Last week, Governor Parson announced that all Missouri schools will remain closed through the end of the 2019-2020 academic year. According to the St. James R-I 2019-2020 academic calendar, our last day of school will be Friday, May 15. All extracurricular practices and other after school activities during this time are canceled as well. All school buildings will remain closed for the rest of the school year…but school services will continue through the last day of school. Those continued services include providing much-needed meals to our students as well as alternative learning opportunities. Our Alternative Methods of Instruction (AM) format will continue to be creative, innovative and persistent in our pursuit to reach all of our students with a variety of academic opportunities. We will continue to provide learning opportunities each week in the Saint James Press for students who may not have access to technology or the internet. Our teachers will continue to make contact with their students over the phone, electronically, and through video conferencing to deliver instruction and provide feedback. We will continue our meal distribution program through the end of the year as well. You can find all school nutrition updates on the “St. James R-I School Nutrition” Facebook page. I cannot applaud our teachers and school nutrition staff enough, as well as our families at home, for stepping up to the plate to make learning and meals a possibility amid this new normal.
The Governor’s announcement brings with it many uncertainties. We understand there will be many questions about the remainder of this school year and throughout the summer. As questions arise, we encourage you to send them to the appropriate administrator so we can compile a comprehensive list. The most up-to-date answers to many of your questions can be found on our district website under the “COVID-19 Resources” page. The most critical announcements will continue to be communicated through the School Messenger platform, district website, and our social media accounts.
Below, I will address the four most frequently asked questions:
- How will this impact graduating seniors?: Mr. Stammers and his staff have been working diligently concerning a graduation plan. We are awaiting feedback from a Senior Parent Survey and from individual seniors. At this time, we are considering several different dates in late summer. We are also looking at an outside ceremony as well as the usual Middle School gymnasium venue. We are working on contingency plans so we can responsibly respond to any extensions in social distance and gathering parameters. We are working to keep the event as traditional as possible, but please know we anticipate some audience restrictions guidance as we move forward.
- How will this impact Prom?: Mr. Stammers has engaged students and parents through a variety of interactions to develop a consensus among participants. Using the same thinking as graduation, we are working on date options using the same schedule flexibility for a late summer event. There is a chance Prom could be cancelled altogether.
- What about kindergarten registration?: Kindergarten registration has been postponed until a date to be determined prior to the school start date in the Fall. Mrs. Janes-Miller will keep kindergarten parents informed through the district webpage, the Lucy Wortham James Elementary Facebook page, the Saint James Press, and on the radio (KZNN).
- Will we have Summer School?: Due to the concerns associated with academic regression during this extended summer, plans are in the works to continue with summer school. There is a state education department committee working to provide further guidance to school districts. We are presently looking at late summer options, possibly July or even as late as August. There will be much more to learn in the coming days, weeks and months.
In all rescheduling circumstances, new event dates will be announced once we have time to respond to further closure guidance. We are committed to sharing these plans with you as they develop. We realize there will be many more questions to answer as this situation continues to evolve.
This is a heartbreaking finale for so many, but it was a necessary action to ensure the safety and well-being of our students and staff. We will continue to support our students, families and staff until we come back to the regular school setting in the future. We continue to learn each day through this unique challenge. I continue to be inspired and touched by the collective community spirit throughout St. James. Thank you for your patience and continued support of our efforts to work together during this time.