December 14, 2020

Throughout the first semester, St. James R-I School District has remained flexible to do our very best for students in this ever-changing COVID​ environment. We started the school year with the majority of our students learning on site; with about 10% learning virtually. Although we have adapted to many of the challenges during this pandemic, consistent and stable learning environments have been a struggle. Students are learning despite the circumstances, but they are far from thriving in a world of ungainly and unpredictable quarantines. Over the past few weeks, we have modified our learning formats in all three buildings. Presently, students in grades 6-12 are learning in the hybrid format; and the elementary returned last week to in-person learning after spending one week learning virtually. We have worked hard to support students and families by offering two instructional models: in-person and virtual learning. We remain inspired by our teachers, principals and staff who provide quality learning experiences for our students. 

At STJ Schools, we are always looking and preparing forward. We continue to ask: What more can we do?

  • How can we offer the highest quality education – academically, socially, emotionally and physically?
  • How can we best support our educators to manage this challenging effort to teach and care for students utilizing two instructional models?
  • How can we help our online learners so they have more time with their teachers?
  • How can we provide a safe and healthy environment for our in-person learners at school?

These questions have been at the forefront of many STJ leadership conversations. We have involved our administrators, building leadership teams, parents, medical and health professionals, and board of education members. As we prepare for the second semester our focus remains on doing our best for students and staff. Our students and their learning are at the center of everything we do. We will continue to support our teachers, leaders and staff who are doing their best for our students.

Flexibility in planning will remain our focus due to the inability to predict what tomorrow, next week, and next month will look like. We see progress and feel hope as we make our way through this pandemic. We know more than ever about this virus and how to manage the spread using effective mitigation strategies. It is important that we do not make decisions in December that will lock us into a path that we must continue through June. We will remain flexible as we look at the challenges of the third quarter and then adapt and adjust to any changes coming in the fourth quarter. Our children need stability. We have lived a lifetime of change in just a few months, and the pace is only accelerating as we prepare for the potential distribution of vaccines in the coming weeks. We want to provide stability and consistency for our children during these changing times. As we look to the fourth quarter, we will continue our conversations about next steps. Our strength lies in lifting each other up and uniting our efforts to do our best for our children.

As I look back on all we have accomplished this year so far, I must share my gratitude. It has been a challenging journey, and I am so grateful for our parents and community partnerships as we do our very best for our students. 

As the first semester concludes, I would like to thank you for lending us your most precious possessions each week day during these very challenging times. The staff at St. James R-I School District appreciates your partnership as we work together to provide the best possible learning opportunities for your children. I am hopeful that each of you will have a safe and happy Christmas break and New Year. I look forward to seeing your students as they return on Tuesday, January 5. As a reminder, the Middle School and High School will remain in the hybrid format through Friday, January 15 and will return to full seated instruction on Tuesday, January 19.