Emotions are running all over the place at the moment! There is excitement as we gear up for the Jog-a-thon, gratitude for donations already made and sadness for what it used to be. There is concern for our neighbors for whom we are collecting food, for those who are struggling during this pandemic, and for those who have lost homes in the fires. There is relief that the transmission rates are decreasing, and there is genuine fear that as we work to open school, someone will contract the virus. These are all very valid emotions. Teachers, students, parents, and neighbors are being faced with challenging situations with no easy answers. I think back, often, to Fr. Crispin’s message during our beginning of the school year Mass: It shall be well.
We are St. John, and together we can find solutions and ways to help. Tomorrow, Fr. Crispin will join us on the sidewalk as you come by with canned/dry food for our neighbors, and he will wave a blessing for the backpacks. We will pray for all those in need. Your students will also receive their Jog-a-thon shirts tomorrow. Thanks for all your contributions so far to our Jog-a-thon. We will run and have fun, not all of us together on one day, but throughout the week of September 28, safely distanced. And yes, we are preparing to gradually, slowly, and safely re-open for our youngest learners (grades K-2).
We continue to monitor the key indicators on King County Decision Tree Dashboard to determine when we are able to open to in-person instruction. At this juncture, we are in a waiting period to determine if the moderate range (25-75 COVID-19 cases/100,000 residents over a 14 day period) is stable or continuing to decrease before implementing in-person instruction for our primary students (grades K-2). Next week, principals of the Catholic Schools will meet with Patty Hayes of Public Health – Seattle & King County. Should the downward trend in transmission rates continue we will welcome K–2 students back to the building on October 5.
A survey for parents of grades K-2 will be available next week for you to indicate, again, your preference for in-person or remote learning. In the meantime, please carefully discern your choice based on your level of comfort in this pandemic situation.
This date will give us clarity about the trend, the opportunity to prepare the classrooms, implement protocols, and pivot lesson delivery. This date also allows for a full month of online learning practice, which is a benefit in case we have to switch back. Because our top priority is the health and safety of all members of our community, we will follow Governor Inslee’s recommendations and reopen slowly and cautiously (see Reopening Plan). We will monitor and practice screening, distancing, student flow, cleaning and sanitizing for this number of students before we bring even larger groups on campus. We will then announce a date for grades 3-5. Keep those masks on!
I am very grateful to the teachers, assistants, students and you for your patience, perseverance, and commitment to MAP testing and remote learning. Each day, as challenges arise, I consciously make time to remind myself of all those things for which I am grateful: Family, friends, a wave from a preschooler, the St. John community, blue sky, rain, health, Chef Michael’s lunch…this list is much longer than the list of challenges. For that I am glad.