Update to Academy Families — March 19, 2021

Bell tower an flag
March 19, 2021

Dear St. Johnsbury Academy Families,


Today is the anniversary of the first Vermont deaths from COVID-19, and many families will remember that it was this time last year schools closed in response to the pandemic. Tonight at 7pm I will ring the bell in the Colby Hall tower to honor those who have died of COVID in this past year. I want also to honor all of those who have tried so hard to help students and each other to be strong and resilient. It is not over yet, but it will be: we just have to hang on. Some quick updates:


  • Please sign up for virtual “Meet the Teachers” on the 25th and 26th (next Thursday and Friday). These are such important opportunities for us to partner with you toward your student’s success, so please make time for a conference if you can. Remember there will be no classes on Friday, March 26th.


  • If you have a returning Academy boarding student, please be sure to re-enroll! Boarding families have received new enrollment contracts from the Admissions office, and we’re here to answer any questions families may have.


  • Many of our teachers and staff have been vaccinated—but it will be a while before students are (16 and over will be eligible on April 19th in Vermont). We’re all frustrated by the limitations on travel for the April Break, and I am truly sorry to have to impose them. But COVID numbers in Vermont are high, and there’s still much to learn about how the vaccines work. In the meantime, please find joy where you can, stay put, and wait a little longer for the clouds to part.


  • Speaking of which, tomorrow is the first day of Spring, which means warmer weather and more time outside. The governor signaled in his press conference today that he hopes we might have somewhat normal or “more traditional” Senior Celebrations at the end of the year—more on that as we learn more, but that is music to our ears!


The CDC just introduced new guidelines allowing children in elementary school to keep 3-foot distance while in school, and while Vermont has not yet weighed in on what this might mean for high schools, we are keen to understand what our options are for getting those students who are ready back to school full-time. We are aware that some families are keeping students online for various good reasons, and we respect that, especially given that more COVID has been in the community (again, school is not where COVID is spread). We do hope, though, that those students who are slated to be in school on cohort days attend—and we ask for your help with making sure they do.


Thank you as always for your support and for reaching out with your concerns and questions. We can hear in your notes—parents and students alike—how painful many aspects of this moment continue to be. I can only say that with new guidelines, the energy of spring, and the vaccine, we hope sincerely that we will soon be able to celebrate the end of this year together.


Take care,

Dr. Sharon Howell


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