Headmaster’s Newsletter

Update to Academy Families — Janauary 7, 2022

Bell tower an flag
January 7, 2022

Dear St. Johnsbury Academy Families,


I’m happy to be writing to you here in the New Year, in much, much better health and with all the optimism and renewal that comes with new beginnings. We are eagerly awaiting the return of students next Tuesday, January 11th, and looking forward to a semester that (eventually) will bring us to springtime. We hope you are all feeling ready to return and embark on a new term as well.


The challenges of COVID have not subsided in the way we hoped—and we are stepping back to protect ourselves from the highly transmissible Omicron variant just as the rest of the country and the world are. We’re again limiting gatherings, wearing masks, contact tracing, and all the rest. At least we have practice with these protocols, so we don’t have to invent them anew.


But we have not changed our commitment to in-person learning for our students and teachers—last semester made it absolutely clear to us that being together in person is just as important as we thought, and that it is worth adjusting our activities to reflect that critical priority. We’re staying in school—not only because the Vermont Agency of Education is pressing us to, but because it is the right thing for our students and the preparation for life, study and citizenship we’ve promised to offer them.


We want to ask you, too, to recommit to partnership with us in safe, in-person school and activities. You and your students have been extraordinarily patient as we have put up needed guardrails for staying open. Your help with that has been crucial, and we need it now more than ever. 


Along those lines I have a few important updates for the start of the semester.


  • First Day of Classes is Tuesday, January 11th, and we will follow the short, Friday schedule from 8:00am-12:00pm, beginning in advisories. Please make note of the need for midday pickup.


  • COVID protocols: Our safety measures have kept us in school together for 18 months, and we are going to stay the course. Masks, preferably the effective N95 or surgical type, are required indoors; gathering sizes are limited; and perhaps most important, we still want you to stay home when sick—for this variant, that actually means even just for a runny nose. Please see a “COVID 101” Appendix from the Covid Response Team below.


  • Dress Code Reminder: please review the revised, universal dress code that is also appended below. Remember, we have high standards for dress and will expect students to come to school neat, clean, and in appropriate attire that follows our code.


  • Spring Term Calendar: I’m attaching the calendar of holidays, vacations, and other important dates here for your reference in the spring semester. Note that parent conferences are on March 31st. As a reminder, should there be a snow or winter weather event, we will let you know of any delays or cancellations by 6:30am—but as always, decisions about travel safety are yours. Please contact Laurie Lang in Campus Life (llang@stjacademy.org) with any questions.


Thank you as always, and again for the tremendous support you’ve offered to the school during these difficult times. I have often marveled at how helpful and understanding our families are—and can’t wait until we can celebrate that with some normalcy and fun. Take care, be safe, and please never hesitate to be in touch.


Dr. Sharon Howell




COVID-19 101

If you develop any symptoms- stay home and get tested!!


What to do if you have a Positive Test


1. Stay home and isolate for 5 days

2. You can leave your home after day 5 if:

  • you never had symptoms, or your symptoms have improved, and you feel better
  • you never had symptoms, OR your symptoms have improved, and you feel better;
  • AND you have had no fever for at least 24 hours;
  • AND you wear a mask around others through day 10 ;
  • AND, when possible, it is recommended that you have two negative antigen tests performed at least 24 hours apart on day 4 and 5

3. Notify your close contacts


What to do if you are a close contact 


IF YOU ARE BOOSTED: Pfizer or Moderna less than 5 months ago, or J +J less than 2 months ago, OR have had COVID in the last 90 days

  • You do not need to quarantine but should wear a mask around others for 10 days. ·
  • A test on day 5 is recommended.
  • If you develop symptoms at any time, get a test then stay home and isolate from others until you receive your test results.


IF YOU ARE NOT BOOSTED: Pfizer or Moderna more than 5 months ago, or J +J more than 2 months ago, OR unvaccinated

  • Stay home and quarantine for 5 days.
  • You can leave your home after day 5 if you have no symptoms
  • AND, when possible, it is recommended that you have one negative PCR or LAMP test on or after day 5 OR two negative antigen tests performed at least 24 hours apart no sooner than day 4 and 5
  • If you develop symptoms at any time, get a test and isolate from others until you receive your test results.


Test to Stay: We are currently offering test and stay for our school. This means school-related close contacts can come to school if they have no symptoms, have a rapid test at Tinker house on arrival and stay for the day if the results are negative. This will happen daily for the 5 days of quarantine. Other than school and sports practice the close contact is expected to quarantine for the 5 days. Close contact has to be related to school, not a home or outside of school contact. Anyone at school—faculty, staff, student–who is a contact because of school, they can participate in the test and stay.



APPENDIX B: Dress Code

St. Johnsbury Academy Dress Code



Our goal is for the Academy’s dress code to reflect the full breadth of our mission and values, and contribute to creating a culture of belonging and equity while urging students to take pride in the school and themselves. We wish for students:

  • to have respect for themselves and others, and for the business of learning;
  • we wish to prepare students to dress for the work of adult life, recognizing that there are multiple versions of “professionalism;”
  • we wish students to know that they belong in our community, no matter their shape, size, race, gender, religion, culture, or socio-economic status;
  • and we wish students to take ownership of their community and its well-being, comfort, safety, and respect for all.


To achieve these goals, we believe we should offer our students options for acceptable dress during the school day by making our dress code universal, and not based on gender. Instead, we use the standard of “neat, clean, and appropriate” for all attire.


Universal Dress Code

We are eager for students to look tidy and maintain a standard of dress in keeping with the tradition of the Academy, so we will not allow T-shirts, jeans, leggings, cargo pants, shorts, sweatpants or sweatshirts. We will expect clothes to be clean, not ripped or torn, not transparent, and free of words or images. 


On most days of the school year, all students will be expected to wear:


Tops: Dress shirts (with or without tie or collar), polos, blouses, turtlenecks, or sweaters. 

a. Shirts with a flat bottom hem may be worn untucked. Dress shirts with visible tails should be neatly tucked in.

b. Hooded sweatshirts may be worn as outerwear, but must be removed inside.

c. Tops should have sleeves and cover the midriff.


Bottoms: Dress pants, skirts, or dresses.

a. Skirts should be of appropriate length–not above mid-thigh

b. Pants that are made to be belted should have belts


Hair: Hair length is not restricted by gender, but hair should be of natural color, neat, clean and out of the eyes. Facial hair is not permitted.


Jewelry: Jewelry (including earrings) will not be restricted by gender, face piercings (including nose rings) and spacers are not allowed.


Hats must be removed inside.


Task appropriate clothing needed to conduct certain educational courses may be worn only during the meeting times of those courses.


Gear Days

If a day is designated a “Gear day,” or if a certain activity is designated “gear day dress code,” all students should wear:


Tops: Visible SJA gear of any kind, including polo shirts, T-shirts, sweatshirts, or jackets

Bottoms: Regular dress code (see above)


Variety Days

If a day is designated a “Variety Day,” either to raise money for a cause or for any other reason, then all students may wear jeans and other casual clothes (still neat, clean and appropriate).


There will be days that we ask students to dress somewhat more formally, such as for their Capstone presentations and other school events, as they might dress for any other formal or special occasion.

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