Information and Updates about the Novel Coronavirus, Covid-19

St. James Academy is actively monitoring new developments with the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. We will regularly update the St. James community through email about the School's preparation and responses. Please continue to check this page regularly, as it reflects up-to-date correspondence.

Email Communications from SJA

COVID-19 Preparedness Update

Dear St. James Academy Community,

The health and wellness of our students and community is always our top priority. While the current risk to St. James Academy from coronavirus (COVID-19) remains low, we are closely monitoring the spread of the virus. We continue to be diligent in helping to prevent the spread of the flu and other illnesses on our campus with thorough daily use of disinfectant cleaners and regularly reminding our students and faculty of their role in keeping our community healthy (i.e., regular hand-washing, coughing/sneezing into their elbow rather than into their hands, etc.).

As you may know, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued warnings this week about COVID-19 and indicated that they believe the virus is likely to spread in communities in the United States. We are reviewing all measures and recommendations regarding the well being of the Academy and Church communities. As always, we also remind you and your families to continue actions to promote good health such as frequent handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes, getting flu shots, and not sharing utensils, straws or drinks. We encourage you to visit the CDC website for the most updated and thorough information on both COVID-19 and seasonal flu, which poses a far greater risk at this time.

We will continue to support our students and families as we monitor the COVID-19 developments, and we will update the community as necessary. If you would like to discuss your family’s circumstances or have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Thank you in advance for your partnership and understanding as we work together for the health and safety of all members of the St. James Community.

Sincerely,

Charlotte S. Riggs
Head of School

Susanne Paturzo RN
School Nurse

St. James Academy COVID-19 Preparedness

Dear St. James Academy Families,

I am sharing an update with you on St. James’s response related to COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes the risk to the general American public is currently low. However, as always, the health and safety of our students and community members is our top priority, and our goal is to keep you as informed as possible throughout this time.

We have implemented a number of steps to keep our school healthy and limit the potential transmission of COVID-19 and other viruses while educating our students with the best age-appropriate information available. These steps include:

● Increased frequency of and scope of disinfecting surfaces (tabletops, door handles, light switches, etc.)
● Increased availability of hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes
● Reinforcing best hygiene practices (handwashing, etc.)
● Students sanitize their hands on entering their first class of the day
● All visitors to the school will be asked to sanitize their hands when entering the building

While the risk is still low for our community right now, we are reviewing our crisis and contingency plans, as well as evaluating upcoming programs to be sure we are prepared for any disruptions. We are actively monitoring all updates relating to the virus regarding state and federal mandates and continue to follow the advice from local health officials and AIMS and NAIS. We will provide any updates as needed.

Sincerely,

Charlotte S. Riggs
Head of School

Susanne Paturzo, RN

School Nurse

Update- Distance Learning Plan

Dear St. James Academy Families,

We are actively monitoring the spread of COVID-19 and continue to implement action to keep our school healthy and limit potential transmission. As we follow the state and federal mandates, our goal is to be prepared. Should we need to have a necessary extended closure, we will initiate a learning plan for our students. This plan would involve the implementation of a Distance Learning platform to enable SJA teachers to send daily work to be completed at home.

To allow our faculty to prepare and plan accordingly for possible closure, we will have a Professional Development Day this Friday, and St. James Academy will be closed to students on Friday, March 13. We recognize that this is an inconvenience and will provide childcare until noon for any family that requires it. Please email Amy Kaltenbach akaltenbach@saintjamesacademy.org if you will need childcare this Friday.

As part of our commitment to the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty, and the larger community, we have made modifications on campus. Safety protocols are in place, and we will provide time for students to wash their hands throughout the day. Our maintenance team frequently sanitizes and disinfects targeted areas. Additionally, our Task Force team continues to follow the CDC’s recommendation of preventive actions to stop the spread of germs. Our calm and caring faculty is also mindful of possible anxiety for students at this time and limits discussion about the virus.

With spring break approaching, we are asking all staff, faculty, parents and students to please follow the CDC’s recommendation for anyone traveling to these designated locations. Among the guidelines, the CDC is asking anyone who travels to a Level 3 Country to self-quarantine for 14 days upon return. Currently, the only countries on the list are China, Iran, South Korea, and Italy, but the list may change. Please be sure to check the guidelines prior to any travel. Please know that St. James Academy is committed to supporting any student who may miss classes because of illness or quarantine status. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to me.

