St. John’s Episcopal Parish Day School prepares each of its students for lifelong intellectual and spiritual growth by providing a superior educational experience within a nurturing Christian environment. Situated in Hyde Park and near Downtown Tampa, St. John’s is a co-ed, Episcopal K(4)-8 independent school with a rich 68-year tradition of exceptional academic achievement. Founded in 1951, St. John’s is Tampa’s oldest Episcopal school.

Mobile Trigger

Landing Nav

COVID-19 Information 2021-2022

Dear School Family,

I write to share a brief update following yesterday’s meeting of our COVID-19 task force. 

Families are our first line of defense away from school in the daily battle to prevent community spread in our buildings and widespread quarantining of students. I cannot overstate just how critical your support is to our ongoing efforts in keeping everyone safe and at school. If anyone in your household exhibits any of the following symptoms or if any member of your household has taken a COVID-19 test and is awaiting the result, do not send your child(ten) to school:

  • Any time your child has a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher (without fever reducing medication).
  • If your child has no fever but does have a combination of congestion, coughing, and/or sore throat.
  • If your child has an upset stomach, diarrhea, or vomiting within a 24-hour period, regardless of cause or frequency.

Since last Friday’s email, there has been an increase in school-wide student cases. Based on the circumstances of some of those cases, it has also been necessary for other students to quarantine. At yesterday’s meeting, the members of the task force reviewed school and local pediatric COVID-19 data and unanimously agreed that the face covering mandate remain in place for at least one more week. We will continue to revisit the face covering mandate at each meeting. 

School leadership remains most concerned about the overall well being - physical, social, emotional, and educational - of our students. We encourage all parents to participate in the upcoming parent enrichment event on September 30th. A panel of education experts and child psychologists will share their thoughts, answer questions, and provide guidance for parents wanting to support their children’s emotional and mental health. More details about this event will be communicated soon.

I will update the community on any new developments resulting from the next meeting of the task force. As always, any time you have a question about your child’s experience at St. John’s, COVID-19 related or other, please reach out to us so we can do our best to help. Have a wonderful long weekend. 

Hugh Jebson
Head of School

Read More about September 3 Covid-19 Task Force Update

Dear School Family,

I write to share additional information following yesterday’s meeting of our COVID-19 task force. First and foremost, we continue to be successful in our management and mitigation strategies. Since last Friday’s email, we have been made aware of two additional cases among our students, for a school-wide total of three positive cases since the beginning of the school year. Additionally, four students are at present quarantining. As far as we can ascertain, all were exposed away from school.

We are doing everything we can to protect your children’s wellbeing - physical, emotional, and educational. Families are our first line of defense away from school in the daily battle to prevent community spread in our buildings and any subsequent need for potentially widespread quarantining of students. I cannot overstate just how critical your support is to our ongoing efforts, and how much we need your continued vigilance when your children are not at school. The presence of an exposed or infectious child at school significantly increases the risk of other members of the school community becoming infected, having to be quarantined, or worse.

Below are ten questions posed by members of our school community and discussed by the task force yesterday. We hope the answers are helpful as together we continue to navigate this challenging situation. There is a lot of information provided; families should always feel welcome to consult the school for further guidance or instructions. 

Q. It’s not always practical or feasible to keep my child home from school any time they have symptoms of illness. Can the school provide any specific guidelines to help me determine whether my child should stay home or come to school?

A. We fully understand the challenges associated with children having to be cared for at home rather than at school and empathize with parents any time they face this prospect. Accordingly, we hope the following is helpful: 

  • Any time your child has a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher (without fever reducing medication), they should not come to school. 

  • If your child has no fever but does have a combination of congestion, coughing, and/or sore throat, they should not come to school.

  • If your child has diarrhea or vomiting within a 24-hour period, regardless of cause or frequency, they should not come to school.

Other than the above, a child can come to school. Whenever possible, however, families should err on the side of caution any time a member of the household is feeling unwell and not send their child to school. Any time a child is kept home, the respective division office should be immediately contacted for further instructions.

Q. What circumstances dictate whether my child must quarantine?

A. Every situation is unique thereby making immediate communication with the school nurse imperative. In general:

  • A student who stays home due to symptoms noted in question #1 should not attend school or any school-sponsored activities until the student receives a ‘Negative’ diagnostic PCR test result after testing is conducted on/after day 3 of symptoms.

  • A student who has received a positive diagnostic PCR test for COVID-19 should not attend school or any school-sponsored activities until ten days have passed since the onset of symptoms or positive PCR test result, the student has had no fever for 24 hours (without fever-reducing medication) and the other symptoms are improving.

  • A student who is masked while indoors and exposed to COVID-19 and who remains asymptomatic does not have to quarantine.

