February 1, 2021
“I was blessed to experience Catholic education in my youth, and I want to extend that same blessing to all the children of our diocese.”
–Most Rev. John T. Folda, Bishop of Fargo
Happy Catholic Schools Week to all our students, parents, and staff members! Thank you for choosing the blessing of Catholic education in St. John Paul II Catholic Schools.
We are grateful for the progress of our students in spite of all the challenges since March 15, 2020. Thanks to our dedicated staff and supportive parents for aiding that accomplishment in bestowing the blessings of Catholic education on our students.
Catholic Schools Week is a perfect time both to recap and preview a number of items for your awareness.
- Last week the Board of Directors of St. John Paul II Catholic Schools unanimously passed this motion: “Bishop Folda and the Board of Directors support the response of the school administration during the challenges of this school year and endorse the return of Shanley High School to a four day week of in-person learning at this time.”
- We continue to monitor school and community conditions through our Health and Safety Plan and in consultation with our advisors.
- School day mask wearing, social distancing, and sanitizing continue to be some of the most effective means we have according to the CDC. We continue to have positive cases among students and staff in the new year, so continued vigilance to prevent further transmission with the protocols is crucial.
- As consistent throughout the school year, you will be notified if your student is a close contact and given the related quarantine protocols. Remember, the quarantine period has been reduced to ten days. For Little Deacons-8th grade, the entire classroom cohort is out due to close proximity, mask breaks, and cumulative length of time spent together. For high school students, close contacts will be identified and notified regarding quarantine.
- Outside the school day activities are conducted under different guidelines which come from consultation with activities associations and activities directors. Mr. Breker provides these updates.
- We now have access to rapid testing for our staff and also are coordinating staff vaccination sign-ups for those staff members who seek the vaccine.
- Since January 28, Shanley students are now in three different learning scenarios for third quarter. Four days in person (75 % of students); two days modified in-person (17 % of students); and e-learning (8 % of students). Wednesday remains an essential on-line learning day for all students for new work, small group/one-on-one tutoring, meetings, make-up work, grading, research, study, etc. We will monitor and survey before the potential transition to five days in person for Shanley in 4th
- Providentially, our calendar affords a number of well-spaced breaks this semester: February 19, March 12-15, April 2-5, and April 30. (We learned the importance of those for staff well-being last semester.) The last day of school and Shanley graduation will be Wednesday, May 26.
- As we move into the spring, school activities, traditions, and events will be observed as best as conditions permit.
Our annual Catholic Schools Week Mass will be held this Thursday, February 4 at 9:30 am. Due to COVID protocols, Shanley seniors and Sullivan 8th graders will be attending in person this year with Bishop Folda presiding and local pastors concelebrating. The Mass will be live-streamed on Shanley TV: www.shanleytv.com.
February 11 is the annual World Day of Prayer for the Sick, instituted by St. John Paul II in 1992. We are acutely aware of many who are sick and in need of prayers. Next Thursday the 11th will be an opportunity for “a special time of prayers and sharing, of offering one’s suffering for the good of the Church and of reminding us to see in our sick brothers and sisters the face of Christ Who, by suffering, dying, and rising, achieved the salvation of humankind” as St. John Paul II advised.
With that intention in mind, we close with this appeal: Our Lady of Lourdes: “Pray for us.”
Have a blessed Catholic Schools Week everyone!
Mike Hagstrom Mary Beth Traynor
President Vice President
January 15, 2021
Dear JPII Schools Community:
Happy New Year! We are grateful to be two weeks into the second half of the year. Thank you for your patience and perseverance throughout 2020. We look forward to 2021 with faith, hope, and joy!
We want to update you on the current information in our schools:
- Little Deacons – grade 8 will continue the same in-person learning schedule and health and safety protocols.
- Starting on Thursday, January 28, there will be an option for Shanley students to return to in-person learning four days per week. The Shanley staff is working on plans to offer three options for student learning: (you will receive a survey on Monday to indicate your choice)
- In-person learning four days a week – M,T,TH,F (At this time, Wednesday remains essential as an online learning day for Shanley students and staff)
- Continue current Hybrid schedule – M, TH or T, F
- Parents of Shanley students will receive more details regarding the plans throughout next week.