Sincerely,

Charlotte S. Riggs
Head of School

Susanne Patruzo

School Nurse

Message from Ms. Riggs: Distance Learning Plan

Dear St. James Academy Families,

A lot has happened this week regarding the spread of COVID-19, and our reality right now is that school is temporarily closed. The plan is to continue to provide rigor, spark curiosity, and encourage community for our students in a flexible way to allow for engaging and robust instructional continuity. 

As I mentioned in my letter on March 12, we will start our Distance Learning Plan for students beginning on March 23. You will receive a letter from Ian Clark or Lisa Davis specific to lower and middle school divisions on Sunday. Teachers will begin share to specifics about grade-level work with you shortly.  

Our hope is to have some normalcy for this “new normal.” I realize that remote learning may be different for every student depending on the dynamics and needs of each of our families. This new learning method could be a lot for families, so we are providing this helpful guide for parents.  

Here is the link to our web page for our Distance Learning Plan. All information is collected on this centralized webpage. We want to keep it simple and easy for students and families to find information and follow the plan. Additionally, here is a helpful list of Technology Systems to Support Distance Learning

We will keep our students and faculty needs at the forefront and will send a check-in survey at the end of next week to students, families, teachers to listen and review. It is important for us to be flexible as we learn along the way knowing that we may need to make some adjustments. 

Along with missing their friends and feeling disappointment, students’emotional well being could be affected by distance learning, and we are fortunate to have Dr. Pentz available to provide support to you or your child during these challenging times. Please contact her via email to schedule a phone appointment. We have a list of helpful resources for parents from Dr. Pentz below and also on our Distance Learning Webpage.

You will receive an update from me each Friday unless there is information to share with the community sooner.  As always, if you have any questions, please reach out to me by email or at this new number: (410) 635-0352.

We are a strong community, learning together as we navigate and adapt to our temporary virtual school. We are a vibrant community, supporting one another and focusing on the bright lights in our lives during this challenging time.   

Warmly,

Charlotte S. Riggs
Head of School

Letter from Ms. Riggs: Extended School Closing

Dear St. James Academy Families,

As many of you heard today, Governor Larry Hogan and Maryland State Superintendent Karen Salmon ordered the State of Maryland’s K-12 schools to remain closed for the next four weeks until April 24.  AIMS recommends that independent schools remain closed through April 24 as well.  Our priority is the health and safety of our students, your families, and our faculty and staff.  Therefore, following the Governor’s direction and guidance from AIMS, St. James Academy will be closed for the next four weeks through April 24.

We are only on day three of our Distance Learning Plan, and I hope that everyone has begun to adjust to this new transition and routine. Please continue to give me and our teachers any feedback so that we can support you and your child. We will share a weekly survey, beginning this Friday. Our primary focus is to provide engagement, a sense of routine, a measure of normalcy, and most importantly connectedness for our students.

Please tell your children that I and their teachers miss them, that we know how important it is for them to see their friends and teachers, and that we can “Foxhound Facetime” together as much as needed.

I will continue to send updates in the coming weeks, and I hope that you and your loved ones continue to stay healthy.

Warmly,

Charlotte S. Riggs
Head of School

A Prayer from Pastor Joe

Gracious God, creator and ruler of all there is, seen and unseen, thank you for the St. James Community.  Thank you for our students, our teachers, and our staff members.  Keep us inquisitive, flexible, playful, connected, faithful, and loving as we are separated from one another.  Give us strong memories of the faces and voices and personalities of our classmates and teachers.  Be with us in the joys and challenges of distance learning, and deepen our love of learning as we navigate the days and weeks ahead.  All this we pray in Christ’s name.  Amen.   

Message from Ms. Riggs: Week Two of Distance Learning

Dear St. James Academy Families, 

We are grateful to you for your partnership as we navigate these weeks with our Distance Learning Plan and new approaches to remote learning. I appreciate your feedback after our first week as we work through this new experience. We are committed to providing constant review and refinement of the plan, and our hard-working teachers will make adjustments for an optimal experience for your child. 

