FALL 2020 SCHOOL OPENING ROADMAP

The team at St. Johnsbury Academy has spent recent weeks developing thoughtful, responsible, and balanced plans for opening for the 2020-2021 school year in accord with the Vermont Department of Health and Agency of Education Guidance for A Strong and Healthy Start, CDC guidelines, other official and expert advice, and the good thinking that is happening across the world. It is our goal to welcome students back to campus to start the school year on August 31st, and while they’re here, to offer them the best possible SJA experience while keeping them safe and protecting our communities.

 

Our work has focused on ways to maintain and even build on the Academy’s unique daily life, culture, and mission in this unprecedented and unpredictable time. We hope you will use this special section of our website, “Fall 2020 School Opening Roadmap,” as a tool, alongside our SJA student and parent portals, to find up-to-date information and to answer your questions about our opening plans. Thank you for partnering with us for a successful fall!

 

Please feel free to send questions to me using this form.


Choose YOUR PATHWAY for THIS FALL:

Boarding student link

Students living and studying on campus.

Day student link button

This includes day students who prefer to take all classes online.

Virtual Academy button

An exciting new opportunity to have the SJA experience from anywhere in the world!

St. Johnsbury Academy Fall 2020 Community Commitment

Our Commitment

Life at the Academy will look different this fall as we work together to make our campus as safe as possible for in-person teaching and learning during this global pandemic. Our mission remains to help each student become the best person, the best learner, and the best community member they can be — and our collective dedication to that mission, and its promises to our students, is more important than ever.

 

Each of us needs compassion and respect right now, and how we model responsibility and integrity will resonate into the future. Our current predicaments are the best evidence of how critical it is for our teachers to keep doing their good work — helping students pursue knowledge, approach problems creatively, and understand their education as a rising path both to self-reliance and to equity of all kinds. Perhaps the deepest lessons of this moment lie in recognizing the power of our relationships and the inescapable connectedness of our lives.

 

Confronting the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic while also staying true to our values will require trust and partnership among us all — faculty and staff, students, parents, and the larger community. That is why we are asking everyone in our school community to commit to doing what is necessary to keep one another as safe and healthy as we can. Change and uncertainty can be hard, but if our desire is to be and stay together this year, there are very specific things that we can do to minimize risk and help protect each other.

 

We are all in this together

We are asking everyone to help us comply with those public health measures that have been shown to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to help communities stay safe. Some may already be part of your routines, and others will be important to learn.

 

  • Wearing masks: There is wide consensus that masks reduce transmission, and in keeping with the current Vermont State mask mandate (as of August 1), we are requiring that every member of the community wear a mask or other facial covering when on campus. Mask wearing is non-negotiable for in-person participation in any activity on campus, and we will have masks available for those who need them.

 

  • Physically distancing: We have made changes to campus density, layout, and navigation that will help us to be mindful of our distance from others. We know it can be hard to keep the recommended 6 feet or more of distance between us, but we need to do our best. Posted signs, repositioned furniture, distance markers, and other directions will support your effort to distance in our campus spaces, as will moving some activities outdoors.

 

  • Cleaning and Disinfecting: we will be cleaning and disinfecting communal surfaces often, filtering indoor air, and providing hand sanitizing stations in convenient locations around school. We also encourage everyone to acquire the habit of washing hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.

 

  • Limiting travel and exposure: We will be adhering strictly to the state’s guidelines about quarantines and testing, so as we begin the year and throughout the fall we will expect everyone to avoid unnecessary travel to places requiring quarantine upon return. We will also be limiting visitors to campus to those with specific needs to be here, and strictly limiting off-campus trips.

 

  • Staying Home When Sick: The best way to avoid exposing others to the virus is to stay home if you have symptoms. Our academic classes will be offered both in person and online in a hybrid mode, and no student will be penalized for staying home to attend class virtually. We will screen all who come to campus, and anyone with symptoms or known exposure will be asked to return home before entering campus.

 

  • Working together: We are likely to have a case of COVID-19 in the school community at some point. In that event, we will follow protocols developed with the help of infectious disease experts — including dedicated isolation space, testing, and contact tracing — and work closely with the Vermont Department of Health and our local health partners to determine a response in accord with the state’s guidelines. Health officials will need all of our help with contact tracing, and with understanding that we have significant constraints about what can be shared publicly about an individual’s health. And you can help school officials by understanding that different situations may call for different responses, and a positive case in the community will not automatically be considered cause for emergency action. At the same time, we will not hesitate to move school online — something we are prepared to do smoothly — if we determine that is the appropriate response.

 

Some have shared concern about the ability of kids, even teenagers, to wear masks and keep distance from one another consistently — and we know that students’ compliance with these precautions will determine their success. St. Johnsbury Academy is guided by a deep optimism about young people; we believe that students learn from and follow examples they respect, and can often surprise us by rising to high expectations. The more adults make the right behaviors part of our “common daily business,” and model healthy practices, the more we hope students will work with us to do the same—and even take the lead in helping their peers.

 

Safety remains an overarching priority in this time of pandemic. But teaching, learning, and connecting in this inimitable community is our reason for being. We cherish, and yearn to return to, what we love about SJA — the traditions, habits of life, and simple joys. Our serious and shared commitment to the successful opening of school for Fall 2020, and our understanding that we share the responsibility for that success despite the risks of the moment, are what will make our return possible.


SJA Virtual Meeting — 8/27/2020

with Headmaster Dr. Sharon Howell

We had another successful Virtual Meeting via Zoom Thursday evening. Again, your feedback helps guide us as we continue communicating about our reopening plans, and will help keep us focused on important details as we try to understand what this year will look like.

 

If you were unable to join us, here’s a video of the entire session.


Staying Safe at SJA

We’ve created this new video to help demonstrate our plans and guidelines for safe physical distancing, classroom cleaning, and morning check-in. We are committed to doing what is necessary to keep our students, faculty, and staff safe while on campus.


Updates to Academy Families

from Headmaster Dr. Sharon Howell

Update to Academy Families — September 25, 2020

Dear St. Johnsbury Academy Families,

 

As many of you know, this week the Vermont State Agency of Education announced that because of the state’s enduringly low rate of transmission and small number of cases of COVID-19, schools would shift health and safety practices to what ”Strong and Healthy Start“ school opening guidelines called “Step III.” To remind folks, Step I on this scale would feature all-remote learning; and Step II (where we opened) would feature enhanced public health measures such as social distancing, reduced density in classrooms and on campus, limited gatherings, limited indoor space use, and no interscholastic athletic competition.

 

I want to emphasize that moving to Step III will not mean many changes for St. Johnsbury Academy, given our specific circumstances: we still need to keep low density in the classrooms; still need to wear masks; still need to monitor our ventilation and air movement, etc. We will remain in hybrid learning mode, continue to do health screenings for all who come to campus, and follow the guidance of the AoE’s own Child Nutrition Program[1] by not making substantive changes to daily lunch service.

 

There will be a few places, though, where we can use a little latitude to make changes that benefit students — for example, students in Career and Technical Education classes will have more in-person time to work on projects; students in performing arts such as dance and theater, and clubs such as Robotics and Creative Writing, will be able to begin meeting more in-person; and athletic teams will be able to begin playing games against other schools.

 

We know that this last is very exciting news for teams and student-athletes who have been working out and practicing together for weeks — and for families, friends, and fans. We’re eager to make the most of the opportunity to have a season of competition for our fall sports, and are committed to doing this in a way that aligns with all of the careful safety measures we have taken and continue to take campuswide. Athletic Director John Lenzini and his staff — Assistant AD Ben Davis, all the fall coaches—are working to develop plans for games, matches, and meets within a safe travel radius, spectator rules that conform to state guidelines, and a schedule that will allow for as substantial a season as possible. Please stay tuned for more information about SJA Athletics plans.

 

A few more updates about the coming week:

 

  • Interim Grade Reports: you will be receiving interim grades for your students next week, Wednesday, September 30th, and where there is a need for teachers to communicate further with you, you will receive a narrative report along with the grade. These will be emailed, sent in hard copy, and also posted to the ParentPlus portal.

 

  • “Meet the Teachers Night” Conferences: To give you the opportunity to connect with teachers more personally, faculty will be holding short Zoom conferences between 3:30pm and 9:00pm on Thursday, October 8th. Please mark your calendars, and look for our invitation and sign-up instructions early next week as well.

 

  • Attendance: Please make sure that your students are attending their classes on time, in appropriate clothing, and ready to engage every day on Zoom when they are at home, whatever cohort they belong to. 

 

As always, thank you for trusting us with your wonderful students — they lift us up and make us glad to be here every day. This is not an easy time anywhere in the world, but we feel fortunate to be in this safe, beautiful part of the country, building a community of health, creativity, curiosity, and kindness together. You are a huge part of why we’re able to do that. In the coming days and weeks there will be some challenging conversations that need to happen here, as they will in schools across the country, about how we build mutual respect and show integrity in a world whose discourse seeks to divide us. We hope you will also be part of this effort to encourage constructive dialogue and common ground among our students. Thank you for the support, take care, and keep in touch.

 

Gratefully,

 

Dr. Sharon Howell

Headmaster

 

 

[1] From Rosie Krueger, State Director of Child Nutrition Programs, Vermont Agency of Education:

“When schools transition from Step II to Step III, students may again eat in the cafeteria with specific precautions. However, administrators and food service directors are advised to carefully consider this option before making any change. If the current model of meals in the classroom is working well, it may be disruptive to return to the cafeteria. In addition, if schools need to move back to Step II quickly at a later date, changing back could be even more disruptive. Among other options, schools can consider continuing meals in the classroom for breakfast or lunch, while using the cafeteria for the other meal. Schools could also have students go to the cafeteria to get their meals before returning to the classroom to eat – an option that is already allowed under Step II.”