  • A student who is not masked while outdoors and exposed to COVID-19 may have to quarantine depending on the circumstances.

  • If any member of the family is ill and/or getting tested for COVID-19, all St. John’s students in that family must stay home until the individual concerned receives a negative PCR test result or provides the school a doctor’s note affirming they can return to school. 

Q. My child was exposed to COVID-19 away from school. What should we do?

A. A student who is exposed outside of school must immediately quarantine for 7 days. He or she can complete a PCR test on day 4 or 5 of the quarantine and return to school if the PCR result is ‘Negative.’

Note: St. John’s does not accept the results of in-home COVID-19 testing when determining whether quarantine is required or the appropriate date for return to school.

Q. My child has been fully vaccinated. Does he or she need to be quarantined if exposed in or outside of school?

A. If a fully vaccinated student (2 weeks post second dose) who is asymptomatic provides proof of vaccination to the school nurse, he or she is not required to quarantine. They should still be masked for 10 days post exposure. If families are uncomfortable providing this documentation, the student must quarantine, regardless of vaccination status. Fully vaccinated students who are symptomatic must quarantine.

Q. My child received a positive diagnostic PCR test for COVID-19 in the previous 90 days and has been in direct contact with someone who has received a positive diagnostic PCR test for COVID-19. Does he or she need to quarantine?

A. A student who has received a positive diagnostic PCR test for COVID-19 in the previous 90 days and who is in direct contact with an individual who has received a positive diagnostic PCR test for COVID-19 is not required to quarantine so long as they remain asymptomatic. They should still be masked for 10 days post exposure.

Q. My child has been fully vaccinated. Why does he or she have to wear a face covering?

A. Fully vaccinated students can still transmit and shed the virus and potentially put others at risk. Therefore, at this time fully vaccinated students are required to wear a face covering.

Q. What is St. John’s position on medical exemptions for face coverings?

A. We are not offering medical exemptions for face coverings. According to information provided by medical experts, a true medical exemption is extremely rare and not likely to be encountered in most school settings as it would include children with severe developmental delays and special needs. We are not aware of any St. John’s student who meets these criteria. 

Q. How long will the universal requirement for face coverings remain in place?

A. At yesterday’s meeting, the task force unanimously agreed that the requirement should remain in place for at least the next week. We will revisit this question next Thursday.

Q. What criteria will the school use to determine the appropriate time for face coverings to be less than universally required? 

A. At a minimum, we will be looking for a downward trend in positive cases in Hillsborough County, as well as continued encouraging data from the school that shows we are not experiencing community spread in our buildings.

Q. Is the school planning anything specific to support the mental and emotional wellbeing of the children? 

A. Our priority remains caring for the ‘whole child.’ We are working in partnership with our Parents’ Club to host an upcoming parent enrichment session that focuses on supporting students’ mental and emotional wellbeing. The event will feature a panel of experts in children’s health, development, and education. Details will be shared with the school community once finalized. 

I will update the community next Friday on any new developments resulting from the next meeting of the task force. I again want to thank each of the members for their time, expertise, and dedication as we care for our school community. Thank you, again, for your continued support and understanding as we provide for and protect each child. As always, any time you have a concern about your child’s experience at St. John’s, COVID-19 related or other, please reach out to us so we can do our best to help. Have a blessed weekend. 

Sincerely,

Hugh Jebson
Head of School

Read More about August 27 Covid-19 Task Force Update

Dear School Family,

I am emailing you today with a few updates following yesterday’s meeting of our Covid-19 Task Force.

Most importantly, the children are happy to be back at school and with their teachers and friends! We believe this is in part due to the fact that they are enjoying stability brought about by operating according to pre-covid routines. One of the many lessons we learned last year was that pandemic-driven changes to the structure and organization of the school day (‘floating,’ restrictions on movement and socializing, etc.) resulted in additional stress and anxiety for our students and teachers. By returning to a more “normal” school schedule, we have been able to dramatically reduce that stress. 

We are working with individual families whose children are expressing increased anxiety and duress centered not on wearing a face covering, per se, but the manifestation of generalized fear of them or a loved one contracting the virus and possibly dying. We are currently looking into what more we can do to support the mental health of any child who is experiencing emotional or mental challenges caused by the pandemic. Any parent concerned about their child should reach out to their respective division director, Sharon Weaver, or Amy Patenaude for further assistance. 

I have spent great time observing each of our three campuses. The children are predominately wearing face coverings while in classrooms, and have adapted remarkably well. This amounts to around 4-5 hours a day as they are not required during lunch, recess, PE, or any other outdoor time. Ten days have passed since the return of students; we are aware of one (1) student testing positive for Covid-19 since then. A small number of students are currently at home in quarantine due to exposure; most, if not all, are the result of exposure away from school. Additionally, 92% of our teachers and classroom assistants are fully vaccinated. This data is very encouraging, and supports our continuation of running a “normal” school day with face coverings indoors to mitigate any chance of community spread at St. John’s while the overall infection rate in the external community remains so high.