Along with adapting to a virtual school, your families are also adjusting to living, working and learning in one place. We understand that this transition is challenging for all. Our hope is that our program continues to engage your child, inspire creativity and purpose, and provide continued connection to friends and teachers that is very important during this time of physical distancing. Additionally, we hope that our school can assist your family throughout this uncertain time and offer any guidance and support.

I have received updates from many families with highlights from the past two weeks. Several lost a first tooth, learned to ride a bike, started to cook, and one student built a leprechaun trap (that worked!) I also heard about the quality family time that you are having, a welcomed silver lining amidst an unsettling time.

A few things for this week:

  • Chapel resumes with Pastor Joe and Mrs. Gathman
  • Here is an optional activity for students and families

I will continue to keep families updated about school decisions. I wish you all a great Week Two of our Distance Learning Plan and hope that you and your loved ones continue to stay healthy.

Warmly,

Charlotte S. Riggs
Head of School

Message from Ms. Riggs: Week Four

Dear St. James Academy Families,

I hope that your families had a lovely Easter and a restful weekend.

We are so fortunate to have a very thoughtful and supportive community. Several families have shared photos of students engaging in school projects and other activities that reflect how they are using their time to help others and support one another. Students and teachers are making masks at home, many are supporting small businesses with gift cards, and one of our parents, Dave Chun, is a personal trainer who is generously offering free 20-minute online workout sessions for SJA parents to do with their children at home. Click his website here. Additionally, here is a supportive and special message from SJA students and alums wishing you well during your time at home.

I look forward to hosting virtual parent coffees this week for our parents to answer questions and hear about families. Lower School Parent Coffee is on Thursday, and Middle School is on Friday. Below are the times: please RSVP to Katherine Taylor ktaylor@saintjamesacademy.org who will send information and instructions regarding the zoom call.

Lower School: Thursday, April 16:  9-9:30 am or  33:30 pm
Middle School: Friday, April 17: 10-10:30am or  33:30 pm

All AIMS and NAIS schools continue to monitor the COVID situation and how it affects schools in our area, specifically extended closure. I will send any updates or information regarding extended closures for SJA.  Although we have not canceled school for the remainder of the school year, our administration is having conversations about our wonderful year-end events and how we can re-imagine them. Events like Field Day, Moving-up Day, Awards Day, and Graduation are all top of mind. I acknowledge that there is much disappointment for families and students regarding our annual traditions, and we will think creatively about making these culminating events very meaningful and memorable should school remain closed.

As a reminder, our goal is to provide a safe virtual learning environment for our students; therefore, we have added an additional level of security to the Distance Learning section of the website. Beginning on Tuesday, April 14th, a password will be required to access the Daily Learning Grids. The password required to access the grids is sjafoxhounds2020

I wish you good health as we begin our fourth week of Distance Learning.

Warmly,

Charlotte S. Riggs
Head of School

Message from Ms. Riggs: Message from Ms. Riggs: Week 5

Dear St. James Academy Families,

I hope you all are well as we start our fifth week of Distance Learning. Here is a video message from me that includes the decision to extend our school closing through May 15th. Our faculty and staff are working to re-imagine our special spring events and will share information shortly.

I continue to be impressed with the projects that I see from our students and teachers—from artwork such as “found object” sculptures and a painted stained glass window on a front door to bowling math lessons and student-made math videos that explain zero-product property equations. There is much creativity and imagination within our teaching and learning.

It was so nice to see the parents who could attend our Parent Coffees last week and to hear about your families. We will continue to host virtual parent coffees this week, Lower School Parent Coffee on Thursday and Middle School on Friday. Below are the times: please RSVP to Katherine Taylor ktaylor@saintjamesacademy.org who will send information and instructions regarding the zoom call.

Lower School: Thursday, April 23:  9:30- 10 am or  3-3:30 pm
Middle School: Friday, April 24: 10-10:30 am or  3-3:30 pm

Several of you have asked about ideas for activities for your families. Please share any activities in this document that your children and family have enjoyed.