Update to Academy Families — September 18, 2020

Dear St. Johnsbury Academy Families,

 

As we finish our second week of school, I want to thank you all for your continued help with keeping the Academy strong. You and your students are helping us to understand better what we need to do to be effective hybrid teachers, and you are also helping us focus on what’s most important right now: making the most of our time together. We’ve all done a lot of growing in the last few weeks, and it’s made clearer than ever how meaningful it is to teach students not only subject matter in History and Math, not only skills such as writing and presenting, but also simply how to learn for themselves and be open to change.

 

You should have received some communications from us recently about accessing Academy resources and partnering with us toward the success of your students. I hope you will be in touch with us in the meantime with any questions about how to use these resources, which can help you be more involved with your students’ progress if you wish to be. More will also come to you this coming week about connecting with teachers as we approach the first interim point of the semester. Here are a few updates for you.

 

  • Advisors: As you know, we have intentionally surrounded each student with adults who will be watching their progress and who are available to talk with you should you be concerned about something to do with your child’s experience. We do our best to talk among ourselves, too, to make sure we’re offering the appropriate support for whatever students are grappling with at different moments. The Advisor — with whom students meet every morning — is a critical member of that team of adults that can include classroom teachers, department chairs, Class Deans, Campus Life, counselors, coaches, and many others. If you don’t know the name of your student’s Advisor, please ask — most advisors will have introduced themselves to you, but it’s good for you and your student both to establish a strong and trusting relationship with this key person.

 

  • Attendance and Engagement: Please stay tuned for some more details on Monday about attendance — we are trying to take into account the challenges that many students and teachers have had over the last weeks connecting over Zoom and getting acclimated to the online environment, so we are giving some latitude for all. But we also want everyone to remember that students also need to attend Zoom school, and we are keeping track of online attendance as much as in person. The more you can impress upon your students that they need to be on time and ready to go, the better. We also need to be conscious of contact tracing needs, and for a number of different reasons, to understand clearly who is here and who is not. Thank you for your help with this.

 

  • Health Checks at Home: Day families, please remember to ask students how they’re feeling before they leave home, so they can stay home if they have symptoms.

 

  • Our Hybrid Model: We have confidence in what we’ve put in place for students and staff to be on campus safely this term. We know how excited everyone is to be here, and also that the State of Vermont has suggested that there’s a possibility that we will move to “Step III” in their health and safety guidelines at some point during this fall. Our COVID Response Team is keeping abreast of these reassessments, but we also understand that, apart from some effects on athletic competitions, Step III wouldn’t change too much about what our life on campus would look like. So we want families to know that we are committed to continuing with this low-density strategy throughout the semester. We’ll talk more and in more detail about this in the future, but we want to make sure everyone knows that we think our schedule and calendar work, and we’ve put them in place thoughtfully. We expect to stay with both even though we will adjust elements within our framework as we learn more.

 

Thanks to everyone for your partnership, as usual, and never hesitate to be in touch with questions and ideas. And remember to thank the hardworking faculty and staff who are keeping us positive and making this a wonderful place for your students.

 

Gratefully,

 

Dr. Sharon Howell

Headmaster

Update to Academy Families — August 28, 2020

Dear St. Johnsbury Academy Families,

 

Today’s update will be the last of its kind. As of next week, we will transition back to the Academy’s more regular communication mechanism, which is the Monday weekly newsletter with a message from the Headmaster. I won’t hesitate to communicate urgent or timely information — and this year there will likely be a need to — but I want to recognize that these Friday letters have served as a way for us to share the ongoing progress of our hardworking Administrative team, COVID response task forces and teams, and many other dedicated staff groups as they have planned and prepared for the moment that has now come.

 

This week we welcomed our faculty and staff back to campus, and spent the last five days learning about what will be required for life on the Academy campus to resume, and for good teaching to happen in our classrooms and Zoom rooms. We held advisory meetings, health and safety information sessions, IT training, and workshops about teaching concurrent online and in-person classes; and departments spent time adapting their courses and adjusting their mindsets toward this new mode of engaging our students. After listening in on their work, and hearing from department chairs and other faculty about how they are digging in to the challenge of this unusual semester, I am not only confident and humbled by the work ahead, but also excited.

 

So, what I will leave you with today is what I know for sure from the lessons of this week with staff and teachers: there is nothing St. Johnsbury Academy wants more than to have students back on campus. After all the preparation, we can’t wait to begin working, academically and otherwise, with these inimitably energetic and extraordinary young people. In the barrage of technical information, guidelines, and protocols that we have had to contend with for weeks, we have not lost track of how intrinsically joyful teaching and learning is and should be, and how eager we are to have that joy back in our school. It’s what all the planning has been for, and it’s what inspires us to do the best we can to make this school year possible.

 

Much more information about next week’s Orientation (scroll down the page) and the logistics of school life is on both the student portal and the Opening Roadmap, which will be updated with some new FAQs from last night’s Zoom. You will also be hearing directly from Campus Life about things like lunch, and soon you will make contact or reconnect with your student’s advisor—the one who helps connect and make sense of the different aspects of your student’s school experience. 

 

Thank you, as always, for trusting us with your students, especially in this pandemic time — we will take good care of them. And remember that to care for and protect each other, we are counting on our mutual commitment as a community and our steady partnership with you.

 

Until Monday,

 

Dr. Sharon Howell

Headmaster

Update to Academy Families — August 21, 2020

Dear St. Johnsbury Academy Families,

 

As our boarding students start moving happily out of their quarantines and into their dorm rooms, and maintenance crews do some final upgrades to campus facilities, we are getting ready to welcome back our faculty and staff this coming Monday. All next week we will be meeting — masked, distanced, and in limited groups — to reconnect and get accustomed to the many things that will be different this semester. We know the week is going to teach us a lot, even as we train faculty and staff to follow our new protocols and help make sure teachers are ready to teach in the complex new environment we have designed. What we learn will help us to adjust and understand where we need to reimagine things before students arrive on the 31st. And it is exciting and moving to all of us to be starting the year together after the upheavals of the last few months.

 

We know, and have articulated often, that we are in this together — that we will need to partner across every group in the community to make the school year work. But every day, as our work begins in person, that fact becomes more and more clear. Along with encouraging safe habits with your kids, we hope you will help us in a couple of important ways—by remaining flexible and understanding as we adapt in real-time to a changing reality, and by staying in touch with us and sharing your concerns and questions. We will always be doing our best to offer timely and comprehensive information and updates, and we hope you will continue to support and uplift our efforts, while also understanding that we won’t always get it right.

 

That said, I have faith that the precautions we’re taking will help us stay safe, and that the hard work of so many here to anticipate and address every kind of challenge will finally pay off when our community is back together again. We can’t wait.

 

A few updates about academics, athletics, and future opportunities to hear from you.

 

1. We will host another Zoom forum for families next Thursday, August 27th, at 7pm. Please join us with your questions about Orientation week and other start-of-school issues. A Zoom link will follow next week.

 

2. From our athletic director, John Lenzini:

 

As mentioned in last week’s letter, athletics are slated to begin fall practices on September 8th. Athletes and coaches will participate in practices (and eventually competition, if allowed) in facial coverings, with the exception of cross-country athletes, who are permitted to remove their masks only while running.

 

A very important point of clarification regarding the ‘step’ guidance that determines the allowance for athletic practice versus competition: The Agency of Education, not the VPA, will determine the guidance step for all schools in the state. Schools are opening under AOE step 2 and would notionally be moved to step 3 of guidance after two weeks of safe school operation. These steps do not determine the delivery of curriculum for schools — hybrid, in-person, etc. — but guide/suggest safety protocols. Schools determine the best-fit model for their academic day.

 

That said, a step 3 announcement would indicate that schools’ athletic teams are permitted to compete interscholastically. At this point, the AOE has projected that the earliest date for competition would be the week of September 28th.

 

Most sports, with 7v7 football and golf being the notable exceptions, would simply pick up their schedules from the time competition is allowed, and missed games will not be made up. Over the course of the next days, sport-specific guidelines will be published outlining any modifications for competition (i.e. cross-country races will move from mass starts to interval starts).

 

We’ll keep you posted when we know more.

 

3. Finally, I am sorry to report that long-serving faculty member and most recently Dean of Academics Bill Vinton, who has occupied multiple roles at the school over 41 years, has decided to retire, and will not be with us for this school year. He has worked hard in recent months particularly in credit recovery for students after the spring, and we wish him the best in his well-deserved retirement.

 

For the time being, I myself will be taking on the leadership duties in academics, supervising the Curriculum Committee (department heads from across the school). You have probably already seen the excellent staff — such as Sean Murphy, who has been heroic in developing our master schedule — who support the rich academic life that is central to our mission. I am grateful for them.

 

Remember to check our Fall 2020 School Opening Roadmap for updates as well, and never hesitate to leave me a message there or email me at showell@stjacademy.org.

