St. Jude of the Lake Catholic School remains committed to keep all our students, faculty, staff and families safe while offering a full-time, in-person educational experience of excellence rooted in our Catholic faith. We have designed a comprehensive plan that is flexible enough to be responsive to the ever-changing impact of COVID-19 on our local community.
Updated: January 3, 2022
Keeping Our Penguin Power Shining Bright Plan
MN COVID Decision Tree for Schools
Updated: October 18, 2021
MDH Vaccine Resource
Here is a link to MDH for information on the COVID vaccine for children as a resource for parents of children and teens. It also includes a location finder on where to get the vaccine. While this is not a required vaccine, you may contact the School Health Office if you wish to have it added to your child’s school health record.
January 3, 2022
Dear PengWinner Families:
I hope everyone had a blessed Christmas and wonderful new year’s celebration. We are looking forward to an awesome start to the second half of the school year.
We will continue to follow the MDH Decision Tree for our day school and child care programs rather than the updated CDC guidelines for the general public. We will let you know if/when the MDH updates its Decision Tree based upon the CDC’s changes.
To ensure as smooth a start as possible and to increase the chances we are able to be in-person, all staff and students are required to wear masks/face shields through Friday, January 7th, to mitigate the spread due to all the holiday activities. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and keep you tightly posted on any changes to our COVID Dashboard and on ParentSquare.
In the meantime, we ask that you continue to:
- keep kids home if they’re not feeling well, even if they test negative for COVID or feel better with medication,
- notify the office if there’s an exposure,
- test if there are symptoms, and
- notify the office if your child is experiencing flu symptoms or tests positive for flu.
I hope and pray that you understand these measures are necessary to increase the chances of keeping our kids in school, reduce our community risk, and alleviate some of the stress on the staff and keep them healthy. *Along these lines, we are experiencing a shortage of substitute teachers and would appreciate you letting me know if you can fill that role.
Many thanks for doing your part to keep our community as safe and healthy as possible.
Let’s continue to keep our PENGUIN POWER SHINING BRIGHT.
Cheerfully In Christ and Prayer!
Carrie Hackman, Principal
November 23, 2021
Hello PengWINNER Families,
Hooray! We have almost made it to December, and I do not know about you, but I loved the temperatures and gorgeous leaf colors of early-October and November and am even enjoying the winter temperatures one day and mild fall-like temperatures the next. You got to love Minnesota! My favorite times of the day are when I visit with students, as it is clear to me that they are feeling extremely settled-in and more confident each day. The energy in the building is palpable. There is an abundance of smiles, laughter, and learning going on in our school. Although we have worked hard to get back to a “revised new” normal this year, a few things are still a little different for our PengWINNERS. I am so impressed with their resiliency and positive attitudes they display every day. #PengWINS4theWIN!
I want to extend a big thank you to all our parents for partnering with us to continue to navigate the Covid-19 pandemic. On behalf of St. Jude of the Lake, thank you for doing your part to keep our community safe. Your efforts are to be applauded. Many more thanks to our staff and faculty for the incredible job they are doing to continue to deliver an outstanding academic experience while maintaining our HAPPY PLACE feeling, even under these unique circumstances. We are proud of all that we can accomplish TOGETHER.
I am sure you are becoming increasingly aware of the high rate of virus and flu-like illnesses, as well as COVID-19 cases, that are spiking all at the same time locally, statewide, and nationally. Minnesota remains at one of the highest positive case states in the country. Despite all our efforts, there is a perfect storm brewing between the approaching holiday season and Covid-19/Flu/RSV cases that are spiking. As it should be, the holiday season inevitably will bring more visits and get togethers with friends and family, increased travel, and a much more relaxed health and wellness routine.
Therefore, in the best interest of our entire community to keep the students in school, we are asking all staff and students to mask/shield up for the 5 days post return to school, November 29-December 6. During this time if there is an in-class exposure, we may have to extend the mask/shield time according to the exposure. We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you tightly posted on any changes on our COVID Dashboard and on ParentSquare. In the meantime, we ask that you continue to:
- Keep students home when they do not feel good.
- Notify the office if there is an exposure to COVID-19 and test if there are symptoms.
- Work in partnership with our school nurse on type of exposure and timeline for return.
- Consider getting the vaccination.
I hope and pray you understand that this might help keep our kids in school, reduce our collective community risk, and alleviate some of the stress on the staff to help keep them healthy. Collectively, this will better provide you and your children with the quality experience we at St. Jude of the Lake work so hard to maintain.
Again, many thanks and kudos to our entire community. Virtual fist bumps all around. The St. Jude of the Lake Catholic School parents, students, teachers, and staff are shining bright. My thoughts and prayers continue to be held up for our health, safety, and well-being.