Our Open Mic Night/Coffee House has been rescheduled for Friday, May 15th, at 6:30 pm. Lower school AND middle school students are invited to participate. Please contact Mrs. Martin for more details (rmartin@saintjamesacademy.org). We look forward to seeing these student performances.

This week is virtual Spirit Week. Please take pictures and upload them into the google folder each day, click here. This is certainly optional, and we hope your whole family will participate. If you have questions, please email aoleszczuk@saintjamesacademy.org or ktaylor@saintjamesacademy.org.

Thank you for your continued support of our wonderful SJA community during this time.  I hope that you and your loved ones continue to stay healthy.

Warmly,

Charlotte S. Riggs
Head of School

Message from Ms. Riggs: Week 7

Dear St. James Academy Families,

Last week I joined several zoom classes and enjoyed seeing our students. Though zoom doesn’t replace being together, it is certainly a helpful social connecter right now.  I hope everyone is able to manage the “zoom fatigue” that can set in while we do school and work remotely. Our teachers are mindful of this for our students as we head into week seven.

With these first few lovely days of May, I want to share some timely spring jokes that the first grade told in one of their zoom classes. A bit of humor is always appreciated; please share your favorite jokes with me anytime.

“Does February like March? No, but April may.”

“What did the big flower say to the little flower? You are really growing, Bud.”

In English class, our seventh-grade students wrote and illustrated short stories in groups that they read to lower school classes over zoom. Please view their creative work here.

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week at St. James Academy. We are so lucky to have a great team of educators who can teach virtually and produce online lessons effectively and creatively. Not only have they seamlessly continued the learning for our students, but they have also shown the care, attention and support our students need right now. And did you know that they can also dance?! They like to spread joy, too. (created and edited by Sam Anecharico, 5th grade)

I wish you another good week of Distance Learning and hope you and your loved ones continue to stay healthy.

Happy Spring!

Warmly,

Charlotte S. Riggs
Head of School

Message from Ms. Riggs: School Campus Closure

Dear St. James Academy Families,

It is hard to believe that we are in week seven of our distance learning and that we have not been physically together at all this spring. I commend every member of our community from our teachers, staff and students to our parents and board members for their resilience and patience throughout this unusual time. It has certainly been an adjustment for all of us.

As you know, the Superintendent and Governor have ordered Maryland schools to close their campuses for the remainder of the school year. We will follow this directive in order to keep our School and Church secure during this pandemic and will extend our distance learning program until the end of the school year, June 5.

As difficult as it is to finish the year apart, St. James is committed to maintaining as much school spirit and community connection as possible, especially with our important end-of-the-year celebrations. We recognize that there is much that our students and families are missing in these remaining weeks of school, and we want to commemorate these moments remotely to keep them special and meaningful. We will share details about these events shortly.

During this challenging time, we are all fortunate to be a part of this wonderful SJA community, and we have certainly supported one another and will continue to do so. We are still hopeful that we can soon reunite safely, and our team is proactive about plans to re-open safely in the fall. We have committees already in place to plan for our Fall 2020 Opening. We welcome feedback and suggestions now to add to our planning.

I am available to talk more by phone or during our virtual parent coffees on Thursdays and Fridays.

Please continue to stay healthy and we look forward to a grand celebration when we all can reunite again. We are together in this.

Sincerely,

Charlotte S. Riggs
Head of School

A Prayer for Our School from Pastor Joe

Gracious and loving God, God of all comfort and peace, we are disappointed that our school must remain closed for this school year.  We are disappointed that we cannot complete our studies in our classrooms and play together on our playgrounds and athletic fields.  We are disappointed that we cannot celebrate the end of the school year as we are accustomed with the rituals and gatherings that help to sustain our school and community.  Yet, in the midst of our disappointment, we know that you love us and that you sustain us through all circumstances in life.  Thank you for the blessing of dedicated teachers and administrators, who work tirelessly for the good of all of our students.  Thank you for the blessing of our school community.  Look with compassion on the St. James Academy family now and as it completes this school year apart from one another.  Even though we are physically apart, keep us deeply connected in spirit and in truth and in love.  And gracious God, teach us to count our blessings every moment of every day, and see you at work in the world around us.  All this we pray in Christ’s name.  Amen.