolate him/her until a parent can arrive.
Most Common Symptoms of COVID-19 and Testing Requirements:
- Fever [100.4or higher] chills, shaking chills
- Cough [not due to other known cause, such as chronic cough]
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Headache when in combination with other symptoms
- Muscle aches or body aches
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- Fatigue when in combination with other symptoms
- Nasal congestion or runny nose [not due to other known causes, such as allergies] when in combination with other symptoms.
Staff and students who have symptoms should contact their primary care physician for further instructions. If staff or students have these symptoms, they must get tested for active COVID-19 prior to returning to school. If a student tests positive for the virus, the class will automatically move to remote learning for 14 days or when cleared by medical authorities. We anticipate adding to and/or adjusting these guidelines as necessary for safety.
We understand that this year’s return to school may be scary and anxiety-provoking for many parents. However, we are confident in the protocols and enhancements we have put in place, and our staff is eager to welcome back the students we cherish. Working in partnership with you and centering our day around our faith, we know that God will “keep us in the palm of His hands” (Isaiah 49:16).
Please don’t hesitate to call the office if you have any further questions or concerns. Additionally, I will be hosting a virtual principal coffee hour on Tuesday, September 1st at 6:30pm. Please check the Parent’s Blog for the zoom link.
Dr. Joseph Sullivan, D. Ed.