 

Yours Gratefully,

 

Dr. Sharon Howell

Headmaster

Update to Academy Families — August 14, 2020

Dear St. Johnsbury Academy Families,

 

Over the last few days, students from around the world have been arriving here in St. Johnsbury, welcomed warmly — from a distance — by SJA faculty and staff who are overjoyed to see them. These students, from Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, are quarantining in the Maple Center under the care of Health Services Director Sarah Garey and the residential life team — they have food delivery to their doors, daily health checks, quick distanced visits, and Zooms with friends and family. In the coming days, they will complete their quarantines and tests and move into the dorms, where they will join our dorm staff and friends until orientations begin on the 31st.

 

We often remark on how brave our international students and their families are — students coming so far to be part of our community, and parents sharing their precious kids with us — so we are especially grateful for the extraordinary trust our families have placed in us during this global pandemic. That said, our students have landed in a real oasis here — our campus is green, clean, and tidy, and our Vermont county and region are among the safest places in the country, if not the world. And if all, including domestic and day students, are as fastidious about following our protocols for safe return as these students have been, we will be in great shape.

 

Today’s update is about that safe return, and what it means for us in the next few weeks. All faculty and staff will be back on campus in about 10 days and will spend a solid week training and completing the professional development that their colleagues have planned over the summer. As we all gear up for reassembling, I want to share the latest updates from the state and from our COVID Response Team, let you know about our next opportunity to connect in real-time, and ask you to consider the important agreement we are making with each other as we start this unusual year.

 

Community Commitment: As I mentioned last week, throughout our planning process, we have been weighing our need for some sort of agreement among ourselves — a mutual commitment to each other’s safety to undergird our effort to make this fall work. Instead of the common waiver form that smothers such an agreement in conditions and admonitions, we are asking that each member of our community instead make a collective commitment to some very clear, specific measures in service of our health and safety. This “Fall 2020 Community Commitment” can be found here (scroll down after accessing the page).

 

  • COVID Response Team Updates: Please read the important updates from the COVID Response Team below.

 

  • Athletics: On Tuesday, the state released new guidelines for our athletics department to interpret for our athletes, who we know are eager to understand what the fall season will look like. We are glad that the state is making an effort to help our students play on their teams and stay fit and healthy while also taking proper precautions. Please head to the VT Dept. of Health and Vermont Principals Association websites for more details, but the big picture for the fall is this:

 

    1. All sports will run, but in no or low contact forms — i.e. 7 on 7 touch football, and adjusted rules for contact in soccer and field hockey.

    2. All athletes will be required to wear masks at all times, except cross-country runners during races.

    3.  We will begin practices on, but not before, our first day of school, September 8th.

    4. Unless we are directed to move to what the state is calling “Step III” of the Strong and Healthy Start guidelines, interscholastic competitions will not be held.

    5. There will be limited spectators, with distancing requirements, if we do move to Step III and hold competitions.

    6. Please contact our Athletic Director, John Lenzini, at jlenzini@stjacademy.org, with any questions about our plans.

 

  • Orientation Schedules and Video Previews: Orientation schedules and other student life information will go out from our Campus Life Team early next week. These will include date and time details and some helpful videos made by some of our student leaders to show what a typical day will look like on campus — arriving in the morning with a temperature screen, walking in “one-way” hallways, grab and go lunch, and life inside a COVID-safe classroom. For your planning purposes, the orientation days will go by class year.

 

    1. Monday, August 31st: Freshmen A-K

    2. Tuesday, September 1st: Freshmen L-Z

    3.  Wednesday, September 2nd: Sophomores

    4. Thursday, September 3rd: Juniors

    5.  Friday, September 4th: Seniors

 

  • Zoom Forum: We will hold another forum for families on Thursday, August 27th, prior to orientations on the 31st. Please remember to keep checking our Reopening Road Map site as we respond to updates from the state, and communicate new information you need.

 

Thank you all, as ever, for your help and support as we continue to adapt our plans to a volatile reality. And as usual, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via the website, email, or phone (802-748-8171) if and when you have questions. 

 

Yours Gratefully,

 

Dr. Sharon Howell

Headmaster

 


Updates from the COVID Response Team

 

Student/Family Travel Guidelines

 

Students and families should avoid non-essential travel to a quarantine county (as identified by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development) during the school year.

 

In order to protect the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and the community, all students traveling outside of Vermont and returning to the St. Johnsbury Academy campus must follow one of the health protocols below:

 

 

 

 

The Agency of Commerce and Community Development updates out-of-state travel information each Friday. Updated information can be found here.

 

Guide to Boarding Student Travel to SJA

 

Non-essential travel to a quarantine county (as identified by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development) will be restricted during the school year.

 

In order to protect the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and the community, all boarding students returning to the St. Johnsbury Academy campus must follow one of the health protocols below:

 

 

 

The Tinker Health Center: We have moved the operations of our Health Center, under Director Sarah Garey, to new space in what has been the Tinker House dorm. This new space will allow us to have dedicated rooms for isolation or quarantine, separate entrances for symptomatic and other students, more private counseling space, and more control over ventilation.

 

Facilities updates — HVAC, deep cleaning, and signage: Our Facilities team, led by Kurt Zschau, has been going above and beyond to meet evolving standards for air quality, disinfection, and campus navigation. An update from Kurt:

 

Cleaning/Sanitizing Protocols — The custodial team will increase the frequency of cleaning bathrooms and other high traffic zones to a minimum of three times per day. Every classroom will be sanitized between each class. Routine campus-wide cleaning will occur throughout the day and with an evening shift.

 

Interior Space Protocols — The maintenance team has been operating existing ventilation equipment with recommended damper controls. Daily maintenance checks and increased filter changes are part of the routine. The Academy has purchased additional window fans and 100 HEPA air purifiers to be deployed in most classrooms and offices to supplement and enhance natural ventilation. We anticipate building controls audits and rebalancing of existing systems to be completed in the coming weeks.

 

Continuous improvements on all fronts is our battle cry!

 

Response to campus infection: Even though we are in a very safe area, it is reasonable to assume that we will have a case of COVID-19 in the school community at some point. In that event, we will follow protocols developed with the help of infectious disease experts — including dedicated isolation space, testing, and contact tracing — and work closely with the Vermont Department of Health and our local health partners to determine a response in accordance with the state’s guidelines. Health officials will take the lead on contact tracing and testing, and help our staff and administrators to weigh options for response. We and they have significant constraints about what can be shared publicly about an individual’s health, so it is important to understand that different situations may call for different responses from us, and a positive case in the community will not automatically be considered cause for emergency action. At the same time, we will not hesitate to move school online — something we are prepared to do smoothly — if we determine that is the appropriate response. As we shared in our original plan, we will consider a number of variables as we decide on that response including our capacity to continue operations and care properly for students.

Update to Academy Families — August 7, 2020

Dear St. Johnsbury Academy Families,

 

What a pleasure to see the nearly 175 of you who joined me and members of the SJA administration on Zoom Wednesday evening. Your feedback from that call will guide us as we continue communicating about our reopening plans, and will help keep us focused on important details as we try to understand what this year will look like. Thanks to the many talented professionals here, we’ve been comprehensive in our thinking so far, and can answer many specific questions now. But as thorough as we’ve been, none of us is an expert on how to open a school during a pandemic — so we want to hear all the thoughtful perspectives we can.

 

On that note: here is the final question we received on Wednesday’s parent call:

 

What…role [can] parents play in making this successful? What do you want from us? We are hundreds of skilled people at your service. What can we do?

 

I was grateful to hear so clearly that you are eager to help us succeed. And I was grateful to be able to reiterate how critical your help is as we model behaviors and practices that will reduce risk on campus when we return on the 31st. One of you asked how your kids who are in higher grades can help as well—as leaders to whom younger kids are looking for cues. They sure can, and we’re counting on them; we will do our best to show them how. Seeing school leaders like Sierra Shippee and many others working with the freshmen during HALO last week, we were so encouraged by their leadership, and we know that many others will also step up and be models.

 

And I do have a specific request. There is time between now and the start of school for you and your families to build mask-wearing and distancing, awkward as they can be, into daily life. Please help us normalize these behaviors — and indeed, to explain the rationale for the measures we are taking — and please let us know what you need from us to help you do that. We have ideas, but we are always looking for more.

 

1 .Family Zoom forum Monday, August 24th: We will hold another forum in a couple of weeks, with a time TBA. In the meantime, I’ll continue these Friday updates, and please remember to visit our Reopening Road Map site for many up-to-date details and FAQs based on your questions, and please submit your questions to me via the form on the site as well.

 

2. Green and White Schedules and Fridays: We have used the alphabet as a starting point to build our Green and White cohorts, who will attend school in person, on campus, on alternate days from Monday-Thursday. All will be online on Friday mornings. We will balance the numbers in each cohort based on multiple factors such as section size, family coordination, resident student attendance, and other specific needs — but by and large you can assume your cohort from your last name. Here is how the week will look:

    1. Monday and Wednesday: Green Cohort (approximately A-K) on campus; White Cohort (approximately L-Z) online.

    2. Tuesday and Thursday: White Cohort ( L-Z) on campus; Green Cohort (A-K) online.

    3. Fridays: mornings online with abbreviated class periods, from 8am-12:30 pm; afternoon optional projects starting at 1:30 pm for students in CTE, Arts, and other hands-on courses.

 

More details will follow about Fridays. We are reaching out to those students with specific needs to make sure they are accommodated properly, including those with internet access difficulties (see below). We have clear parameters to determine those students who will be on campus daily.

 

3. Internet Access: We are conscious of those students who have struggled with reliable internet access, and have a few possible ways to mitigate this:

    1. Students without internet service will be able to come to campus daily, and on online days will join their classes remotely from a designated, supervised area on campus. Again, we will reach out to those of you we are aware of, but please reach out to us if this is a hardship for you.

