Update to Academy Families — February 12, 2021

Bell tower an flag
February 12, 2021

Dear St. Johnsbury Academy Families,


We are feeling a great deal of gratitude for our students and their resiliency these days, and we are conscious of how much they (and we!) need the upcoming break. Student mental health as a public health crisis of its own is emerging as a critical topic in recent weeks, with new studies showing more clearly than ever the need for social and emotional support that school provides over and above any content or class. 


I’ve been visiting senior advisories a couple of mornings a week, and I am so encouraged and moved by how faculty and students are working on making the most they can of these strange days by connecting with each other—this morning I also met a number of adorable pets on Zoom including a giant bunny and a small Irish setter. Our senses of humor are more important than ever right now, so I have a few updates on some of the things coming up that I hope will help us all make the most of things more easily.


  • Starting, though, with COVID reminders: A number of folks have asked us how we’re addressing the uptick in local cases and the new variants of COVID-19 that are emerging as vaccines start to roll out in earnest. The short answer is—we’re doing what we do. The measures that we’ve been taking throughout the pandemic remain the best there are to limit spread and protect our community’s health. I am attaching some good reminders from our COVID Response Team about mask wearing, distancing, avoiding gatherings, etc. at the bottom of this update.


  • Winter…Festive Week!—Next week students and faculty are preparing a number of fun things in lieu of our traditional Winter Carnival. Special Chapels, games, treats, trivia, a break from homework, and finally a Head’s Holiday on Friday, 2/19 won’t make up for snow sculptures and floor hockey—but I hope folks enjoy the reprieve. Thanks to Campus Life and Student Government for their work on this.


  • Athletics Update—The Governor has allowed competitive sports to begin as of today, and we’ll start with Basketball this evening, and Hockey, Gymnastics and Nordic skiing this weekend. Our Athletic Director, John Lenzini, has sent a note with the schedule and instructions for joining select games via livestream—unfortunately, spectators are not allowed as of now. But we hope that all our athletes enjoy playing regardless! Live streaming information—and information about how to purchase a cut-out spectator for your student athlete—is also attached at the end of this email.


  • Music is Coming—Just today we’ve heard from the Agency of Education that we can start some indoor music programming next week—with restrictions, but it’s something! Can’t wait to hear the flutes and trumpets again. To follow are plans for performing arts as well.


Thank you all for your partnership, as always, in helping our students to be as healthy as possible, even when it is difficult. Please remember that you can reach out to us if you need help in navigating situations with your students—we have a strong mental health team of counselors and nurses and are eager to do whatever we can to help. Enjoy the early launch into Winter Break next week (Friday is a Head’s Holiday), and take good care.


Dr. Sharon Howell






Prevention Steps

  • Stay home if you are sick

  •  Wash your hands

  •  Keep your social circle small

  • Stay at least 6 feet apart

  • Wear a mask—During cold weather, change your mask when it becomes wet. Keep a spare mask to replace the wet one, and put the wet one in a plastic bag until you get home. If you need to wear a scarf, ski mask or balaclava, wear it over your mask. If you wear glasses, find a mask that fits closely over your nose or has a nose wire to help reduce fogging.


To slow the spread of COVID-19 in Vermont, you may not gather with anyone you don’t live with. In addition,

  •  if you travel outside of Vermont, you must follow quarantine requirements.

  • if you have gathered with people you don’t live with, you should quarantine. The Health Department strongly encourages getting tested as soon as 2 days after gathering, and then again on day 7.

  •  if you had COVID-19, received a positive antibody test, or got a COVID-19 vaccine, you still must quarantine when you travel or return to Vermont under the current travel guidelines. This also means that you are not allowed to gather with people you don’t live with under the current social gathering guidelines.


Close contact means being within 6 feet, for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period, of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 during their infectious period. The infectious period starts two days before any symptoms began—or for people with COVID-19 who don’t have symptoms, two days before they got tested— and continues until they are recovered. You are not considered a close contact of someone else who is a close contact but has not yet tested positive themselves.





From Athletic Director John Lenzini:


Home games will be available for viewing on a new streaming service, and you can access the games here: YouTube: SJA Hilltoppers.


We know it is challenging to not be in the gym for your son’s or daughter’s basketball games this season. We also recognize that your child will miss seeing your face in the crowd. We are offering the opportunity to have your “Face in the Crowd”. This effort allows you to purchase fan signs through the SJA Athletic Department and have them placed in the stands for your favorite basketball player.


This is a great opportunity to bolster our athletes’ spirits. Put Your Face in the Crowd!


Support SJA Basketball by having an 18” x 24” photo of you in the bleachers.



1.    Hilltopper Fan Signs are $20 each. Place your order online: Hilltopper Fan Signs.

2.    Photos should be high resolution and can be vertical or horizontal.

3.    Photos are subject to approval.

4.    Hilltopper Fan Signs are yours to keep at the end of the basketball season.

5.    Call the Academy Field House desk to make a cash or credit card payment (748-8683) if you cannot order online.


Let us know if you have questions. Thank you for your support.

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