Hello St. Mary’s School Community,

After listening to parents, teachers, school council members, and staff these past few weeks, the newsletter topic for this weekend became clear. The topic is about service and the need for it. As I stated in my previous letter, the volunteering requirement for families went away, but the need for volunteer service didn’t. There are community members such as parents, grandparents, alumni, and others who support the kind of education and formation we provide, who want to serve the school, but don’t know how and what our needs are. Knowledge leads to action, and so my hope is that by reading this you or someone you know could find and seize the right opportunities.

What follows will be a description of what positions we need, and how families or community members could serve. The first is school committees: Strategic Planning and Policies, Catholic Identity, Development and Fundraising, Facilities, Finance and Budgeting, Marketing, Recruitment and Communications, and last but not least, the Executive Council. These councils need several members each, and nearly all had been put on pause the past year, with no recent activity. The importance of these councils are paramount this year, as we are planning to launch our re-accreditation this year. The success of accreditation stands or falls on the efforts and collaboration of these currently defunct councils. Without their help, the work falls squarely on Mark Salisbury and myself, who are giving all our time and effort as it is to the affairs of the school, besides accreditation.

The second is part-time service roles: Snow-blowing on snow days in the morning before school, trimming of the bushes and gardening work around the campus, being a recess supervisor or lunch aide for an hour or so, helping the teachers with a variety of routine or busy-work tasks (that could be done outside school) so they have more time to design and develop high quality lessons, helping to recruit students, teachers, or staff or volunteers in needed positions yourselves for the school, helping out with the after-school program when they go on the playground or outside.

The third is paid positions, for which we have candidates but in accord with diocesan recommendations we are still accepting applications for an experienced, full-time secretary, 6th grade teacher, and pre-K teacher. The pre-K program is gaining momentum, but we still haven’t hit our quota for launch, which is 10 students. Once we have a letter of intent or contract with parents for 10 students, we can officially give offer letters to candidates and sign contracts with them and start to prepare everything officially. The start date of the pre-K therefore depends on serious interest from a number of families. I will be sending my son Thomas to the pre-K and am excited to help it get underway.

Beyond that, this week we had an unfortunate but temporary closure of K and 1st grade due to COVID exposure, and another case of exposure for a student in another grade. My first priority is that children are safe, but I also want them to return to school as soon as legitimately possible. We acted in accord with health department guidelines and worked closely with them to make sure we kept our school safe from further exposure, to prevent further quarantine.

As in the email from the Department of Health, quarantined students may return to class on Tuesday the 16th on condition of a negative COVID test taken on Monday the 15th. If students are not tested, and show no symptoms, they may return on Friday, the 19th to class. Please contact me or Mrs. Miller for questions about testing locations or for sending proof of negative results if you wish your child to return on Tuesday, otherwise we will see them in school Friday. I am currently looking into testing options that could accelerate the quarantines and reduce the number of days out for students and will update you on any news.

Please keep all those in quarantine in your prayers, and please pray to God for an end to the COVID pandemic.
In Christ,
Tim Vail