Update to Academy Families — September 18, 2020
Dear St. Johnsbury Academy Families,
As we finish our second week of school, I want to thank you all for your continued help with keeping the Academy strong. You and your students are helping us to understand better what we need to do to be effective hybrid teachers, and you are also helping us focus on what’s most important right now: making the most of our time together. We’ve all done a lot of growing in the last few weeks, and it’s made clearer than ever how meaningful it is to teach students not only subject matter in History and Math, not only skills such as writing and presenting, but also simply how to learn for themselves and be open to change.
You should have received some communications from us recently about accessing Academy resources and partnering with us toward the success of your students. I hope you will be in touch with us in the meantime with any questions about how to use these resources, which can help you be more involved with your students’ progress if you wish to be. More will also come to you this coming week about connecting with teachers as we approach the first interim point of the semester. Here are a few updates for you.
- Advisors: As you know, we have intentionally surrounded each student with adults who will be watching their progress and who are available to talk with you should you be concerned about something to do with your child’s experience. We do our best to talk among ourselves, too, to make sure we’re offering the appropriate support for whatever students are grappling with at different moments. The Advisor—with whom students meet every morning—is a critical member of that team of adults that can include classroom teachers, department chairs, Class Deans, Campus Life, counselors, coaches, and many others. If you don’t know the name of your student’s Advisor, please ask—most advisors will have introduced themselves to you, but it’s good for you and your student both to establish a strong and trusting relationship with this key person.
- Attendance and Engagement: Please stay tuned for some more details on Monday about attendance—we are trying to take into account the challenges that many students and teachers have had over the last weeks connecting over Zoom and getting acclimated to the online environment, so we are giving some latitude for all. But we also want everyone to remember that students also need to attend Zoom school, and we are keeping track of online attendance as much as in person. The more you can impress upon your students that they need to be on time and ready to go, the better. We also need to be conscious of contact tracing needs, and for a number of different reasons, to understand clearly who is here and who is not. Thank you for your help with this.
- Health Checks at Home: Day families, please remember to ask students how they’re feeling before they leave home, so they can stay home if they have symptoms.
- Our Hybrid Model: We have confidence in what we’ve put in place for students and staff to be on campus safely this term. We know how excited everyone is to be here, and also that the State of Vermont has suggested that there’s a possibility that we will move to “Step III” in their health and safety guidelines at some point during this fall. Our COVID Response Team is keeping abreast of these reassessments, but we also understand that, apart from some effects on athletic competitions, Step III wouldn’t change too much about what our life on campus would look like. So we want families to know that we are committed to continuing with this low-density strategy throughout the semester. We’ll talk more and in more detail about this in the future, but we want to make sure everyone knows that we think our schedule and calendar work, and we’ve put them in place thoughtfully. We expect to stay with both even though we will adjust elements within our framework as we learn more.
Thanks to everyone for your partnership, as usual, and never hesitate to be in touch with questions and ideas. And remember to thank the hardworking faculty and staff who are keeping us positive and making this a wonderful place for your students.