May 18, 2020

Last Friday was our official final day of the 2019-2020 school year. I would like to thank all students, parents, and staff for working so well together through the school closure. Our students and parents quickly responded to the closure by displaying a willingness to learn in a very new way. Our educational staff displayed much diligence in reaching out to their students to support home learning as much as possible. Our school nutrition team expeditiously organized a safe and efficient way to distribute meals to our students. And, our custodial and maintenance teams expeditiously toiled to disinfect all classrooms, restrooms, and facilities by using the best available sanitation equipment. It has truly been a remarkable team effort by everyone! 

As we all begin to enjoy our summer and refresh for the possibility of summer school or the new school year, the leadership at St. James R-I Schools will continue to prepare for a variety of educational options for the summer and upcoming Fall. While the future is never clear, we continue to encourage creativity and innovation as we evaluate how to best prepare educational opportunities and options for students… if we unfortunately find ourselves quarantined again. We are presently considering multiple platforms and feasibility options if the need arises.  

In an effort to present appropriate opportunities through the summer, St. James R-I Schools wants to ensure our students will receive the best possible education to help alleviate any academic loss caused by the closure. A virtual summer school has been scheduled for high school students during the month of June. For more information about this online June high school summer school, contact Mr. Phil West. 

We are tentatively planning a seated K-12 summer school in July (or beyond) once state and local health officials modify or withdraw the social distancing guidelines. If social distancing guidelines are not modified or withdrawn, possible in-person cohorts for select classes are being considered for later in the summer. If necessary, summer school could be postponed to early or mid August. Prom has been set for Saturday, June 20 at the Middle School from 8-11pm. If social distancing parameters are still in place on this date, a virtual Prom may be organized… or it may be canceled altogether. Graduation has been set for Friday, June 26 at 7pm at the football field. The outdoor graduation will allow for a more safeguarded setting for all in attendance. Should we not have an all-clear to host a large, public event by this date, we will continue to move the date of graduation back one week at a time. If an all-clear is not likely as we near August, we will move to a very restricted ceremony. As a last resort, we may even consider a virtual graduation ceremony.  

Daily school routines and procedures as we know them may never be the same again. As far as our return in the Fall, we are presently considering three different options. Our first option to consider is for students to come back to all campuses on Tuesday, August 25 with restrictions in place. As small outbreaks occur, we would close school for 7 to 14 days for deep cleaning and other health measures. Our second option to consider is for students to come back to all campuses on Tuesday, August 25 with restrictions in place. We would begin the year with staggered or blended learning cohorts. This would include a coordinated bus schedule with each staggered cohort. As small outbreaks occur, we would close school for 5 to 7 days for deep cleaning and testing before the unaffected cohort(s) would return. Our third option to consider is for school to start back in August with home-based online learning. Campuses would not be open for in-person teaching until January or if a vaccine for COVID-19 is made widely available. 

There are so many unknowns at this time. We will continue to provide the most recent updates once determinations are known. Your patience through this unusual time has been greatly appreciated. For now, please take some time to enjoy your summer and we will continue to be hopeful for an August 25 regular “back to school” return.