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St. James Public Schools returns to in-person learning

Sean Ellertson
St. James Plaindealer

On Tuesday, the St. James Public Schools district announced a plan to return to in-person learning starting next Monday.

St. James students in grades k-2 have returned to in-person learning, while grades 6-12 have returned to hybrid learning. Grades 3-5 were projected to return to in-person learning on Feb. 1.

"The School District has been working hard on using our mitigation strategies, as well as our zip code and county numbers are at [an] all-time low since the holiday season," read a letter from Superintendent Dr. Steven Heil to St. James staff and parents. "Therefore, we will be moving all students, all grades, pre-kindergarten to grade 12 to In-Person Learning starting Monday, February 1. This decision was made in consultation with MDH, MDE, and County Health."

The notice listed many key factors to the decision to return to in-person learning:

- From 1/1/21-1/25/21, there have been three cases under 10-years positives ( one family), and one teen not in the district.

- There has been no transmission in the high school for students or staff since the beginning of the school year, and only one in Northside just prior to school starting in November (only 1 in the ES just prior to school starting in September).

- The district will continue to use the hybrid mitigation strategies (movement, classroom placement, etc).

- Zip code and county numbers continue to remain low and when there were upticks, was due to travel.

- Upper grades (mainly 9-12) are getting together more outside of school.  This is resulting in a lot of crossing of cohorts.

- This week the district provided vaccinations to 22% of staff. 

"We look forward to welcoming our students back into our classrooms," concluded the letter. "The reality of staying in-person will come down to all of us doing our part by using the COVID strategies of wearing face coverings, using proper handwashing/sanitizing, and remaining socially distanced. Using these strategies, along with staying home if you feel ill, will help SJPS remain in-person."

The move to in-person learning will be the sixth transition in learning models for the district this school year. Parents will still be given the opportunity to choose if their child/children in the distance learning model.