- The date of the return for Shanley students was based on two factors:
- Monitoring COVID-19 cases post-Christmas break.
- Planning time for Shanley staff to prepare for the three learning options.
- Thursday, January 28th is the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Patron Saint of Students. It is a perfect day for our Shanley students to be back together.
We remain committed to accomplishing our mission through the ideal of in-person learning. The JPII Health and Safety Plan continues to be our guide, and we thank you for your support and adherence to the established protocols.
Catholic Schools Week is January 31-February 6 and will be a great opportunity to celebrate the good work of our schools. See your school newsletter and website for Catholic Schools Week events.
In conclusion, we ask for the prayers of St. Thomas Aquinas for all of our students. St. Thomas Aquinas: “Pray for us.”
Mike Hagstrom Mary Beth Traynor
President Vice President
December 8, 2020
Dear JPII Catholic Schools Parents:
With the recent release of the Center for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) acceptable quarantine options, JPII Catholic Schools has updated the Health and Safety Plan.
The CDC still states that a quarantine period of 14 days is the most effective strategy in fighting the transmission of COVID-19. That recommendation is based on estimates of the upper bounds of the COVID-19 incubation period of 14 days. Quarantine is intended to reduce the risk that infected persons might unknowingly transmit infection to others. It also ensures that persons who become symptomatic or are diagnosed during quarantine can rapidly seek the necessary medical care.
While a 14 day quarantine period seems to be most effective, the CDC recognizes that it puts “personal burdens” that affect and individual’s physical and mental health and cause economic hardships to those that are required to comply. The CDC notes that reducing the quarantine period will help to reduce the various burdens associated with a 14 day quarantine and may also increase community compliance.
JPII Catholic Schools is changing the quarantine period to 10 days effective immediately. When there is a positive case involving a student in grades LD through 8, the entire classroom needs to quarantine for the 10 days. You will be notified if your child is a close contact and you will receive a letter from the Health Department. In the letter it will show three different dates. JPII has adopted the 10 day quarantine option; however, you can choose the 14 day quarantine for your child if you feel more comfortable. Please note that due to the time students spend together in class, including mask breaks and lunch, a 10 day quarantine is necessary.
We appreciate your honesty and adherence to the Health and Safety guidelines. Truly, that has been an important factor for the success of our schools so far this year. Please see the information attached to this email regarding testing sites in the area and the JPII Health Screening and Safety Guidelines.
Working together we are #deaconstrong.
November 17, 2020
Dear JPII Catholic Schools Parents:
Thank you for your patience and perseverance as we face all the challenges of this school year together.
We are grateful for the students’ cooperation and flexibility as they progress in learning this year. Also, we are grateful for the heroic efforts of our teachers. With the intensity of those efforts, we have discerned the need for a “Recharge Day” for our teachers.
As a result, there will be no classes on Wednesday, November 25 in all of our schools (Little Deacons will be open).
Rather, it will be a much-needed opportunity for our teachers to “recharge” by catching up on class work, planning for the coming weeks, and making preparations for the season of Advent.
This should make the Thanksgiving vacation truly a time of rest and rejuvenation for our teachers. We hope that by announcing this today you will be able to make alternative plans; your flexibility and understanding will be a way to support our teachers. As we said last week in our update, staffing will be the key to keeping our schools in-person learning. We believe our teachers do need this break in order to be refreshed for the final weeks of school before Christmas vacation.
We wish you and your family a blessed Thanksgiving vacation, November 25-29. Together we are #deaconstrong
November 13, 2020
Dear JPII Community:
We want to update our staff and families throughout the JPII Catholic Schools system with current COVID-19 information.
To date, we have only experienced a few positive COVID-19 cases in our students and staff populations. Having said that, when there is a positive case involving a student in grades LD through 8, the entire classroom needs to quarantine for the required time set by the state health department. This may be overly conservative given the fact that the students are wearing masks and are set up in cohort groups, but the cumulative time they spend together in a day, including mask breaks and lunch, warrants this approach. As we have consistently done all year, you will be notified if your child was a close contact.
