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COVID-19 & Return to School Plans

1 July 2020
Dear STM families,
We hope this letter finds you well and enjoying this unusual summer.  We have been working hard here at school preparing for the upcoming school year and have a lot of great information to share with our wonderful STM community.
Following the feedback from the Office of Catholic Schools and utilizing STM parent survey results, as well as careful review of recommendations from the Center for Disease Control, the Virginia Department of Health and the American Association of Pediatrics, we are writing to provide you with an update of our reopening plans.  This document is to provide families with a framework for their fall planning. The specifics of our plans will continue to develop as we are provided additional guidance by the Diocese; (please refer to Office of Catholic Schools, Superintendent letter, attached.)
Our overarching goal for the upcoming school year is to maximize health and safety while making five day a week in-person instruction on campus available to all students (PreK through 8th Grade), and to have an eLearning model for students opting or needing to remain home.  If local/state/federal guidelines change to prior phases, we will move all students to an eLearning model.
Our efforts to ensure the health and safety of our STM community will begin at home with an STM-provided automated daily health assessment tool.  Morning drop off routines will be adjusted to minimize student contact, and students will be provided required uniform-specific, STM branded, facial coverings along with educational materials on effective use.  All members of our community will adhere to strict social distancing of six feet while on campus with one exception: as approved by Virginia agencies and the American Association of Pediatrics, classroom desks will be spaced three feet apart.  Cleaning, ventilation and drinking water protocols have been developed and will be implemented in conjunction with our facilities staff per CDC recommendations. Daily routines for hand hygiene, disinfecting surfaces, and classroom processes will be codified and reinforced. 
We will also implement schedule adjustments to allow student cohorts to remain together throughout the school day.  Teachers will move into each classroom as necessary for instruction, the cafeteria will not be used for lunch, and school-wide singing practice and assemblies will be suspended.  Students will continue to attend weekly Mass in smaller groups.  For the 2020-2021 school year, book fees will be used to purchase classroom supplies for each student which will be labeled and stored for individual use.  Storage for backpacks, coats, personal effects and lunch boxes will be installed outside of each class. Construction and reconfiguration will provide us with a quarantine space and enlarge available classroom square footage.
In preparation for the start of the school year, we have expanded our handbook and wellness plan, introduced MagnusHealth (an electronic health records system), installed hand and surfacing sanitizing equipment in each classroom and entrance point, and invested in professional development for our faculty and staff.  In recognition of the emotional toll these times are taking on our children, we have expanded the professional training for teachers to include a focus on social/emotional learning which will complement the addition of Gina Menacho, RN, in her new counselling role.  
Additionally, we are working with the Office of Catholic Schools to develop eLearning that mirrors the in-school curriculum content for families who do not feel comfortable having their children return to brick and mortar school at this time.  Specific plans for eLearning, Extended Day, CYO, Choir and enrichment programs will be published and shared with the community as soon as possible.  
We look forward to providing further updates as soon as our Reopening and Mitigation Plan 2020 is formally approved by the Diocese of Arlington. In the meantime, we will hold multiple town halls to address all of your concerns, answer your questions and, most importantly, to reassure you that our number one goal is safely educating your children -- mind, body and soul.

In Christ,

Very Rev. Patrick L. Posey, V.F. Catherine Adams Davis

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St. Thomas More at a Glance

  • 13:1 Student teacher ratio
  • 1st elementary school to design, build, test and launch a CubeSatellite into space in conjunction with a NASA partnership
  • 400 Students Enrolled
  • VectorSmartObject_390776f9-3da4-4f5b-9bf2-8a92f76841b640% of faculty obtained a graduate degree or higher
  • 40% approximate percentage of students who identify themselves as minority, including African-American, Hispanic and Asian.
  • 15% of students in a military family
  • 30% of students receive financial aid
  • Student body is 81% Catholic
  • 45+ 45+ after school enrichment activities, including CYO sports, scouts and clubs
  • Average class size - 19 students