    2. Students could access the internet from alternate spaces in communities such as libraries, that are nearer their homes. We know of some of these spaces, and will share when we know more.

    3.  The Department of Public Service has introduced the Line Extension Customer Assistance Program (“LECAP”) provides up to $3000 in assistance to qualifying and eligible consumers who seek to extend telecommunications lines to their homes. Hundreds of Vermonters without 25/3 Mbps broadband service live just beyond the reach of current cable and other Internet Service Providers’ networks. We hope this might help connect some families.

 

We know that there are other aspects of our plan that you are curious about, and we are trying to communicate those that are most timely in these updates — but our COVID Response Team is also preparing more information about quarantines, testing, contact tracing, and response to campus infection, and they will be communicating that directly with you as these plans are finalized. You will also be hearing about Orientation schedules and other student life information from our Campus Life Team.

 

Thank you again for your eagerness to help make in-person school possible in this uncertain and ever-shifting environment. Remember that Vermont remains an extraordinarily safe place to be, and keeping it that way will require resolving to look out for one another and follow the good science-based guidance we are being offered. To make sure we start with a clear understanding of the mutual care and responsibility we will be expecting of all members of the St. Johnsbury Academy community, next Friday I will be sending you what we’re calling our “Community Commitment.” We hope to provide some guiding principles for us to assume in anticipation of this year’s challenges—although we also recognize that most of these principles guide us whenever we are at our best. There is just no amount of rule-making and policy enforcement around COVID-19 that will substitute for the kind of culture that helps us understand our reliance upon one another. So stay tuned for that.

 

In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via the website, email, or phone (802-748-8171) if and when you have questions.

 

Yours Gratefully,

 

Dr. Sharon L. Howell

Headmaster

Update to Academy Families — July 31, 2020

Dear St. Johnsbury Academy Families ,

 

This past Sunday, Academy staff welcomed 50 incoming freshmen to the HALO orientation program, where kids start getting to know the campus, meeting their teachers, and hearing some of the important messages we hope will resonate with them now and throughout their time here. Students gathered for a cookout-style dinner prepared by Chef Hale (where at least one new student was introduced to the wonder of bread pudding) — wearing masks when not eating, and sitting at proper distances around the amphitheater. Our evening speaker reminded us to live generously with one another, and both to be and to surround ourselves with supportive and positive people. I know the HALO teachers continued to convey these important messages throughout the week, in kind words and deeds.

 

It was heartening to see in miniature what it will look like for us this fall to welcome students in the morning with health screenings, to maneuver around campus to classes and activities safely across the school day. As odd (and challenging) as it may initially feel to stay distanced and masked, we are without a doubt adaptable creatures. Psychologists say it takes about two weeks to form a new habit; but when everyone is participating, it takes much less than that. Many of us feel new excitement and optimism about our ability to bring students back to live and learn together while still staying safe.

 

Today’s updates are brief but important.

 

  1. Read the Reopening Plan: Some of you have asked where you can find a clear description of our plan for reopening. Please try our Reopening Road Map site for an overview and up-to-date details.

  2. Governor’s Order on Reopening: We were relieved to hear that our current plan to have students arrive on campus for orientations will not have to change in order to fit yesterday’s executive order from Governor Scott that directs schools to open for instruction “on, but not before, September 8th.” The Agency of Education has assured us that we can still hold our orientations the week of August 31st, and then begin classes on September 8th.

  3. Important Travel Information: I want to share some important travel information from the COVID Response team, which highlights new requirements we will have in place around travel in order to make returning to school possible. We are asking you to limit all unnecessary travel during the school year to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. If traveling on the weekend, we ask that you consult the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development’s COVID-19 Cross State Travel Information to see if the area you are traveling to requires a quarantine period upon return. Anyone who travels to the places listed in yellow, orange, or red will be required to quarantine upon their return. For those of you living in the dorms, our first students will arrive on August 7 for their quarantine. We ask that you plan accordingly to not travel anywhere that will require you to quarantine after August 7th. Note that we are requiring that families adhere to the Vermont quarantine and testing guidelines, and we want to make sure no one misses the start of school on August 31st for this reason. These policies will continue to apply throughout the semester, to assure that students will not miss school because of quarantine requirements.

  4. Parent Survey and Zoom Forum: You can still access our parent survey, and we will be sending it out by text to reach more of you; we will leave it open until next Tuesday. Thank you to those who have already completed it. We will hold a forum for parents to hear more about our plans and to ask questions about them in real-time, on Wednesday evening at 7pm. The link to the Zoom will follow early next week.

 

School reopening remains a topic of constant conversation in the news; if anything, there are even more articles and opinions about it than ever, and the uncertainty and uncharted nature of this moment are profound. But I want to remind everyone again how fortunate we are to be where we are — and that to get back in school we need to keep being smart about taking care of ourselves and each other. As a new Vermonter, I couldn’t be more grateful to have such responsible neighbors.

 

Thank you for reading; we’ll have more details each week about our plans, and hope these updates are helpful. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via the website, email, or phone (802-748-8171) if and when you have questions.

 

Thank you as ever for trusting us, and I look forward to hearing from and seeing you soon,

 

Dr. Sharon L. Howell

Headmaster

Update to Academy Families — July 24, 2020

Dear St. Johnsbury Academy Families,

 

It is a green and tranquil midsummer here on the Academy campus, even as we continue to prepare for students to arrive in just five weeks. Staff here are setting up our classrooms with the right technology, figuring out our traffic flow with “one way” signs, painting our window frames and bell towers so they gleam white, finalizing our SJA “Virtual Academy” plans, investigating outdoor spaces for teaching, and getting ready for the arrival of 50 new freshmen who will participate in the HALO pre-orientation program in-person, on campus, next week. We are most excited to have them here and to start introducing them to all they can look forward to at SJA — an added benefit is that they (and we!) will get a sneak preview of what our school days will be like when everyone is here in the fall. 

 

I have a few short updates to share today, and an invitation to share some feedback with us about how you’re feeling about the return to school.

 

First, I want to emphasize that one of our important guiding principles, alongside the absolute priority of keeping our community healthy, is that to be successful in our reopening we must remain flexible and ready to adjust our plans. That flexibility, alongside care of the community, is what will get us through the shifting realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are drawing this map as we go; and as we understand more about what our opening will require, and receive your feedback and questions, we may make adjustments such as the one to the schedule below. We’re also putting new structures into place that will help us to keep adapting well, keep the community informed, and make sure our guidance is easy to understand and follow.

 

1. More regular weekly schedule — In an effort to make our schedule more predictable and easier to manage week to week, instead of rotating our green and white groups every other day, we will do the following:

  1. One group will join us on campus Mondays and Wednesdays, and the other group on Tuesdays and Thursdays, each week.
  2. On Fridays, all students (except boarding students and those with specific needs) will join remotely for classes, chances to connect with faculty and advisors for office hours, and other online activities.

 

2. COVID Response Team — We have established a team of campus life, health center, and facilities staff who will be continuing to develop protocols and clear guidance for all of us around community wellness. They will be sending weekly messages to you about such health and safety measures as response to infection on campus, guidance about travel before and during the school year, mental health support, and updates from the Vermont Department of Health. The team consists of myself and:

  1. Beth Choiniere, Assistant Head for Campus Life
  2. Jack Driscoll, Dean of Students
  3. Sarah Garey, Director of Health Services
  4. Kurt Zschau, Director of Facilities

Please look for the first COVID Response Team message early next week.

 

3. Hearing from You — We are very eager to hear from you, since any plan we devise will only work with your help. We ask that you fill out this very brief survey (should take 1 minute) and share with us what you are hoping for, concerned about, and planning on for the school year. We would love your responses before next Wednesday, July 29th. Remember that you can also write directly to me through our Reopening Roadmap website. We will hold parent Zoom forums to address your questions and hear your thoughts on Thursday the 30th and Friday the 31st (time details to follow). 

 

With the deluge of news about COVID outbreaks around the country, I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that we live in a region of the country that is being lauded for its response to the pandemic; that Vermont has one of the lowest case counts in the country; and that St. Johnsbury Academy is in a county that has had very few cases since March. This is a safe place, and we can make it safer when we are diligent about doing what science tells us will stop the spread of the virus – including wearing masks, washing hands, physical distancing, and getting fresh air. I hope we can partner in doing these simple things, and be a community that stays well — if we do, we can enjoy more and more time together on campus. 

 

Thank you for trusting us, and I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you soon,

 

Dr. Sharon L. Howell

Headmaster

Update to Academy Boarding Student Families — July 17, 2020

Dear St. Johnsbury Academy Families,

 

I am pleased today to share some important details about our plans for reopening St. Johnsbury Academy safely and vibrantly this fall. Our faculty and staff teams have been working hard in recent weeks to develop thoughtful, responsible, and balanced plans for reopening in accordance with the Vermont Department of Health and Agency of Education Guidance for A Strong and Healthy Start, CDC guidelines, other official and expert advice, and the good thinking that is happening across the world. Opening schools safely is a topic of intense national and international debate right now, so we are not alone in grappling with how to welcome kids back to campus—which we are excited to do, and know is right for their continued well-being and progress—while still staying safe and protecting our communities.

