The SJS COVID-19 Response Message Board
Please refer to this page for any important information, communication, and updates regarding St. Joseph School's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and our policies/procedures to ensure a safe environment for students, faculty, and staff.
Welcome Back to the 2020-2021 School Year
As August approaches, even in the midst of a global pandemic, one can’t help but think of “Back to School”. I’d like to start by welcoming everyone to St. Joseph School. For those families who are returning, welcome back. We’ve truly missed you! For our new families, welcome to our school family! We are excited to partner with you on your child’s educational journey.
These are new and uncertain times for our world. Education is just one small part of the many things that have been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. And while these times can be anxious and unnerving, it is important to remember that we are all in this together. While this mantra has been chanted many times since March, it still holds true today. If we work together and support each other, we will get through this as we will any other challenge that comes our way. St. Joseph School is here to support you and work with you in the education of our children’s minds, hearts, and souls. Please know that we are doing everything possible to prepare for any scenario that the 2020-2021 school year may bring with the safety and educational wellbeing of our students, faculty, and staff as the driving factor of our planning.
The theme for the 2020-2021 school year comes from the beginning of the Bible. Fitting as this pandemic has resulted in many things being forced “back to the drawing board”. We are looking at how to continue our over 100 year tradition of Catholic education in new ways, through new platforms, and with new factors in mind while still focusing on our mission to provide the “highest quality of spiritual and academic education” to our students. So, it only makes sense that we visit the Book of Genesis for this year’s theme: “Let there be light.” In the beginning, there was darkness, a metaphor for many aspects of a global pandemic. Yet, God called out, “Let there be light”. And light was created. This year, we will focus on the light. We will go back to the beginning, start anew, and focus on how, with God’s help, we will overcome any struggle, any challenge, any darkness that may be trying to hold us back.
This light will shine through St. Joseph School’s commitment to academic excellence. It will shine through the determination of our faculty to support our students wherever they are at. It will shine through our families ‘resilience by investing their children’s future in the benefits of a Catholic education. It will be seen in new policies and procedures to keep our students safe. It will be seen in our focus on our students’ emotional growth and wellbeing. We are starting fresh, after a very different spring trimester, to ensure each child learns, grows, and most importantly, has fun while being a student at St. Joseph School. Together, we will be the light.
As the last few months have proven, things can change by the day. That being said, we are planning for three phases of school: Green (all in-person instruction with health and safety regulations in place), Yellow (potential hybrid programs of in-school and remote instruction), and Red (all remote instruction). As of now, we plan to return in Green Phase to in-person instruction at St. Joseph School for Wednesday, August 26th (for grades K-8 as Pre-K will begin as normal the following week). Please note that the first three days of school (Aug. 26th-28th) will be half days of school to allow for a gradual transition back into school. While this plan can still change based on state and local regulations, we are confident that the plan we have in place will ensure student safety while still promoting the excellent education St. Joseph School has delivered year after year. Any changes to this plan will be communicated to families as soon as possible via our school-wide email list and School Messenger call system. If you have not been receiving general emails from me over the summer, please contact the Main Office as soon as possible so we can make sure to update our school email list.
All policies and procedures that are being implemented for the return to in-person instruction at St. Joseph School were created following state, local, and Archdiocesan guidelines and the information provided by family and faculty surveys. The plan was reviewed and approved by our Return to In-Person Instruction Team, consisting of the SJS School Board, medical and health/safety professionals, and by the Archdiocese of Hartford’s Office of Education, Evangelization, and Catechesis (OEEC). These policies and procedures are outlined in SJS Plan to Return to In-Person Instruction which was emailed to families and is on our website. Videos explaining each area will also be available on my YouTube channel and the school’s Facebook page in August (links will be emailed to families).
With these policy and procedural changes in mind, we are altering some of our regularly scheduled “start of school” events to accommodate social distancing regulations. Please see below for these changes.
School Year Preparation:
- Tuesday, August 18th: an informational session explaining policy/procedural changes related to social distancing and student safety will be held via Zoom at 6pm. Pre-registration is required. Please email me at [email protected] to sign up. Additional sessions will be added for another date if need be.
- Wednesday, August 19th: an in-person informational session explaining policy/procedural changes will be held at 6pm in the Guild Hall. RSVP is required to ensure a safe limit of capacity.
- If you cannot attend either of the above sessions but would like to ask any questions, please feel free to reach out to me directly. I will email notes from both sessions to all school families after Wednesday’s session.
- Thursday, August 20th: New Family Orientation will be held via Zoom at 6pm. Families will be emailed the invitation link.
- Monday, August 24th & Tuesday, August 25th: “Meet the Teacher” Night will be held via Zoom at scheduled times over two days. This is to avoid all classes happening all at the same time in order to accommodate families with students in multiple grades. Teachers will reach out to families with more information the week prior. While some sessions due overlap, families are asked to reach out to your classroom teacher if you are unable to attend a particular session at the scheduled time.
- Kindergarten Orientation: Kindergarten Orientation, which traditionally was held in-person and the same day as New Family Orientation, will take place during the “Meet the Teacher” Zoom session with the Kindergarten teacher on Monday, August 24th.
- Wednesday, August 26th (Half Day of School K-8): the First Day of School for grades K-8.
- Thursday, August 27th (Half Day of School K-8): Pre-K 3 Orientation at 10am. Students and families should report to the Guild Hall (St. Joseph Church basement).
- Friday, August 28th (Half Day of School K-8): Pre-K 4 Orientation at 10am. Students and families should report to the Guild Hall (St. Joseph Church basement).
- Monday, August 31st: First Day of School for Pre-K 3 & 4 (this will be a half day for PK students only).
I again thank you for your continued cooperation, patience, and support during last spring’s remote learning and our planning for the 2020-2021 school year. As we await any last minute changes to recommendations and policies that may come in early August, we hope to send home our tentative Plan to Return to In-Person Instruction during the week of August 10th. Please stay tuned for more information and feel free to reach out to me directly with any questions/concerns you may have.
We will get through this together!
Eric Frenette LPC, NCC
St. Joseph School
Weekly "State of SJS" Notes from Mr. Frenette
Will begin the first week of school!