Another key consideration is maintaining our staffing throughout these adverse conditions. We continue to increase our substitute teacher contact lists. There may be times when teachers are teaching remotely. We appreciate your understanding and flexibility in those times. Again, we continue to be vigilant in both accomplishing our mission and doing so safely.
We continue to follow the JPII Health and Safety Plan, and it is working. Wearing masks has been overall effective in keeping our positive cases down. Our positive student case count for the entire year (twelve weeks in) is 2.6%. As cases continue to rise in Cass County, we may have more classes that have to be quarantined; however, that does not signify a cause for panic. We will continue to monitor the conditions of each school and will update the JPII community on a regular basis. We remain committed to accomplishing our mission through the ideal of in-person learning and would only close our schools if safety conditions require or if mandated by officials.
Please see the information attached to this email regarding testing sites in the area, guidelines on how to manage COVID-19 symptoms at home, and the JPII Health Screening and Safety Guidelines. We believe the most effective strategy has been students staying home when exhibiting potential COVID-19 symptoms. Thank you, parents, for your support and sacrifices to keep our schools safe and open. Working together we are #deaconstrong.
October 30, 2020
Dear JPII Community:
As we approach November, we continue to reflect on our call to protect, defend, assist, and cherish those who are most vulnerable. In the current COVID climate, it is easy to feel down and somewhat hopeless ourselves. But in God we put our trust and together we recite today’s Psalm (111) “How great are the works of the Lord!”
Today we send you our updated JPII Health and Safety Plan. JPII Catholic Schools will continue in the Modified Learning Model as community conditions warrant these safety measures. The changes made to our plan are highlighted in yellow and reflect how we are currently operating overall as a system. Please note the slight change to E-school Learning; we will only move to E-school Learning if directed by authorities (Governor mandate) or the need to close a specific building because internal conditions deem it necessary.
We want to thank all students, staff, and parents for responding to our recent survey. This information is key in adjusting our plans to meet stakeholder needs. In-person learning continues to be the overwhelming theme in all stakeholder groups. Again, we want to assure you that our intent is to be in-school learning at all levels. Currently, Shanley High School will remain in the hybrid model and we will reassess the week of November 16.
Earlier this Fall the USDA announced that all students will receive free lunches until the end of 2020. Recently the Trump Administration extended the free student meals for the entire school year. This is great news and will ensure all students have access to nutritious meals.
Again, thank you for your cooperation in following the protocols outlined in our JPII Health and Safety Plan. We are leaders in the community in our approach to student learning during COVID times. Together we can continue to fulfill our School mission “to inspire excellence by teaching the total person and fostering the following of Christ, as taught by the Catholic Church.” Together we are #deaconstrong.
October 15, 2020
With the recent news that Cass County has been placed at the “high-risk” designation, more urgent changes need to be made to ensure our students remain in the classroom as much as possible.
Starting at 5:00pm on Friday, Oct 16th, Shanley, along with other local schools, will be limiting home contests to participants only. Participants include students engaged in the activity, team managers, coaches, event staff, and a small amount of media required to stream or broadcast the event. No fans will be allowed at contests.
As much as possible, HOME contests of all levels will be covered in one of three ways: 1) streamed by ShanleyTV with announcers, 2) streamed by ShanleyTV with video only, or 3) recorded and uploaded to ShanleyTV the day after the event for archival viewing. There may be some events which will not be able to be streamed or recorded. For information on ShanleyTV, please visit www.shanleytv.com. Other schools are making efforts to stream or televise their home events as well. Please look for communications from coaches regarding those opportunities.
We realize this may be difficult for students and families. This step is critical to doing the best we can to keep our school system and the community at-large healthy, as well as fulfilling our community goals. We appreciate your flexibility and willingness to help with these matters.
Michael Breker, Director of Activities
September 29, 2020
Dear JPII Community:
Today in the Church we celebrate the Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael the Archangels. Sent from God, these powerful messengers bring promises of love and of hope. We continue to live with hope, not fear as we evaluate and adjust to the conditions of COVID-19.
On Tuesday, September 15 we made the decision to shift to Modified In-School Learning with the understanding that we would re-evaluate every two weeks. This decision was based on conditions within our schools as well as local increases in COVID-19 transmission.