 

One size does not fit all when it comes to creating reasonable plans. Much of our work has been to understand what the current crisis will require from St. Johnsbury Academy, in particular, and to adapt and interpret official public health mandates to fit the Academy’s unique daily life, culture, and mission. Our planning has been in four general areas: Health and Safety, Academic and Campus Life, Residential Life, and Communication. This letter will explain and offer details about:

 

  • The health and safety measures we are putting in place
  • Plans to reduce the density of people on campus in the fall
  • The daily, weekly, and yearly Academy schedules
  • Our hybrid model of teaching and learning
  • Plans for ongoing communication

 

We hope the plans we’re outlining here will provide helpful grounding and clarity as we prepare to come together in the fall and help you understand the path we are creating to open for the 2020-2021 school year. We have created a special section of the website, Fall 2020 School Opening Roadmap, and hope you will use it as a primary tool to find up-to-date information and answers to your general and more specific questions. We want to help make these plans as clear as we can.

 

Health and Safety

 

You’ve told us that your keenest concern is about the nature and extent of the measures we are putting in place to protect the health and safety of the community, and that is our most important guiding consideration. Our plan is to put in place and monitor comprehensive measures regarding recommended use of physical spaces and campus facilities, screening and reporting policies, and changes in on-campus behaviors, some of which are now familiar to all and some of which will require orientation and education. These measures meet and exceed the recommendations of the Vermont Department of Health, and include:

 

  • Mask wearing—We will require all faculty, staff, and students to wear facial coverings while in buildings, as well as in other settings or outside where reasonable physical distancing cannot be maintained. Adults dropping off and picking up students should wear facial coverings. Instructions for making, wearing, and washing facial coverings can be found on the CDC website. We ask that students bring their own masks, but we will be providing reusable masks at orientation and disposable masks throughout the year as they are needed.
  • Hand washing—additional hand-washing stations and hand sanitizer will be installed in classrooms, dorms, and other public spaces.
  • Social distancing—we will expect all to practice social distancing. We are reconfiguring classrooms and other spaces to allow for reasonable distancing, and analyzing what that means for our dining hall, field house, buses, and larger public spaces.
  • Limited gatherings—we will follow evolving state guidelines and consider the limitations of our physical spaces in limiting the number of people allowed to gather.
  • Use of outdoor spaces—our faculty and staff are looking at options for conducting classes and activities outdoors when possible as research shows being in fresh air mitigates the spread of the virus.
  • Evaluating HVAC systems and ventilation—there is good guidance and support for improving systems to conduct and circulate fresh air indoors.
  • Increased disinfecting and cleaning—our facilities team has already put protocols in place for cleaning and disinfecting at the recommended levels and frequencies.
  • Daily screening—all boarding students will be screened in their dorms daily for temperature and symptoms of COVID-19 before leaving the dorm—staff and faculty will continue to self-screen and report.
  • Encouraging staying home when sick—we will insist that boarding students with any symptoms related to COVID-19 be isolated and cared for in a dedicated spot away from the center of campus with private baths, proctor presence, and access to pediatric care until they have recovered and can return to school. Faculty, staff, and day students will be required to return home if symptoms are present and seek medical support from their primary doctors.
  • Testing, quarantine, and travel restrictions—we are planning to stagger arrival of boarding students within a timeframe that will enable them to quarantine according to state mandates.
  • Response to infection on campus—we are developing our response to infection on campus and will work closely with the Department of Health on those protocols. Please visit our website for information about our considerations for deciding when it will be necessary to cancel some activities, move online temporarily, or close school for a period of time. We have good quarantine space available for boarding students and will be working to “cohort” students in groups to limit contact and exposure.
  • Reduce the density of people on campus (more on this in “Academic and Campus Life Programs”)—to limit the number of students on campus per day, boarding students will attend classes every day while most day students will attend school in-person on campus every other day.
  • Traffic flow and campus signage—we are analyzing how to limit movement during the day, control traffic flow through campus, and post clear signs across campus and in buildings to help guide students to follow health and safety protocols.
  • Transportation—we will be limiting off-campus trips and most field trips.
  • Visitors—we will be strictly limiting visitors to campus.

 

The facilities group, health center staff, and campus life staff are staying abreast of current guidelines and recommendations. Many of these preparations and enhancements have already been made, and protocols are already being followed by staff and those on campus for summer programs.

 

Academic and Campus Life Programs

 

Our goal is to have all students attend school, whether on campus or virtually, every day—and we will be expecting those online to join their classes virtually in real-time, and they will be accountable for attending and engaging in class. This strategy will allow us to move temporarily fully online, or open to more students should conditions allow it. It also means that students have school every day, so unlike in the spring, they will have routines and daily required participation.

 

We plan to start our school year on August 31st, beginning with enhanced, required student orientation programming before the start of classes. During the week of August 31st, students will work with teachers and advisors to become accustomed to the new norms and expectations as well as be reminded of the standards of campus culture we will continue to expect. Academic classes will begin in full on September 8th. Many elements of the school day will remain the same, as will the contours of the fall semester schedule.

 

Please see our 2020-2021 school calendar for more important dates in the upcoming school year.

 

The past spring semester taught us a lot about what remote learning looks like, and exposed some significant issues around equity, access, and quality of experience. While some students thrived, others struggled more to adapt to or to participate in the remote curriculum.

 

Teachers have been involved in the development of the fall schedule and curriculum and are working hard to create versions of courses that are robust, engaging, and prioritize building skills and developing capacities within this new hybrid mode. Many have already worked with recognized experts in online and hybrid teaching and will continue professional development through the summer and throughout the fall semester. We also have in-house expertise in learning technology and will continue to help teachers to integrate it into their work with students. The school as a whole will:

 

  • Adapt our curriculum to a hybrid learning model—day students will attend school on campus, in person, every other day while boarding students will attend school on campus daily. Day students will be divided into cohorts, so that roughly 50% of the student body is on campus each day. On alternate days, day students will attend school online, joining their classes using a hybrid model of combined in-class and virtual attendance.
  • Offer a recognizable school day schedule with five 70-minute periods, and 4 classes per semester.
  • Prepare for courses to be taught 100% online if necessary or preferable by developing each course in the curriculum to be available on Canvas (our learning platform) and to be designed to a high standard.
  • Offer 100% online courses in the early mornings and evenings for international students and day students who may need to remain off-campus for health or other considerations.
  • Explore offering students with specific and special needs—including those in Special Education or with internet access challenges—the opportunity to be on campus daily.
  • Determine, acquire, and deploy appropriate classroom and personal technology to enable combined in-person and online learning.
  • Reconfigure, replace, or reschedule courses that are not possible to run online.
  • Provide engaging afternoon enrichment activities for all.
  • Follow the Department of Health guidelines regarding athletic competition. Although decisions about formal competition will come at a later date, we will continue to hold team sports practices, team fitness, scrimmaging, and offer other intramural modes to support the health and wellness of our students.

 

Residential Life Program

 

We saw in the spring that our residential life staff and the nature of our facilities make it possible for us to care exceptionally well for our boarding students and to keep them safe in a crisis. It helps that Vermont has been from the start one of the safest places in the country, and has both taken its responsibility to protect its citizens seriously and followed the advice of public health professionals in designing its statewide requirements for pandemic response. Our town and Caledonia County continue to be among the three or four safest places in the state.

 

We hope and believe that, by guiding students and families arriving from other parts of the country and world carefully around arrival, quarantining, testing, and other mandated health measures, we will create a safe and healthy living environment for our boarding students within our larger school community. As we’ve shared above, careful and well-understood protocols will help us to avoid spread in the event of infection on campus, and in case a boarding student should become ill, we have the capacity to provide medical care for them in isolation and then help them recover and return to school.

 

In addition to the health and safety measures we are asking all community members to follow, we are also looking to create safe conditions for boarding students and faculty. We will:

 

  • Stagger and carefully monitor fall arrivals and help students quarantine properly.
  • Look carefully at density of dorm populations to allow for social distancing.
  • Restrict off-campus travel and visitors to campus to limit exposure.
  • Configure residents and dorms into “family groups” or “pods” who can live together with some eased restrictions.
  • Provide sufficient faculty and staff support to allow students to remain on campus who do not wish to return home for breaks.
  • Create dedicated, isolated infirmary space away from the center of campus with private baths, proctor presence, and access to pediatric care.
  • Adapt food service—refrigerators in dorms will be stocked with breakfast food, and dinner and other meals will be served in safely configured spaces.
  • Food service staff will follow additional protocols for working safely, including alternating weeks of work.

 

We cherish our boarding students and all they contribute to the community, and we will do all we can to welcome them to campus in this new year. We also understand that there may be restrictions on visas and travel across borders that make it difficult or even impossible for some international students to join us. That is why we are offering fully online courses in the early mornings and evenings, adapted specifically to be comfortable for those who are not able to join us in the fall and who are in very different time zones. These courses—the SJA Virtual Academy—will be taught by some of our most creative and capable faculty, and more specific information about course offerings will follow; but we will have core, AP, and advanced courses as well as ESL available. Our hope will be that all students will be able to join us on campus as soon as possible.

 

Communication

 

Our Fall 2020 School Opening Roadmap will be our hub for communication about COVID-19 planning and response, and we encourage you to visit the site and explore the pathways differentiated for day, boarding, and online students, and also look at our FAQs.

 

We are eager to hear from you and to know what you are thinking about the upcoming year. I will explain more in my regular update about how we will provide opportunities for you to share feedback and ask questions in real-time. These will likely include a Zoom forum for parents, a dedicated comment and question area on the website, and surveys about specific issues. As is clear, there is a great deal of information that we want to share, and you can count on regular communication from me and our team about things you will want and need to know about the upcoming school year.

