Principal’s Letter

For the first time in over a year, students were able to return to full-time, in-person learning. This is an amazing milestone that should be celebrated, and we should feel proud of what we have accomplished as a school community. I am especially grateful for our teachers and their perseverance. They have exemplified resiliency throughout the school year and weathered the many changes and challenges presented by teaching during a pandemic. I am in awe of their abilities to fulfill the mission of the school in the most difficult of circumstances. When I start feeling like I don’t have the resolve to carry on, I look to my staff for inspiration to keep going. Please keep our staff in your prayers.

With this opportunity to fully re-open, however, comes the heightened need to double down on the preventative measures that have enabled us to reach this point – proper mask-wearing, maintaining social distancing, and following CDC and state guidelines for allowable activities outside the classroom. We have been doing this for such a long time, and we all suffer from COVID-fatigue, but we have only 8 weeks remaining in the school year, and now is the time to evaluate what we are doing to ensure we are practicing these vital tools at the highest standard. With the announcement of a 4th wave of Covid in WA state, please take the time to review your current family practices to ensure they align with school policies. Ask yourself if you are doing your part to keep our community safe so that we can finish the rest of the school year with the in-person model.

  • Thank you, parents, for keeping children home when they are not feeling well. We had a handful of students out sick this week with flu-like symptoms. When a child is symptom-free for 24 hours they may return to school. If your child is experiencing seasonal allergies, please provide administration with documentation from your pediatrician. Otherwise, the school may be moved to send your child home. We have to err on the side of caution.
  • Please complete the daily health screening. Only about 60% of families are logging on daily to complete this requirement. Thanks to those families who are completing this daily task.
  • With the increased volume of students on campus, proper mask-wearing is critical. Please use the Washington State Department of Health and CDC guidance below to ensure your child comes to campus meeting the requirements. If your child does not have an appropriate mask, you will be contacted to provide one.

GENERAL GUIDANCE AND HELPFUL TIPS FOR PROPER MASK-WEARING:

  • Masks should be made of two or more layers of tightly-woven fabric and can be worn over a medical procedure mask to improve fit.
  • Masks with exhalation valves, single-layer bandanas, or gaiters will not be permitted. These masks do not comply with WA DOH and CDC recommendations, and given that our students and staff will be closer together under the new 3-foot distance rules, we must uphold a strict standard for masks.
  • Pack spares! Students sometimes want/need to change their masks after lunch or PE. Plan for 2 masks + 1 backup.
  • More guidance on mask-wearing in school settings can be found at WA DOH, Guidance on K-12 Return to School.

MASK Fit checks parents can do:

  • Can you see your child’s nose or chin when they are wearing their mask?
  • Does your child’s mask move or expose their nose when they talk?
  • Observe your child while they wear a mask. Are they adjusting it frequently?
  • Observe how your child is wearing their mask after doing an activity. Are they still wearing it correctly?
  • Additional information on reviewing and improving mask fit can be found on the CDC’s mask guidance page.

FIT CHECK students can do:

  • Ask your child if they can feel their breath tickling their cheeks or eyes when they breathe. If they can, the mask is not fitting well. This is an easy self-check tool that empowers kids and helps them understand proper mask-wearing when parents are not present.
  • Adjust mask fit – tie knots around ear loops, purchase adjusters or ear-savers to increase comfort and tighten fit.
  • We have been at this for over a year, and some of our masks show it! This is the time to throw out old, worn or loose-fitting masks.

REMINDERS FOR ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE OF THE CLASSROOM:

With the warming weather and start of Spring, social gatherings, sports, and club activities are on the rise. It is important to still remain vigilant in safety practices. For example, COVID cases are still very high in King County and the CDC warns that extracurricular activities can drive the spread of new, more transmissible virus variants. Refer to the current COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions under the state’s Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery plan for information about what is permitted for social activities. Even if you are vaccinated, it is important to protect others; most people, including children, are not vaccinated yet. The CDC’s latest guidance for fully vaccinated people can be found here.

STAFFING UPDATES:  PE, PreK, Library

With sad hearts, we announce that some of our beloved teachers are moving on at the end of this year. Miss Tsagalakis, PE, is moving out of state. She has led our students through virtual PE as well as a year of outdoor PE, encouraging them through rain, sleet, wind, and the recent burst of welcome warm weather. We will miss her and thank her for her boundless energy, enthusiasm, and caring approach.

Miss Halley, PreK teacher, is leaving the country in the fall! Miss Halley has taught in extended daycare and in the preschool.  The children will miss her calm, nurturing care and guidance and her fun deep dive into “Show and Share.” We wish her the best on her next adventure and thank her for her many contributions.

After 4 years in the library and a year back in the classroom, Mrs. Longton has decided to spend more time with her family. I am so grateful for her willingness this year to take on a full-time teaching position when we had to re-imagine the classrooms. With very little notice, she revived all her great and steady teaching skills to join the first-grade team. We thank Mrs. Longton for her many contributions to the school.

Some of these positions are posted, and we are actively hiring.

Mrs. Diane Crockett, Business Manager, is semi-retiring. Diane has been an integral part of the administrative team here for 30+ years. As she holds the keys to so much institutional knowledge, school history, and serves as the spiritual heartbeat of St. John, we are fortunate she has agreed to remain on as a consultant to help with the transition. Mrs. Crockett’s position has grown over the years. Her position will be filled by two people. Mrs. Di Tran, who has already been at Mrs. Crockett’s side, will handle communications and enrollment, while Mrs. Andrea Marquez will move from Fundraising to take over the accounting and budgeting side of Mrs. Crockett’s position.

We wish our departing faculty and staff health, happiness, and grand adventures while keeping them close to our heart.

Bernadette O’Leary