Stay well…Stay safe…Stay in prayer and KEEP THE PENGUIN POWER SHINING BRIGHT! #PengWINS4theWIN!
Abundantly blessings on your Thanksgiving Holiday-ENJOY!
Cheerfully In Christ and Prayer- Carrie Hackman, Principal
Addendum – September 20, 2021
Dear PengWINNER Families-
We are almost two full weeks into the school year and ready to fully implement our KEEPING OUR PENGUIN POWER SHINING BRIGHT PLAN 2021, Tuesday September 21. Along with our current robust mitigation strategies already in place, St. Jude of the Lake Catholic School will continue to strongly recommend masks, although they are now optional, as they are one of many mitigation strategies that could have some positive effect of keeping our students in school. Wearing a mask (along with other mitigation strategies) can lessen the chance of a child having to quarantine per the quarantine protocol using the MDH Decision Tree as resource. We will work extra diligently to ensure there is no stigma on those who choose to wear masks/face shields. As always, our primary goal is to keep our students safely enjoying in person learning and hoping all our efforts give our community the best chance of keeping our kids in school without interruption this school year.
To that end, the decision has been made to amend the original plan regarding protocol for positive cases in the classroom to better serve our students and community.
Any student with a confirmed positive case must follow the Minnesota Department of Health Decision Tree for quarantine protocol. In this event, please contact our school nurse, Mary Collins, at email@example.com to walk through the details of the decision tree which will determine the quarantine timeline.
When there is a confirmed exposure to a positive case during school, the protocol will be as follows:
Families will be notified by ParentSquare Alert if there is an in-school positive case exposure in their child’s classroom. Please feel free to pick up your student at your convenience. We will be asking all students to wear a mask or face shield for the remainder of the day.
For any student exposed to the positive case during the school day, parents will have two options:
We are asking the classroom students to mask/face shield for 10 days post-exposure.
Several points to note:
- Testing is one of the most helpful tools in preventing the spread of Covid-19. We are strongly recommending all students to be tested after exposure to prevent possible further spread. If a student develops symptoms, they should get tested as soon as possible. If a test that is taken immediately after an exposure is negative, it is recommended to repeat the test again in 3 to 5 days after exposure. St. Jude of the Lake has a limited supply of at-home test kits available upon request. Please see attached for at-home testing options.
- Quarantine protocols for household exposure (multiple family members living in the same household) can be longer than the shortened quarantine options for an outside of the school day exposure. Please test all family members if a positive case is within your household. Please contact Mary Collins, our school nurse, to determine the type of exposure and protocol for return.
- Please feel free to contact Mary Collins with any questions.
As the school year unfolds, we are going to try very hard to avoid any situation where we must quarantine a class/school for an epidemic spread. However, if St. Jude experiences a high volume of positive cases, we may have to temporarily go to distance learning model or quarantine to reset, give our community time to heal and the custodial staff time to sanitize the building. We are not planning on this situation, but we are ready if it happens. As always, we will make decisions based upon what’s best for our community.
As previously communicated, we need to focus on the positive aspects of our community and experiencing another awesome school year. Let’s all focus ourselves and our children on our incredible learning environment and supporting each other. I will be back in touch if anything changes.
Our kids deserve nothing less than our best, most positive and encouraging support of them and each other. TOGETHER, we are already off to an incredible start of another AWESOME school year! #PengWINNERSarePengGRINNING!
Many blessings on your days.
Cheerfully In Christ and Prayer-
St. Jude Pray For Us!
Carrie Hackman, Principal
Dear St. Jude of the Lake Catholic School PengWINNER Families,
Thank you for being a special part of our community. We take great pride in our partnership with you. As you know, we are living in unprecedented times. As a learning community, it’s important that we learn and grow from our experience with COVID over the last eighteen months.
Together, we learned:
- the COVID situation is VERY dynamic and ever-changing
- the authorities and health experts change their guidance often, and sometimes conflict with each other
- there are some mandates and guidelines that are mandatory and some that are voluntary (that is, we don’t always have full latitude to make decisions)
- if we stay nimble and flexible and quickly adapt to the situation, we can have a wonderful experience for our students
- if we stay positive and keep a “can do” spirit about us, we can deal with anything that comes our way
- our very strong and tight-knit community got even stronger and closer over the last eighteen months
- together, we can do great things for our students.
To make this year even more successful than last year, we need your encouragement, grace and optimism, especially when you discuss the situation and guidelines with your children. Your positive attitude and understanding will help to set the tone for the upcoming school year and set our students up for success. Together, let’s make this year about the amazing community and learning environment that is St Jude of the Lake. Let’s focus on positivity and flexibility and grace for each other. Let’s not get caught up in the divisive atmosphere that has characterized so much of our society. For example, we all need to respect individual choices made about whether to wear a face mask. We need to hold each other up and support each other. We’re likely to be dealing with some aspect of COVID for years to come. All the more reason to focus on the positive aspects of our community. Let’s make St Jude, OUR HAPPY PLACE, the place where we all come to focus on the students and learning and supporting each other.
