Update to Academy Families — December 11, 2020

Bell tower an flag
December 11, 2020

Dear St. Johnsbury Academy Families,


It is hard to believe that we are almost at the end of the fall semester and have only one more week of class before the Winter Break. Students have started taking their final assessments and completing final projects for their classes; advisories are preparing for a talent show, Secret Santa gift-giving, and ugly Holiday mask and sweater days; and teachers are reportedly engaged in lip-synching activity, the result of which we are eager to behold. 


Many of you have chosen in the past few weeks to keep your students at home—and a good number of boarding students have already been Zooming in from home in order to spend more time over the holidays with their families. The Winter Break starting next Friday, 12/18, will be more than welcome.


A few quick updates for this final week, and looking toward next semester.


  • COVID Response Thanks: Our COVID response team’s extraordinary vigilance and hard work has meant we could make, time and again, the decision to continue together in-person despite isolated cases in the school community. Earlier this week, the Department of Health again praised this team for their quick and accurate work, and the school for our safety measures that continue to work so well. Everyone here has reason to be proud.


  • Spring 2021 semester starts in-person: We recognize the emotional toll that this pandemic is taking on all of us over and above the physical one. We have been very safe, here in Vermont, compared to the rest of the United States; but the cost of that safety—which has often involved tough choices about seeing loved ones during the holidays—has in itself been hard to bear. Mitigating that cost is one important reason that our plan as of now is to continue in-person instruction when we return for the spring semester on January 12th. 


  • Fridays In-Person during Spring 2021: Being physically in school has unquestionably been important for so many of our students. We are currently weighing the possibility of bringing students to campus more in person in the Spring—cohorts would come Monday and Wednesday, or Tuesday and Thursday, then Friday every other week, instead of having Fridays only online. We will communicate about these plans as soon as they are decided.


  • Online Surveys: On Monday, 12/14, our Academic Office will be sending a survey to families about your cohort plans for next semester, and hoping to get enough information to structure classes to be most effective both in-person and online. Yesterday, students filled out surveys designed to gather data on their experiences this term, and we hope what we learn from asking these questions will help us be even better next year.


  • Athletics: Winter sports are still on pause for now, but we may have more news next week, at which point we will be in touch.


Of course, we will be in close touch when the time approaches for our return to campus after the New Year, and we will let you know in a timely way about new plans, and if there are any changes to the plan to return in person. But in the meantime, we thank you wholeheartedly for your steadfast partnership in making this semester a success for so many students; and we wish all of you a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season. We are all hoping fervently for a much, much improved 2021. Please never hesitate to be in touch, and as always, take care, and be well.




Dr. Sharon Howell


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