As we monitor both school and local conditions, we have decided to continue Modified In-School Learning through the end of the first quarter on Wednesday, October 21. We will reassess our learning status the week of October 19.
We are grateful that our students have been able to continue their learning in the best way possible given the circumstances. Thank you to the students, parents, and staff for your efforts to ensure the best possible learning environment.
We are #deaconstrong.
September 15, 2020
Our Lady Sorrows
Dear JPII Community:
“Be Not Afraid!” This is our motto for the 2020-21 school year. It was a great theme of our patron St. John Paul II, and it is the message of Christ. Let that wisdom be our guide. With that confidence, we need not be afraid to pursue educating the whole person mind, body, and spirit this school year.
Our schools have been in session for 13 days and we are doing all we can to fulfill our mission while protecting the health and safety of our community. It is impressive to see students, staff, and parents responding so well to the new protocols. Thank you for your flexibility, support, and understanding.
As transmission of COVID-19 increases locally, we continue to evaluate our schools’ Health and Safety Plans. In doing so, we believe it is prudent and advantageous at this time to shift to Modified In-School Learning for the two week period starting Monday, September 21 through Friday, October 2 at which time we will re-evaluate.
If you are a Shanley High School parent or student, you will be hearing more details about the transition to Modified In-School Learning by the end of the day today. Elementary and middle school students will continue with in-school learning. The cohort groupings have been very effective and other procedures have been adjusted to provide the necessary safety for students and staff. Thank you for your cooperation in these endeavors.
We continue to consult with our medical advisors and public health officials regarding issues and questions related to our Health and Safety Plan. One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to conduct the daily health check with your child and keep them home if they are ill.
Remember to contact Dawn Storandt, our COVID point person, if you have any questions. Dawn’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org or call 701-205-7082. She does prefer email. As stated in our Health and Safety Plan, official notification and contract tracing are conducted by public health officials.
Thank you again for your patience and understanding. #deaconstrong
August 25, 2020
Dear JPII Parents and Guardians:
Greetings! We are excited to be starting school in less than 48 hours and we hope your family is as well. The first few days will be new learning for all followed by the new routine for school.
Here is the Daily Symptom Check that provides guidance on how to assess your child(ren) before they come to school. It is important to complete this everyday before school and follow the guidelines for what to do if symptoms are present. Please keep your child(ren) home if they are sick. Adherence to these protocols will be key in our goal to provide in school learning throughout this school year. In addition to symptoms, this document contains the protocols for a positive COVID-19 test as well as close contacts of a positive test.
If your child(ren) will not be in school, please contact the school administrative assistant and the JPII COVID-19 Point Person regarding symptoms, positive COVID-19 test, or close contacts. The JPII Point Person is Dawn Storandt and she can be reached by email email@example.com or by phone at 701-205-7082. Dawn is working with the Field Epidemiologist assigned to our schools.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
August 25, 2020
Department of Health Return to School Frequently Asked Questions
July 30, 2020
“If you seek an example of patience, none more excellent than the cross will be found.” –St. Thomas Aquinas
“Love is patient.” –1 Cor. 13:4
Dear Parents of St. John Paul II Catholic Schools,
This is an email of high importance in order to give you updates on our back-to-school plans, which were approved yesterday by our Board of Directors. At this time, we plan to begin the year with in-school learning.
With these plans, we seek to strike a balance between safeguarding health (in all its dimensions: physical, mental, social, emotional, spiritual) and the best means of accomplishing our mission of providing Catholic education in this time of COVID-19. That will require applying the principles of the common good, solidarity, charity, right reason, and sacrifice—all rooted in our Catholic faith. There are a variety of opinions—some diametrically opposed—within our school community about how to accomplish our mission in this time. We must continue to pray for the wisdom to discern the best possible path forward and for the courage to follow it.
With this email update, we also ask for your patience and cooperation as we work to implement the guidelines, complete the plan details for each building, and prepare together as best we can for this new school year, which is beginning unlike any other. The plans lay out a process for doing that as a system and in each school building. There will be heightened responsibilities on your part as parents, and working with the principal(s) and teacher(s) of your student(s) will be crucial.
