St. Peter’s School – Updated COVID-19 policy

Dear St. Peter’s faculty, staff, families, and students,

In my first official email to the St. Peter’s school community, first and foremost, I’d like to thank everyone for the kind welcome I received. I look forward to meeting all of our faculty, staff, families and students in the upcoming weeks. I am very excited about the new school year and all the promise it holds.

I also want to thank everyone who was involved with Augustfest. What a terrific evening, bringing old and new friends together to support and celebrate St. Peter’s School. Seeing the camaraderie, kindness, and energy of the volunteers, alumni, and school families, past and present, underscores the very bright future of St. Peter’s School.

As we begin this new school year, despite everyone’s best hopes, COVID-19 still remains an ongoing concern for our school and the local community. Transmission rates, particularly of the Delta Variant, are high and continue to climb. Working with health professionals and relying on their expertise, St. Peter’s School has created its Restart Smart, COVID-19 Response for this school year. Click here for the plan: https://mansfieldstpeters.org/school/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Restart-Smart-Update-final.pdf

Please read this plan carefully.

The Restart Smart plan is a fluid, layered approach, recognizing our shared community goals of:

  • Keeping our school community safe and healthy,
  • Doing everything possible to ensure in-person learning continues uninterrupted,
  • Limiting classroom exposures that could result in quarantines, and
  • Protecting those most vulnerable in our larger parish community.

In the plan, proactive, preventative measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 increase when the transmission rates for Richland County increase (see chart on page 6). Many of these proactive measures are similar to last year, including distancing, sanitation, ventilation, and face coverings. Most importantly, families are asked to keep their students home from school when they are sick, or any member of their family is sick or exhibiting the symptoms of COVID-19.

Please note that when the spread of COVID-19 is at its highest, all members of our school community will be required to wear masks, despite vaccination status, ONLY when indoors. Because Richland County is currently in the red zone, all school faculty, staff, and students will most likely be required to wear masks while indoors for the start of the school year until local transmission rates drop. We will be assessing local transmission rates regularly and updating protocols accordingly.

I know that this isn’t ideal. I know that everyone is absolutely fatigued with all of the COVID-19 mandates, particularly after a summer with fewer constraints. However, implementing proper distancing and facial coverings, when necessary, will eliminate the need for quarantining even if a positive COVID-19 case arises in our school community, allowing our students to attend school in person uninterrupted.

St. Peter’s will continue to make decisions in real-time, with the best information available from experts, honoring our obligation to not just educate, but to care for, value, and nurture our students. We may find out in a few weeks that we’ve been overly cautious…and that’s ok. I would much rather err on the side of overly protecting our school community, keeping our students in school, and minimizing the risk of having to quarantine students for 7-14 days, than not doing enough.

As a community of faith, with an acknowledged commitment to put others before ourselves, I hope that you can understand the need for this cautious and careful approach. I realize that many local schools have different approaches to this virus. I respect the decisions of schools across the area, state, and country, knowing just how difficult it is to set policies during these uncertain times. However, as I saw at Augustfest this weekend, I know that the St. Peter’s community will work together not only in the best interest of our school, but will also lead the way in keeping our parish, neighbors, friends and families safe. I can guarantee this truth: “Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did for me.” Matthew: 25:40

If you have any questions or concerns about this plan or any other issues, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. Thank you again for your patience, your faith, your trust, and your commitment to ensuring that we all have a safe and healthy school year. Thank you even more for being a part of the St. Peter’s family.

Yours in faith and gratitude,

Laurie McKeon
Head of School
St. Peter’s School