Update to Academy Families — March 12, 2021

Bell tower an flag
March 15, 2021

Dear St. Johnsbury Academy Families,


This week’s balmy weather has put a spring in many of our steps—and brought us new hope and new energy. Our winter athletes are winding down their shortened seasons, with so much success—particularly in snow sports—and so much heart. And just in time as we watch the snow melt!


I have some updates about our COVID response in view of some of this week’s developments, some thoughts about continuing to remain vigilant and careful, and some information about upcoming opportunities to connect with us.


1.   COVID Response Updates: News from the federal level yesterday about the President’s plan to have all adults vaccine-eligible by May 1st, and a new commitment to speedy vaccine deployment, is great—but we echo the President’s admonition to persevere in our fight against the virus. I know we can finish it together just as we started it together, and we are so close.

  •  Recent Cases: We are still monitoring the COVID cases we communicated about on Wednesday and Thursday, but we wanted to be sure to mention that all of these cases were contracted and spread outside the classroom and are not related to one another through school. They are from individual gatherings outside the school day, or travel outside of the state. We are all working very hard to keep masked and distanced, and still doing a very good job. We have not identified any class participants as contacts for these cases.

  •  Caledonia County: As we have said from the beginning, there is a direct connection between the number of incidences of COVID in the community and in our schools—but schools are not where students get COVID. With county numbers up, we need to be extra vigilant about prevention off-campus.

  • Teacher Vaccination Plan: the state of Vermont has prioritized teacher eligibility for COVID vaccines, and our faculty and staff have begun to be vaccinated. The Academy is hosting a clinic this coming Sunday for area teachers, and may host another in the coming weeks. This is obviously wonderful news for us, but again, it does not mean that we can let up on our safety measures. We await more guidance from public health officials about what being vaccinated will actually mean for our operations.

  • No Non-Essential April Break Travel: In the meantime, the newest CDC guidance is clear, and our Department of Health agrees: we still need to avoid non-essential travel if we’re going to stop the pandemic. For us, this means that we are again requiring that students, faculty, and staff not travel over the April Break. For our boarding students, we will do all we can to keep them active and bring some fun over the break—the nice weather will help with that. Let’s keep doing what we’ve done to be successful!


2.   Academic Updates


  • Vermont Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Testing:


We will be administering these tests to freshmen and juniors over three Fridays in April before the break:

                                         i.        Friday, April 2nd: Junior Science

                                       ii.        Friday, April 9th: Freshman English Language Arts

                                     iii.        Friday, April 16th: Freshman Mathematics

More information will soon be forthcoming from the Academic Office, but these will be days that students from both cohorts taking the tests need to be here on campus in person—all others will be remote as usual on Fridays.


  •  Meet the Teachers, March 25th and 26th:


We will again be offering virtual conferences for families with our faculty on the afternoon of Thursday, March 25th and the morning of Friday, March 26th. An email with links to sign up for these conferences will come to you soon.


Remember that the next two Fridays—March 19th and 26th (teachers conferences)—are In-Service Days with no classes.


Families of seniors will soon receive a letter with some basic information about graduation—right now we are not certain what the spring celebrations will look like, but know that we’ll make every effort to make it special, whatever our limitations might be.


I want to remind folks again that coming to campus in person on their cohort days is critical to students’ success—those students who are struggling the most right now are those who are not here with us on their scheduled days. While we have been very flexible about families’ choices to remain online, we also need to hold students accountable and help them engage thoroughly with their classes. Please help us do this, and please be in touch if you have questions about your student’s standing or attendance.


Enjoy the sunshine, and thank you again for your help, partnership, and willingness to stand together to get through this time.


Take good care,

Dr. Sharon Howell


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