We have worked very hard over the last few months making sure we address the wide range of challenges facing us as we return to the building. In order to ensure that we plan for and implement the best practices, we needed to consult with many people and outside groups and wait for additional guidance. Again, many thanks to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Archdiocese, the Catholic Schools Center of Excellence, Fr. Chad, the faculty and staff, Joe Sampair and the School Advisory Committee and several advisors that have worked diligently to ensure that we provide a safe environment for everyone. It is also important to note that these the guidelines we are sharing here were informed by the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), the American Pediatric Association (APA), and other governing and research organizations. The guidelines provide our school community direction on the school calendar, academic instruction, daily schedules, health and safety protocols, lunch and recess, and before and after-school activities.
As I am sure you continue to imagine and understand, with information and best practices changing daily, this plan must be a living document. We will continue to make the best decisions we can based on the information we have at the time. When the information changes, so might our decisions. We will adjust and adapt when and if necessary.
Our primary goal is to keep all of our students, faculty, staff and families safe. We need your collaboration and partnership to accomplish that while also achieving our objective of a full-time, in-person, and amazing learning environment. TOGETHER — we need everyone’s Penguin Power Shining Bright- #PenGRINNING2021!
Please feel free to reach out anytime, for any reason. I am available by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone 651-470-9531, or for an office visit on Tuesday-Thursday, from 10am-1pm. or by appointment.
Stay well…Stay Blessed ..And KEEP THE PENGUIN POWER SHINING BRIGHT!
In Christ and In Prayer- Carrie Hackman, Principal
ADDENDUM Regarding Mask Decision:
August 25, 2021
Dear PengWINNER Families-
I would like to start with how much I appreciate the space, grace, prayers, and patience this community has displayed during this ever-changing situation. So many words, emotions, tears shed, energy, and time spent- WOW! We are growing stronger and stronger as a community. We will look back on this time and be proud of how we navigated this part of the journey together.
I want to extend a special thank you to all ninety-one people that responded to the community survey. The results are as follows: When asked, “considering the dynamic and ever-changing situation, and considering all the facts and circumstances, with the goal of serving our entire community, if this decision was left up to you, would you implement a mask mandate for the start of the school year”, 26 (28.57%) selected “yes” and 65 (71.43%) responded “no”. To the second question, “for the start of the school year, if the decision regarding masks is that they are strongly encouraged, but left up to parent-choice, will you have your child wear a mask”, 29 (29.67%) responded “yes” and 64 (70.33%) responded “no”. As you can see, the vast majority of survey respondents would not impose a mask mandate, and would not have their child(ren) wear a mask given a choice. Either way, everyone should feel comfortable and supported in their decisions and actions. As a tight-knit community, we have the ability to make sure we are accepting and understanding of each individual’s choice.
Consistent with the views expressed by the vast majority of our survey respondents and the Minneapolis/St. Paul Archdiocese, our goal is to implement our KEEPING OUR PENGUIN POWER SHINING BRIGHT PLAN 2021 on September 7, the first day of school, with one addendum.
This will also smooth the transition for those students that will be masked during the day. We are convinced this phased-in approach gives our community the best chance of keeping our kids and staff in school full time without interruption. What we are trying very hard to avoid is a situation where we start without masks and we have to quarantine, go remote, or close due to lack of healthy staff within the first couple weeks of school. This approach will also allow us to settle into our school routine after the extremely active last couple of weeks of summer (e.g. family travel, vacations, and the State Fair).
All visitors and volunteers, vaccinated or non-vaccinated, will need to mask up indefinitely while in the building. As previously communicated, we need to focus on the positive aspects of our community and experiencing another awesome school year. Let’s all focus ourselves and our children on our incredible learning environment and supporting each other, and not allow the mask issue to become the focus. As always, we will make decisions on the information we have at the time. If the information or situation changes, so might the decisions.
The comprehensive Return to School Plan, COVID Liability Waiver Form (waiver under further review; further info coming soon), a note on Special Mask Circumstances, and the MDH Decision Tree are linked within this ParentSquare post and also will be snail-mailed separately to your address on file.
Please read them thoroughly. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out for any reason.
TOGETHER, we will have another AWESOME school year. Our kids deserve nothing less than our best, most positive, and encouraging support of them and each other. I look forward to greeting everyone on the first day of school at Peck’in Penguins At Breakfast, which is only a couple of short weeks away. Enjoy the last few days of Summer, and get ready for another great learning experience at OUR HAPPY PLACE.
Many blessings on your days.
Cheerfully In Christ and Prayer-
St. Jude Pray For Us!