October 5, 2020

Published: October 5, 2020
Superintendent Reports

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It’s hard to believe October is already here and we are nearing the end of the first quarter!  It has been an extraordinary year as we continue to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic. Even in difficult times, the early days have flown by with many exceptional student and staff accomplishments! I would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding as we continue this journey through uncharted territory. The daily support given to our schools has been wonderful. 

Public schools remaining open during the pandemic continue to be a concern for many educators, parents, and citizens across our country. Recently, these concerns have grown considering the many high profile people like President Trump, Governor Parson, NFL quarterback Cam Newton, and many others who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Although COVID numbers throughout our district and community are low, we are seeing increases in cases nationally and statewide. We understand the reality that we may not be able to continue experiencing these low rates all school year. I have had concerned parents contact me requesting us to consider limiting spectators at sports events or maybe even eliminating spectators altogether. Some feel live-streaming sports events instead of allowing spectators would be a way to keep our schools open longer. Restricting or completely eliminating spectators would undoubtedly be an unpopular decision, but it may be the appropriate thing to do before “closing physical classrooms” becomes a legitimate conversation.  

St. James R-I Schools have been fortunate concerning positive cases and outbreaks thus far. We know this will more than likely not be the case as we navigate through the fall and winter months. At last month’s board of education meeting, we discussed the possibility of a hybrid plan which would include an “A” (Monday-Wednesday), “B” (Tuesday, Thursday) format. We will be introducing a finalized hybrid plan at the October 15 board meeting. We are hopeful we will not be forced to mobilize this plan, but having a well-developed and communicated plan is the appropriate thing to do at this time. Once this plan is presented, it will be added into our COVID-19 Reopening Plan. This hybrid plan addendum will be available for review on our website and it will also be communicated through social media. For now, St. James R-I Schools will continue operating under Daily Mode Indicator – Level 2, which consists of our present mode of seated instruction with a virtual option. We will continue to monitor the local positivity rate, confirmed COVID-19 cases, number of students/staff in quarantine, and the absenteeism rate before making any changes to our current plan. Clear and immediate communications will be provided to our parents and patrons if/when changes to our instructional format is made. 

The first quarter will end on October 23. This year, Parent/Teacher Conferences will be virtual. These conferences are scheduled for Tuesday, October 27 from 3:30-7pm and Thursday, October 29 from 1-7pm. We will dismiss school early on Thursday, October 29 at 12:30pm (all Middle School times will be 20 minutes later). These conferences present a great opportunity for parents and teachers to discuss not only how students are doing, but it gives everyone a chance to “get on the same page” for expectations for the rest of the year. It takes a team effort for students to succeed and parents are an integral part of that team. Any parent who is unable to connect virtually or via phone conference may contact the school office to set up an in-person conference. Each school building will release information soon on how conferences will be handled in their buildings. There will be no school on Friday, October 30.

As our weather starts turning to fall, enjoy the change before it gets too cold! In the meantime, we will do everything possible as a district to continue moving STJ Tiger Pride forward in spite of the pandemic. Go Tigers!