August 18, 2020

The challenging summer of 2020 is drawing to a close and we are ready to reopen our schools for the 2020-2021 academic year. The faculty and staff have demonstrated great resilience since last Spring and throughout the entire summer. This week our educational staff will be participating in back to school professional development and training for the school year. Much of our professional development has shifted to learning best practices to teach our students in a blended (traditional and virtual) format… and to do so simultaneously. Teachers are becoming increasingly skilled at using various forms of technology and resources to teach virtually. Teachers are becoming increasingly knowledgeable about safety precautions in regards to appropriately modeling responsible behaviors. At St. James R-I Schools, we are doing everything possible to not close our schools due to safety related oversights or apathy. Our staff is committed to modeling all safety expectations. We will be wearing masks. We will respect necessary quarantine. We will responsibly participate in contact tracing. We will follow gathering restrictions and adhere to social distancing recommendations. We will wash our hands. If we are sick, we will stay at home. We will not participate in discussions about COVID-19 being a farce or political stunt. We are hopeful our parents and patrons within the community will support us by doing the same at home and throughout St. James. To flatten the curve in St. James and throughout our surrounding area, we must model responsible behaviors. Our negligence in following these simple safety precautions may be a significant factor in increasing the risk of closing our schools. It’s up to us to lead by example so our schools will remain open!!! 

I am proud of the way our staff has taken on all of these challenges. We are ready to tackle the unknowns of this school year with great energy, motivation, and determination. We fully intend to continue moving our district forward by preparing the best possible learning opportunities for our students to be successful. We continue to adapt to the circumstances of COVID-19 and prepare for the possible school closures we may encounter. We continue to adapt to the circumstances of operating a high school under construction and recently learning we will have to begin the school year in a remote virtual learning format for all high school students due to safety issues associated with compromised roofs. Our high school teachers have already expressed their commitment to positively navigate through this new challenge. We are fortunate to have a team of professionals who exemplify resilience through flexibility, grace, patience, and grit!!! Although we cannot predict the future, we understand this school year will be a very challenging year for public school educators. We understand we must work harder than ever before to prepare for a new way to educate our students. What we have always known and practiced will not be what or how we will do business this year. At St. James R-I Schools, we are committed to rising to the challenges of being the best district we can be for our students. 

Our St. James R-I staff will continue to treat our students like their own. We have dedicated staff who are passionate about empowering our students through caring relationships, academic excellence, and community partnerships. We will model appropriate behaviors. We will encourage, train, teach, and love our students to the best of our abilities. We do all of these things to provide our students the necessary skills to reach their individual potentials. 

Staying positive through all of these challenges is a necessity for perseverance. Maintaining a positive attitude does not mean we are in denial about how bleak the reality of the situation may be. It means we are choosing to focus on our potential for making a difference, rather than dwelling on the negative circumstances that we are unable to control. At St. James R-I Schools, we will not cultivate a survivalist mentality. We will thrive through these challenges and adapt to this new educational environment. 

For parents who decided to send your students to school – Thank you for the trust you are placing in us to responsibly educate your children in a safe seated environment. We take this responsibility very seriously. For parents who decided to enroll your students in our preferred online format, STJ Virtual – Thank you for the trust you are placing in us to create a virtual option that will meet the needs of your students until we are able to go back to a 100% seated format. And, for the parents of high school students who were just notified that our seated option has been temporarily moved to a virtual option, we are sorry for this inconvenience. We know you support and embrace the traditional setting. Please know we are doing everything possible to quickly remedy the high school roof issues so your students can return to school as soon as possible. 

Regardless of these many challenges, we’re going to have a fantastic year at St. James R-I Schools! It’s a great day to be a Tiger!!! #stjtigerpride