In addition to safeguarding the wellbeing of our students and employees, we remain committed to doing everything we can to preserve in-person learning. Another lesson we learned last year was the detrimental effects of quarantine on children's social, emotional, and intellectual wellbeing and development. Our policy that allows children who are exposed at school while wearing a face covering and remain asymptomatic to NOT quarantine is so far proving to be very successful. 

One emergent concern is the possibility of quarantining teachers who test positive or are exposed. We have had three employees test positive for Covid-19 since the start of school. For this reason, all employees are now wearing face coverings while indoors and around the children, regardless of vaccination status. Classroom teachers are able to lower their face coverings to teach when they are suitably distanced from the children. 

The members of the task force share a strong desire to return to an approach in which face coverings are “strongly encouraged” rather than universally mandated. There is unanimous agreement among the task force that we have not yet reached that point. We will meet again next Thursday (and weekly thereafter) to review the situation and to keep our school community informed. We are hopeful that the data for our students and employees continues to be so promising, and the general positivity rate in the area trends downwards. I again want to thank the members of the task force for their time. Click here to review the task force membership and description. 

In closing, I am thankful for your support as we continue to ‘safely sail the ship through the storm.’ I hope you take great pride in the fact that you are part of a school that continues to lead and stay ahead of the curve. As you may be aware, our peer independent schools and all Hillsborough County Public Schools have followed our lead and are now requiring face coverings for K-8 children, if not all. As St. John’s leads, others follow. We will continue to do so in a calm, level-headed manner and strive to do what is best for our community. We will get through this to emerge even stronger.  

Have a blessed weekend and thank you, again, for sharing your wonderful children with us. They bring joy to our work, and I could not be more proud of them or my colleagues. 

Hugh Jebson
Head of School

Read More about August 20 Covid-19 Task Force Update

2020-2021: How the St. John's Community Achieved Success During a Pandemic

WE PLANNED CAREFULLY AND MOVED SWIFTLY. Because we have a culture of continuous improvement, we were preparing before it became apparent that schools would need to close. We quickly formed a COVID-19 Task Force that included physicians, faculty, administration, and parents. We designed a detailed Safe Entry Plan to ensure we could provide in-person learning when the next school year began. 

WE EXERCISED AUTONOMY AND INDEPENDENCE. Our school size, culture, and the support of our engaged parent community allowed us to make decisions in the children’s best interests—without political considerations or bureaucracy. We believe children’s academic, social, and emotional wellbeing are best served when they are in school. We opened the 2020-2021 school year with a comprehensive approach that offered families:

  • A choice to learn on campus or participate in class live from home
  • Counseling to help each family make the best choice for their child

Most families chose to return to in-person teaching, trusting that we had their children’s best interest in mind. And by the end of the school year, all but a few had returned to class.

WE COMMUNICATED TRANSPARENTLY. Ongoing, timely, and detailed communication assured our school families and neighbors that we were responsible and responsive members of the Tampa community. Throughout the pandemic, we have regularly communicated our approach, its results, and the safety measures we are taking.

WE INVESTED IN EDUCATIONAL CONTINUITY AND COMMUNITY HEALTH. We went above and beyond to safeguard students and employees, and to protect the integrity of the educational experience—which is why we were able to open—and remain open the entire year. We partnered with Tampa General Hospital on COVID-19 testing and worked closely with health agencies on contact tracing and quarantine procedures. We monitored CDC guidelines for schools and adapted, as necessary. We added a nurse practitioner with extensive experience in infectious diseases and invested heavily in resources to promote learning—in the classroom and the living room—such as:

  • Virus-mitigating resources, like HVAC system air filtration, air purifiers for every classroom, and sneeze guards on every desk.
  • Educational resources, like software and training to help teachers engage remote students, the PikMyKid app to improve the efficiency and safety of carline, iPads for every student and teacher, and ClearTouch® interactive displays.

WE SAW A CRISIS AS AN OPPORTUNITY. We embrace any opportunity to adapt, innovate, and evolve in ways that see our school emerge even stronger. We adapted our teaching methods almost overnight, and—with our parents' support— invested in innovative technology that allowed us to further “throttle up” each child’s educational experience.

Everyone in the St. John’s community—parents, supporters, faculty, staff, administration—stood shoulder to shoulder to ensure that St. John’s could continue to shape the lives and futures of the children entrusted to our care.

It was a challenge unlike any we’ve faced in our lifetimes—and we faced it together, successfully.

Follow #sjetogether on Facebook.  Follow #sjetogether on Instagram.