 

I want to thank my Administrative team, and the hard-working Task Forces for their commitment to responding with ingenuity and optimism to the changing landscape and the potential scenarios we are facing. Planning and preparation will continue throughout the summer, and we expect that some things will remain uncertain; but you can be confident that we are tackling this challenge in an ongoing and responsive way.

 

Keeping all members of our community safe remains our highest priority—all else depends on it. But we also see this as an opportunity for the special qualities of our school to shine. As we make sure that Academy students are continuing to benefit as much as possible from their time with us, and that we are continuing to fulfill our mission to help them become the best people, learners, and citizens they can be, we will also learn new ways to support and know each other. We will learn important lessons about equity, fairness, and have many more chances to understand the ways we are strong and can grow stronger. Even as we face constraints, we see ways that the new skills and abilities we are needing to learn will serve us well in the future, and give us new tools to use in teaching, learning, and life. We are busy looking for ways not just to maintain but to enhance our work in creative ways—the daily lessons, support, encouragement and joy we experience with teachers, coaches, and friends are critical and life-changing, and our goal is to start making them happen as soon as we possibly can.

 

With our thanks for your continued support and partnership,

 

Dr. Sharon L. Howell, Headmaster

 

The Lead Planning Team

Jack Cummings, Associate Headmaster

Carol Lyon, Assistant Head for Business Operations

Tammi Cady, Assistant Head for Advancement

William Vinton, Dean of Academics

Beth Choiniere, Assistant Head for Campus Life

Update to Academy Day Student Families — July 17, 2020

Dear St. Johnsbury Academy Families,

 

I am pleased today to share some important details about our plans for reopening St. Johnsbury Academy safely and vibrantly this fall. Our faculty and staff teams have been working very hard in recent weeks to develop thoughtful, responsible, and balanced plans for reopening in accordance with the Vermont Department of Health and Agency of Education Guidance for A Strong and Healthy Start, CDC guidelines, other official and expert advice, and the good thinking that is happening across the world. Opening schools safely is a topic of intense national and international debate right now, so we are not alone in grappling with how to welcome kids back to campus—which we are excited to do, and know is right for their continued well-being and progress—while still staying safe and protecting our communities.

 

One size does not fit all when it comes to creating reasonable plans. Much of our work has been to understand what the current crisis will require from St. Johnsbury Academy, in particular, and to adapt and interpret official public health mandates to fit the Academy’s daily life, culture, and mission. Our planning has been in four general areas: Health and Safety, Academic and Campus Life, Residential Life, and Communication. This letter will explain and offer details about:

 

  • The health and safety measures we are putting in place
  • Plans to reduce the density of people on campus in the fall
  • The daily, weekly, and yearly Academy schedules
  • Our hybrid model of teaching and learning
  • Plans for ongoing communication

 

We hope that the plans we’re outlining here will provide helpful grounding and clarity as we prepare to come together in the fall and help you to understand the path we are creating to open for the 2020-2021 school year. We have created a special section of the website, Fall 2020 School Opening Roadmap, and hope you will use it as a primary tool to find up-to-date information and answers to your general and more specific questions. We want to help make these plans as clear as we can, because we will need everyone to be part of making them work—your partnership and support is more critical now than ever.

 

Health and Safety

 

You’ve told us that your keenest concern is about the nature and extent of the measures we are putting in place to protect the health and safety of the community, and that is our most important guiding consideration. Our plan is to put in place and monitor comprehensive measures regarding recommended use of physical spaces and campus facilities, screening and reporting policies, and changes in on-campus behaviors, some of which are now familiar to all and some of which will require orientation and education. These measures meet and sometimes exceed the recommendations of the Vermont Department of Health, including:

 

  • Mask wearing—we will require all faculty, staff, and students to wear facial coverings while in buildings, as well as in other settings or outside where reasonable physical distancing cannot be maintained. Adults dropping off and picking up students should wear facial coverings. Instructions for making, wearing, and washing facial coverings can be found on the CDC website. We will ask that students bring their own masks, but we will also provide reusable masks during orientation and disposable masks throughout the year as needed.
  • Hand washing—additional hand washing stations and hand sanitizer will be installed in classrooms, dorms, and other public spaces.
  • Social distancing—we will expect all to practice social distancing. We are reconfiguring classrooms and other spaces to allow for reasonable distancing and analyzing what that means for our dining hall, field house, buses, and larger public spaces.
  • Encouraging staying home when sick—we will insist that students, faculty, and staff with any symptoms related to COVID-19 return home, self-isolate, and contact their primary doctor to be tested for the virus.
  • Limited gatherings—we will follow evolving state guidelines, and consider the limitations of our physical spaces in limiting the number of people allowed to gather.
  • Use of outdoor spaces—our faculty and staff are looking at options for conducting classes and activities outdoors when possible, as research shows being in fresh air mitigates the spread of the virus.
  • Evaluating HVAC systems and ventilation—there is good guidance and support for improving systems to conduct and circulate fresh air indoors.
  • Increased disinfecting and cleaning—our facilities team has already put protocols in place for cleaning and disinfecting at the recommended levels and frequencies.
  • Daily screening—all students will be screened daily for temperature and symptoms of COVID-19 before arriving on campus. Staff and faculty will continue to self-screen and report.
  • Testing, quarantine, and travel restrictions—we are planning to stagger arrival of boarding students within a timeframe that will enable them to quarantine according to state mandates. We will ask that all members of the community check the VT Department of Health Travel Guidance for up-to-date instructions.
  • Response to infection on campus—we are developing our response to infection on campus and will work closely with the Department of Health on those protocols. Please visit our website FAQs for more information about our considerations for deciding when it will be necessary to cancel some activities, move online temporarily, or close school for a period of time. We have quarantine space available for boarding students if needed.
  • Reduce the density of people on campus (more on this in “Academic and Campus Life Programs”)—to limit the number of students on campus per day, students will attend school in-person on campus every other day or some variation depending upon the need.
  • Traffic flow and campus signage—we are analyzing how to limit movement during the day, control traffic flow through campus, and post clear signs across campus and in buildings that will guide students to follow the health and safety protocols.
  • Transportation—we will be limiting off-campus trips and not allowing field trips for the foreseeable future.
  • Visitors—we will be strictly limiting visitors to campus.

 

The facilities group, health center staff, and campus life staff are staying abreast of current guidelines and recommendations. Many of these preparations and enhancements have already been made, and protocols are already being followed by staff and those on campus for summer programs.

 

Academic and Campus Life Programs

 

Our goal is to have all students attend school, whether on campus or virtually, every day—and we will be requiring attendance from those online who will be expected to join their classes virtually in real-time. Students will be fully accountable for attending and engaging in class each day. This strategy will allow us to ensure students have daily routines and commitments and will also give us the flexibility to move fully online for an appropriate period of time if necessary or to open to more students should conditions allow it.

 

We plan to start our school year on August 31st, beginning with enhanced, required student orientation programming before the start of classes. During the week of August 31st, students will be in-person, on campus, by year of graduation, and will work with teachers and advisors to become accustomed to the new norms and expectations as well as to be reminded of the standards of campus culture we will continue to expect. Academic classes will begin in full on September 8th. Many elements of the school day will remain the same as will the contours of the fall semester schedule.

 

Please see our 2020-2021 school calendar for more important dates in the upcoming school year.

 

The past spring semester taught us a lot about what remote learning looks like, and exposed some significant issues around equity, access, and quality of experience. While some students thrived, others struggled more to adapt to or to participate in the remote curriculum.

 

Teachers have been involved in the development of the fall schedule and curriculum and are working hard to create versions of courses that are robust, engaging, and prioritize building skills and developing capacities within this new hybrid mode. Many have already worked with recognized experts in online and hybrid teaching and will continue professional development through the summer and throughout the fall semester. We also have in-house expertise in learning technology and will continue to help teachers to integrate it into their work with students. We will:

 

  • Adapt our curriculum to a hybrid learning model—students will attend school on campus, in person, every other day. They will be divided alphabetically into “green and white” cohorts, so that roughly 50% of the student body is on campus each day. On alternate days, students will attend school online, joining their classes using a hybrid model of combined in-class and virtual attendance.
  • Offer a recognizable school day schedule with five 70-minute periods, and 4 classes per semester.
  • Prepare for courses to be taught 100% online if necessary or preferable, by developing each course in the curriculum to be available on Canvas (our learning platform) and to be designed to a high standard.
  • Offer robust, 100% online courses in the early mornings and evenings for those international students who are not able to join us in person for the fall semester, and also to support those day students who may need to remain off-campus for health or other considerations.
  • Explore offering students with specific and special needs—including those in Special Education or with internet access challenges—the opportunity to be on campus daily.
  • Determine, acquire, and deploy appropriate classroom and personal technology to enable combined in-person and online learning.
  • Reconfigure, replace, or reschedule courses that are not possible to run online.
  • Provide engaging afternoon enrichment activities for all.
  • Follow the Department of Health guidelines regarding athletic competition. Although decisions about formal competition will come at a later date, we will continue to hold team sports practices, team fitness, scrimmaging, and offer other intramural modes to support the health and wellness of our students.

 

Communication

 

The Fall 2020 School Opening Roadmap will be our hub for communication about COVID-19 planning and response, and we encourage you to visit the site and explore the pathways differentiated for day, boarding, and online students, and also to look at our FAQs.