1. First day of School-Delayed to Thursday, August 27
Due to the need for extra time for staff training and preparation (health and safety plans, teaching and learning plans, new technology integration, school environment preparation, etc.) for this unique school year, the Board of Directors has approved a two-day delay for our first day of school. The original Tuesday, August 25 start date for classes will be moved to Thursday, August 27 for all students (Little Deacons-Grade 12). There would be no students in school August 25 and 26. The state class minute requirements for those days can be covered through our daily schedule for the year. With weather cancellations of in-school learning, we can pivot to e-school learning days. The built-in storm days can remain in our calendar as vacation days. We also see merit in having just two days of school that first week followed by a weekend in order to make needed adjustments. Then we would have a five day week followed by the Labor Day long weekend. These changes will better enable us to prepare for and begin the school year.
2. Health and Safety Plan and Teaching and Learning Plan (attached)
On July 14, Governor Burgum directed that back to school Health and Safety Plans and Distance Learning Plans needed to be developed in broad consultation for each school district, approved by the board, and shared with the school community.
Broad consultation for this process included surveys of parents, students, and staff members last spring and also earlier this month; review of planning guidelines from state education and health agencies, the Diocese of Fargo, and Catholic education experts; Catholic school principals of the Diocese of Fargo; JPII Catholic Schools Principals and Administrative Team; Essentia Health officials; parent medical professionals; and our advisory council leadership.
Yesterday, our Board of Directors completed its review, vetting, and approval of the plans. We are now sharing them with you. We also will be posting the plans on our website.
We envision three scenarios for learning: in-school learning, modified in-school learning, and e-school learning. Please note that some of our families may choose e-school learning from the start for medical or personal reasons. We are committed to providing a Catholic education for all our families and have designed the plans accordingly. New technology investments and training for our staff will better enable us to keep that commitment.
The resulting plans are our general template for St. John Paul II Catholic Schools. Each of our five schools will be developing building-specific details for application of the plan through a principal-led team of staff. The yellow highlighted areas of the plan are those which need further building-specific details. The gray highlighted areas are those to be determined.
Since information and recommendations about COVID-19 are frequently revised and evaluated in light of new findings, we will have to be discerning and flexible. These plans will be updated and modified as needed throughout the school year. They will need to be living and responsive plans.
3. Other Considerations for Parents
We first want to express our gratitude once again for your partnership last spring amidst all the uncertainties. We accomplished our mission during the entirety of fourth quarter and completed school as planned on May 20. The in-person Shanley graduation for our 86 seniors was a real highlight in a challenging spring. Thank you one and all.
Now, we appeal to your good will and spirit of collaboration as we prepare to accomplish our mission once again. Let’s be patient, understanding, and flexible while striving to do our best to “teach the total person and foster the following of Christ.”
As we focus on that mission, expect this school year to be different. Many beloved school events and traditions will have to be modified or eliminated. School activities in particular will be under the relevant guidelines from state or conference officials, and those are being updated frequently.
A few words about safeguarding health through masks/face coverings and social distancing: COVID-19 is highly infectious and especially spread through respiratory droplets between persons in close contact. Social distancing and face coverings help to prevent its spread. For congregate settings such as schools where strict social distancing is not always possible, wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) was the clear recommendation of all health care professionals and agencies we consulted. While not absolute in prevention, even cloth coverings decrease transmission rates, and are increasingly being required in most public settings and businesses. Earlier this week, the Fargo City Commission approved a mask directive which included schools. Health care professionals recommend masks for students 10 or older and thus we are requiring masks for students in grades 3-12 and for all staff. For students who cannot wear masks for medical reasons, please refer to the relevant portion of the Health and Safety Plan for details. We encourage you to plan with and prepare your student(s) for this new reality. Please be patient as we all get used to this particular cross to carry. Please be courteous to one another as we incorporate this charitable practice which helps protect others: “Love your neighbor.”
Please read and review these plans in the spirit described above. Continue your preparations in the coming weeks as we approach the first day of in-school learning on Thursday, August 27.
Please continue to pray for the end of the pandemic, the patience and love to bear its burdens, and the grace and strength to be indeed “a community inspiring excellence through faith, learning, and service” in this new school year.
In Christ our sure and certain Hope,
Mike Hagstrom Mary Beth Traynor
President Vice President