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.

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COVID-19 Information 2021-2022

As we approach the end of the second week of school post-holiday, we have experienced a modest increase in positive cases among students, as well as exposure away from school. Based on our experience so far, we are making the following modification to our policy, effective immediately:

  • Any student who is directly exposed to a positive case of COVID-19 by someone in their immediate household must - regardless of vaccination status - stay away from school for five days from the date of exposure and can return on the sixth day. Upon return, they should wear a face covering for days 6-10. 
     
  • Effective January 17, visitors are no longer required to wear a face covering on campus if vaccinated.
Read More about January 13 Update

Dear School Family,

I hope this letter finds you well and enjoying the holidays! The purpose of this communication is to update you on our plans for the children returning to school on January 4. From the start, our goal has been keeping the school community as safe as circumstances allow, while also keeping school open, preserving ‘in-person’ learning, and providing ‘distance learning’ to quarantined students. Since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, we have effectively responded to a total of around three dozen confirmed cases among students and employees. Thankfully, none of those cases has involved serious complications and the infected recovered quickly and fully. Furthermore, vaccination is now widely available; 95% of our employees are fully vaccinated, as are a significant number of our students.

We continue to learn a great deal about running a school during a pandemic. As the pandemic evolves, so must our response. For some children, the wearing of a face covering presents significant challenges, while other children appear to manage without issue. What is true is that the universal, mandated wearing of face coverings creates an entirely different dynamic at school. The last confirmed case of COVID-19 among students or employees before Christmas break was in early-September. Since then, St. John’s transitioned to a policy of face coverings ‘recommended but not universally required.’

We will continue with face coverings ‘recommended but not universally required’ for students and employees on January 4 with the following temporary modification: for the month of January, all lower and middle division students will be required to wear a face covering for any large indoor gathering. The most obvious examples of this requirement are lower and middle division chapels. They will not be required while eating in the lunchroom. Additionally, for the month of January, all visitors to our buildings will be required to wear a face covering, regardless of vaccination status. We have also made some important updates to our protocols for responding to positive cases and quarantine following direct exposure. These can be found HERE.

All COVID-19 policies remain under constant review and subject to change. Given the nature of the holidays (family gatherings and travel) and out-of-school activities and behaviors, it should be expected we will experience positive cases in January. Your children’s teachers are well-practiced and highly effective at providing ‘distance learning’ to any quarantined student or students and remain ready to do so. Perhaps the most important lesson we have learned so far is that the single most significant factor impacting potential spread and widespread disruption to in-person learning is the decision parents make about sending or not sending their child to school when the child or any member of the immediate household is feeling unwell and symptomatic. As we return from the Christmas break, your diligence and support remain as essential as ever.

We look forward to seeing your children back at school on January 4, and to the continuation of a highly successful school year. 

Best,

Hugh Jebson

Head of School

Read More about December 29 Update

Dear School Family,

Following yesterday’s meeting of the Task Force, I write to update you on our COVID-19 protocols and policies. We end this week - the sixth in a row - with no new confirmed cases of infection among our students and employees. As you may be aware, additional data for the area shows a steep and continuing decline in confirmed cases, as well as the infection rate. Moreover, there are reports the vaccine for children ages 5-11 will become available in the near future. 

Based on the above, we are modifying our face coverings policy, effective Monday, November 8th, at which time they will become ‘recommended but no longer required’ for students and employees, as well as parents who visit our campuses at any time. This means that students need only bring a face covering to school if they want to wear oneWe will maintain a stock of face coverings on each campus for any student who wishes to wear one but who forgets to bring it or misplaces it. At some point after the vaccine becomes available for children ages 5-11, our face coverings policy will transition to ‘Optional.’

Between now and November 8, should a family elect to have their child(ren) remove their face covering when seated at their desks, they must complete and return this form to their child’s respective division director(s). The form will no longer be necessary after November 8.

Our policy regarding quarantine will remain in place for the foreseeable future. Namely:

  • A student or employee who tests positive should stay home for 10 days following the positive viral test for COVID-19.  
  • A student or employee who is directly exposed while wearing a face covering will not need to quarantine if they remain asymptomatic.
  • A student who is directly exposed while not wearing a face covering may be required to be quarantined for 10 days from the date of exposure, depending on the circumstances. That same individual can take a PCR test on day five and return to school on day seven if the result is Negative. 
  • A vaccinated individual who is directly exposed does not need to quarantine if they remain asymptomatic. It is recommended they take a PCR test five days post-exposure.
  • If any member of a household tests positive, the student or employee must quarantine for 10 days from the date of exposure. If the individual is vaccinated, he or she does not need to be quarantined if they remain asymptomatic.

As we consider how best to keep our community well and maintain in-person learning moving forward, we remind everyone that the single biggest factor influencing the risk of community spread of any infectious disease is parent decision-making when a child or family member is or may be ill. Parents must keep their children away from school anytime they or anyone in their household exhibits any of the following symptoms or if any member of the household has taken a COVID-19 PCR test and is awaiting the result:

  • 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.

As an additional reminder, our position regarding COVID-19 vaccination - including when a vaccine becomes available for children ages 5-11 and for the foreseeable future - is that it is not required as a condition of enrollment at St. John’s at this time. It is important to note that COVID-19 vaccination may at some point be added to the Florida Department of Health list of those currently required for children entering, attending, or transferring to Florida public and non-public schools. We have partnered with Tampa General Hospital to facilitate on-site COVID-19 vaccinations (at school) for interested families and will communicate more information in due course. 

While hopeful the tide has turned once and for all in the fight against the pandemic, we remain prepared to adapt to any circumstances, including the possibility of managing further individual cases should they arise. As such, we do not anticipate the Task Force needing to continue to meet for the foreseeable future. School leadership will continue to monitor the situation, as always, and will reconvene the Task Force should the need arise. On behalf of the entire school community, I want to express my deep thanks and gratitude to the Task Force members for their time and dedication:

  • Dr. Tracy Burton - Board Certified Pediatrician and Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and St. John’s parent
  • Mrs. Lauren M. Smith, ARPN - Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and St. John’s parent
  • Ms. Sharon Weaver, ARPN - Nurse Practitioner and St. John's School Nurse
  • Mrs. Amy Patenaude - Licensed School Psychologist and St. John’s parent
  • Dr. John Marston - Board Certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, former St. John’s parent and trustee
  • Mrs. Lisa Strauch, Mr. Michael Salzer, and Mrs. Ana Ibanez - Division Directors and experts in childhood education and development. Mr. Salzer and Mrs. Ibanez are also current St. John’s parents.
  • Mrs. Jenny Spencer - President of the St. John's Parents' Association and St. John's parent
  • Mr. Eric Williams - Chair of the Board of Trustees
  • Mr. Hugh Jebson - Head of School

Have a blessed weekend and thank you for sharing your wonderful children with us.

Best,

Hugh Jebson

Head of School

Read More about October 29 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.

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