 

We are eager to hear from you and to know how you are thinking about the upcoming year. I will explain more in my regular update about how we will provide opportunities for you to share feedback and ask questions in real-time. These will include a Zoom forum for parents, a dedicated comment and question areas on the website, and surveys about your family’s plans and concerns. As is clear, there is a great deal of information that we want to share, and that we will need from you—so you can count on regular communication from me and our team about things you will want and need to know about the upcoming school year.

 

I want to thank my Administrative team, and the hard-working task forces for their commitment to responding with ingenuity and optimism to the changing landscape and the potential scenarios we are facing. Planning and preparation will continue throughout the summer, and we expect that some things will remain uncertain or change. But you can be confident that we are tackling this challenge in an ongoing and responsive way.

 

Keeping all members of our community safe remains our highest priority—all else depends on it. But I want to be clear that we also see this as an opportunity for the special qualities of our school to shine. As we make sure that Academy students are continuing to benefit as much as possible from their time with us, and that we are continuing to fulfill our mission to help them become the best people, learners, and citizens they can be, we will also learn new ways to support and know each other. We will learn important lessons about equity, fairness, and have many more chances to understand the ways we are strong and can grow stronger. Even as we face constraints, we see ways that the new skills and abilities we are needing to learn will serve us well in the future, and give us new tools to use in teaching, learning, and life. We are busy looking for ways not just to maintain, but to enhance our work in creative ways—the daily lessons, support, encouragement and joy we experience with teachers, coaches, and friends are critical and life-changing, and our goal is to start making them happen again as soon as we possibly can.

 

With our thanks for your continued support and partnership,

 

Dr. Sharon L. Howell, Headmaster

 

The Lead Planning Team

Jack Cummings, Associate Headmaster

Carol Lyon, Assistant Head for Business Operations

Tammi Cady, Assistant Head for Advancement

William Vinton, Dean of Academics

Beth Choiniere, Assistant Head for Campus Life

Update to Academy Families — July 6, 2020

Dear St. Johnsbury Academy Families,

 

As I join you as Headmaster, I am eager to address what I know is at the front of our minds right now: how the Academy will manage the reopening of school this fall in light of the constantly changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic. I write today to share with you some important information about our planning process, to clarify when and how you can expect to hear from us as planning continues and develops, and to thank you for joining us in preparation for the coming year.

 

As you know, we have been working in task forces of faculty and staff for many weeks to understand the challenges posed by the pandemic, to respond to them with ingenuity, and to plan responsibly for a healthy 2020-2021 academic year. We are guided by three main principles: the absolute priority of community safety and wellbeing; our understanding of the importance of convening school in person; and our desire to preserve, protect, and even to build on the powerful educational community of St. Johnsbury Academy through this unprecedented crisis. Our approach is to consider how to adapt critical areas of school life to follow state and federal mandates, to interpret and incorporate guidance from professional organizations, and to collaborate with peer schools and educational experts.

 

My most important message to you today is that we are proceeding with plans to open the St. Johnsbury Academy campus to students this fall. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently advised that “all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school,” and Vermont state officials have made a similar recommendation. We are taking that advice to heart, and basing our plans on the assumption that we wish to welcome as many students back to campus as possible while complying with official guidelines and restrictions as they evolve.

 

At the same time, we recognize that many of our families will encounter obstacles to arriving on campus, including visas and travel restrictions, and will need our help to continue their educational progress at the Academy. We also recognize that some in the community will be concerned about being on campus for health reasons. That is why all of the scenarios we are imagining for the fall assume some degree of remote or online instruction, and why we are preparing to offer academic and extra/co-curricular programming that is dynamic, robust, and consistent, emphasizing strong student engagement and synchronous instruction adjusted to meet the needs of our diverse population. Indeed, we will be prepared to offer programming completely online for all students should that become necessary.

 

This week and next, our task forces are completing the first critical stages of their work. When they have done so, we will share with you a complete and detailed plan for opening, including such details as staggered student returns and quarantine protocols; daily, weekly, and semester schedules; faculty professional development; enhanced student orientations; dining; dorm life; and the safety requirements that will become part of our daily routines. Following that, there will be multiple opportunities for you to ask questions, share concerns, and speak with us in virtual and written forums. We are committed to communicating with you regularly, often, and honestly; it is invaluable for us to hear from you as we plan, and we will make every effort to remain flexible enough to incorporate your feedback alongside all other considerations.

 

I believe that you are our most important partners in making the most of these extraordinary circumstances, and in keeping our students and community safe, whole, and working toward our mission. It is already clear to me that your trust in and care for the Academy is powerful, and I know that the faculty, staff, administrators, and I honor that trust deeply, and will continue to do all we can to make this year a positive experience for you and our students.

 

Yours Gratefully,

 

Dr. Sharon L. Howell

Headmaster


FAQs

Please explain the latest updates (9/4/20) on students or family members with COVID-19 symptoms?

Because of the very low rate of COVID-19 cases, the Vermont Department of Health and our local pediatricians suggest that healthy asymptomatic students can attend school even if there is a person with illness symptoms at home. That recommendation excludes students with a known COVID-19 exposure or recent high-risk travel. Students with a single symptom (fever < 24 hours, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, fatigue, diarrhea, or headache) can return to school 24 hours after symptom improvement or resolution without a COVID test.

 

To be clear, if the rates of COVID-19 increase and as we learn more about the need (or no need) for testing, we will make changes.

 

The health office will continue to monitor each student who reports illness and work with their families and primary care physician to help them return to school safely.

 

As a reminder, students should STAY HOME if they have any of the symptoms listed.

 

We will ask parents to  monitor their children prior to coming to school and staff should monitor themselves:

  • Fever (100.4° Fahrenheit or higher), chills, or 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

  • Been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID

  • Traveled to a high risk area in the last 14 days

What are the Vermont guidelines for the opening of schools in the fall?

Our faculty and staff have been working hard in recent weeks to develop thoughtful, responsible, and balanced plans for the opening of school in accordance with the Vermont Department of Health and Agency of Education Guidance for A Strong and Healthy Start, CDC guidelines, other official and expert advice, and the good thinking that is happening across the world.

When will boarding students move onto campus?

Please refer to the boarding section of this site.

What is the testing and quarantining plan for students?

If you are a boarding student, please refer to the boarding section on this site.

 

If you are a day student and traveling by car or walking to school, no quarantine is needed upon arrival to campus assuming you have not traveled outside of the safe counties as posted by the State of Vermont. Safe counties are updated regularly and can be found here.

 

If you traveled to an area outside of the safe counties as posted by the State of Vermont, you must quarantine at home for seven days followed by a negative COVID-19 test result, or quarantine at home for 14 days with no test before arriving on campus. 

 

Students will be asked a series of questions each morning before entering Academy buildings. If a student has traveled without quarantine, been in contact with a COVID-19 positive person, or has a fever or other symptoms, they will be required to return home until they have a negative COVID-19 test or quarantined for 14 days.  

How was it decided to split the day school population by alphabet and not by class?

To decrease the density of each classroom, we were unable to split the student body by graduation class. Because most classrooms have students from the same grade and we are required to achieve the 6-foot distance requirement, we needed to split the individual classroom student size in half. The class will run as normal, with half of the class sitting in-person, while the other half remotes in. Those students remoting in will still be active participants in the class and will need to attend at the regular class time schedule for attendance purposes.  This will also keep students on a normal schedule.

Which days will day students attend in person?

We have used the alphabet as a starting point to build our green and white cohorts, who will attend school in person, on campus, on alternate days from Monday-Thursday. All students will be online on Friday mornings. We will balance the numbers in each cohort based on multiple factors such as section size, family coordination, resident student attendance, and other specific needs—but by and large you can assume your cohort from your last name. Here is how the week will look:

 

  • Monday and Wednesday: Green Cohort (approximately A-K) on campus; White Cohort (approximately L-Z) online.

  • Tuesday and Thursday: White Cohort (L-Z) on campus; Green Cohort (A-K) online.

  • Fridays: mornings online with abbreviated class periods, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; afternoon optional projects starting at 1:30 p.m. for students in CTE, arts, and other hands-on courses.

 

Specific details will follow about Fridays. We are reaching out to those students with specific needs to make sure they are accommodated properly, including those with internet access difficulties. We have clear parameters to determine those students who will need be on campus daily. To submit questions or requests, please be sure to use this form.

Can you explain how you came up with the daily schedule?

In an effort to make our schedule more predictable and easier to manage week to week, instead of rotating our green and white groups every other day, we will do the following:

  1. One group will join us on campus Mondays and Wednesdays, and the other group on Tuesdays and Thursdays, each week.
  2. On Fridays, we will go remote in the morning, offering a half day of short period, all-online classes. This will be followed by a flexible afternoon with opportunities for teachers to have individual meetings with students, or for students in sciences, arts, and/or CTE courses to come to campus on alternate weeks to work on projects and other enrichment activities. 

 

One size does not fit all when it comes to creating reasonable plans. Much of our work has been to understand what the current crisis will require from St. Johnsbury Academy, in particular, and to adapt and interpret official public health mandates to fit the Academy’s unique daily life, culture, and mission.

Will my day student have downtime during the online school days?

Day students studying on remote days will be required to attend their normal classes at the regular time via Zoom. The school day runs from 7:55 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day.  Students are expected to attend the full day and attendance will be taken.

When can I expect to get instructions on how to access the Parent and Student Portals?

Returning parents and students already have an account.  If you did not activate the account, you will be resent an email to the email address we have on file with your credentials once we have uploaded all the necessary information for the school year. 

 

New parents and student credentials will be sent when we have uploaded all the necessary information for the school year.  The credentials will be sent to the email address we have on file.

If we have unreliable internet access, can you suggest alternative options?

We are conscious of those students who have struggled with reliable internet access. Here are a few possible ways to mitigate this issue:

 

  • Students without internet service will be able to come to campus daily, and on online days will join their classes remotely from a designated, supervised area on campus. Again, we will reach out to those of you we are aware of, but please reach out to us if this is a hardship for you.

  • Students can access the internet from alternate spaces in communities such as libraries, that are nearer their homes.

  • The Department of Public Service has introduced the Line Extension Customer Assistance Program (“LECAP”) provides up to $3000 in assistance to qualifying and eligible consumers who seek to extend telecommunications lines to their homes. Hundreds of Vermonters without 25/3 Mbps broadband service live just beyond the reach of current cable and other Internet Service Providers’ networks. We hope this might help connect some families.

 

Download the Line Extension Customer Assistance Program PDF

What key dates should we be aware of and where do we find the daily schedule?

We plan to start our school year on August 31st, beginning with enhanced, required student orientation programming before the start of classes. During the week of August 31st, students will work with teachers and advisors to become accustomed to the new norms and expectations as well as to be reminded of the standards of campus culture we will continue to expect. Academic classes will begin in full on September 8th. Many elements of the school day will remain the same and we encourage you to view the daily schedule. It would be helpful to check the school calendar for other key dates.  

What measures are being put in place to protect the health and safety of the community?

We have established a team of campus life, health center, and facilities staff who will be continuing to develop protocols and clear guidance for all of us around community wellness. The team consists of:

 

Dr. Sharon Howell, Headmaster

Beth Choiniere, Assistant Head for Campus Life

Jack Driscoll, Dean of Students

Sarah Garey, Director of Health Services

Kurt Zschau, Director of Facilities

 

Plans are in place to monitor comprehensive measures regarding recommended use of physical spaces and campus facilities, screening and reporting policies, and changes in on-campus behaviors, some of which are now familiar to all and some of which will require orientation and education. These measures meet and exceed the recommendations of the Vermont Department of Health, and include:

 

 

  • Mask wearing—We will require all faculty, staff, and students to wear facial coverings while in buildings, as well as in other settings, or outside where reasonable physical distancing cannot be maintained. Adults dropping off and picking up students should wear facial coverings. Instructions for making, wearing, and washing facial coverings can be found on the CDC website. We ask that students bring their own masks, but we will provide reusable masks at orientation and disposable masks throughout the year as they are needed.

  • Hand washing—additional hand-washing stations and hand sanitizer will be installed in classrooms, dorms, and other public spaces.

  • Social distancing—we will expect all to practice social distancing. We are reconfiguring classrooms and other spaces to allow for reasonable distancing, and analyzing what that means for our dining hall, field house, buses, and larger public spaces.

  • Limited gatherings—we will follow evolving state guidelines and consider the limitations of our physical spaces in limiting the number of people allowed to gather.

  • Use of outdoor spaces—our faculty and staff are looking at options for conducting classes and activities outdoors when possible as research shows being in fresh air mitigates the spread of the virus.

  • Evaluating HVAC systems and ventilation—there is good guidance and support for improving systems to conduct and circulate fresh air indoors.

  • Increased disinfecting and cleaning—our facilities team has already put protocols in place for cleaning and disinfecting at the recommended levels and frequencies.

  • Daily screening—all students will be screened daily for temperature and symptoms of COVID-19—staff and faculty will continue to self-screen and report.

  • Encouraging staying home when sick—we will insist that boarding students with any symptoms related to COVID-19 be isolated and cared for in a dedicated spot away from the center of campus with private baths, proctor presence, and access to pediatric care until they have recovered and can return to school. Faculty, staff, and day students will be required to return home if symptoms are present and seek medical support from their primary doctors.

  • Testing, quarantine, and travel restrictions—we are planning to stagger arrival of boarding students within a timeframe that will enable them to quarantine according to state mandates.  Day students who have visited or are traveling from non-approved counties as indicated by the State of Vermont (https://accd.vermont.gov/covid-19/restart/cross-state-travel) will need to quarantine at home prior to coming to school. 

  • Response to infection on campus—we are developing our response to infection on campus and will work closely with the Department of Health on those protocols. Please visit our Pause or Shutdown Plans below this section for deciding when it would be necessary to cancel some activities, move online temporarily, or close school for a period of time. We have good quarantine space available for boarding students and will be working to “cohort” students in groups to limit contact and exposure.

  • Reduce the density of people on campus—to limit the number of students on campus per day, boarding students and day students with special circumstances will attend classes every day while most day students will attend school in-person on campus every other day.  Please refer to the daily schedule. 

  • Traffic flow and campus signage—we are analyzing how to limit movement during the day, control traffic flow through campus, and post clear signs across campus and in buildings to help guide students to follow health and safety protocols.

  • Transportation—we will be limiting off-campus trips and most field trips.

  • Visitors—we will be strictly limiting all visitors to campus.

What is the update on athletics?

Athletics update: Governor Scott’s office has announced that details for fall sports are currently being generated, and sports-specific guidance is due to be published in the next days. Fall athletic practices are currently slated to begin on September 8th. As soon as the state issues guidance, the athletic department will communicate Academy-specific details for sports teams, including safety protocols, practice schedules, and meet-the-coaches meeting information.

How early can students arrive on campus during the school day?

Our buildings will be locked until 7:45 a.m., including the Field House and Library, to eliminate students congregating in any one area. We are asking students to arrive at 7:45 a.m. and once through their health screening they will go immediately to their advisory location. 

What is the dress code for students when studying remotely?

During the days when students are working remotely, they will be required to be in dress code or Academy gear. Masks are not required while on Zoom. Masks will be required when students are physically on campus. 

If my child feels sick during the school day where should they go?

This year the Health Office will be located in Tinker House which is located on Main Street across from Fuller Hall.

 

This space will allow for two separate entrances and an isolation room if needed. Signage on the doors will help to direct visitors to the appropriate entrance depending on need.

 

The front door, located on Main Street, will be for appointments with the counselor, medication needs, injuries, and other non-COVID symptom issues. The side door, located adjacent to the Tinker parking lot, will be for anyone with COVID symptoms, such as cough, congestion, runny nose, sore throat, and fever.  This space allows us to have an isolation room for anyone who is not feeling well until they can be picked up by their family.

What should we do if my child has COVID-like symptoms?

Day students who are staying home or who are sent home because of COVID-like symptoms will need to call their primary care provider and follow their instructions regarding the need for a COVID test.  The Health Office will be calling those families to walk them through the return to school policy. Boarding students will be screened every morning in their dorms and anyone who may have COVID-like symptoms will be quarantined until we receive the results of a COVID test.

Do day students have the option to do full-time remote learning?

We will open school with a hybrid schedule (in-person 2 days, remote 3 days) or a fully remote option (remote all 5 days). If you are interested in five day remote learning, please contact Dean of Academics Bill Vinton (wvinton@stjacademy.org) or our Director of Guidance Sean Murphy (smurphy@stjacademy.org) to discuss the options. 

What is your policy for wearing masks while at school?

In order to establish and maintain a safe and healthy school community it is imperative that, along with frequent hand washing and proper social distancing, everyone wear an effective and properly fitting face mask.

 

The following pertains to faculty/staff and students in campus buildings or outside when proper social distancing is not possible. Other guidelines may be in effect for sports or other extracurricular activities.

 

Mask requirements:

A well secured solid color or print pattern cloth mask that fits snugly against the face and covers an individual’s nose and mouth. It must be made of a material that prevents the discharge of respiratory droplets from a person’s nose or mouth.

 

Acceptable masks:

KN-95, N95 masks

Medical/Procedural (3-ply disposable) masks

Commercial or Home-made 2-ply cloth masks

 

Not allowed:

Face coverings with exhaust valves

Bandanas, gaiters, or buffs

Face coverings with materials such as mesh or lace fabrics

Face coverings that do not cover the nose and mouth

Face coverings that cover the entirety of the face and forehead

Face coverings with logos (St. Johnsbury Academy logo is acceptable), slogans, flags, or any other type of messaging

 


Masks are required in buildings at all times (except when eating lunch) and outside when proper social distancing is not possible.

 

For example:

A teacher holding a class outdoors would require mask wearing.

Two students sitting alone at the picnic table in front of the library would wear masks.

Students moving to classes between blocks would wear masks.

 


Masks are not required outside when proper social distancing is possible.

 

For example:

Students sitting on the green eating lunch and properly distanced would not be required to wear a mask.

What is the Zoom dress code?

Students attending class via Zoom should be neat, clear, and appropriate. Ties or Academy gear are not required.

Will students be allowed to use cell phones during the school day?

Cell phones will be permitted during passing times only. No cell phone usage permitted during lunch or study halls at this time.   


Other Important School Opening Information

Pause or Shutdown Plans

We have developed a range of plans based on different situations and circumstances that may require us to pause or shut down some or all school activities. A shutdown may be necessary based on any of the following scenarios:

 

  • A statewide order to close due to any number of factors that are out of our control.

 

  • The local public health department recommends a school shut down due to campus outbreak.

 

  • Infirmary bed space, including all licensed infirmary surge space, has been utilized to its maximum capacity.

 

  • An outbreak on campus where our COVID-19 cohort and quarantine spaces are maxed out.

 

  • Health Center staffing does not allow for adequate coverage of the school’s Health Center facilities.

 

  • Faculty/staff absenteeism is too high to carry out the daily operations of the school.

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Questions about our school opening plans?

 

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