August 26, 2020 
Dear St. Pius X Family:

Before announcing our plans for this next phase of schooling, we first want to thank all of you for your cooperation and efforts in starting this school year safely. Your students have done an excellent job of adhering to our strict guidelines, and it is in large part due to their conformity that we are ready to ramp up our in-person school days. 

Second, thank you to all of our parents for your encouraging emails in support of our reopening plan for the school. We value that you trust us as the leaders of the school to make the best decision not only for our students but also for the support of our teachers and the entire community. For our parents that have concerns about our decision, please know that we hear and understand your frustration, and we will continue to reassess our decision as we move forward. 

As we reflect back on this past spring, it was one of the most disappointing times in the history of St. Pius X. We had to watch the wonderful Class of 2020 lose those capstone events that help memorialize their high school experience. Coupled with that was the loss of nearly every fine arts performance and nearly all athletic events. We want to do everything in our power to avoid such scenarios from developing again. This phasing in of our students has been a success to date, and with everyone working together, we will manage this virus as we move for a full return of all, something we all desire. We all want to keep the campus open!

Beginning Tuesday, September 8, we are going to move to a hybrid schedule which will bring back half of the student population every other day. This hybrid schedule will rotate on an A & B schedule, with Wednesdays reserved as a virtual day for the entire student population. We will continue with our use of alpha cohorts in order to keep families together. Group A includes students with last names starting with A through K, and Group B includes students with last names starting with L through Z. 

With the current schedule of attending in thirds, we have an average of 5.5 in-person population (IPP) students in each classroom. When we move to the half hybrid, assuming our full-time virtual students will remain the same (though we believe these numbers have the potential to increase), the number increases to 8.2 IPP students per classroom.

We hope parents and students have noticed the extraordinary precautions we have taken in cleaning the school and providing the necessary equipment and supplies to keep your children, and our faculty and staff, healthy and safe. With the minimal increase in students in each class, we are confident that we can continue our efforts in this area. We should be clear that some classes may have as many as 15 students in a class, but we have reviewed each of those classrooms and determined that we can maintain a safe distance for in-person instruction. We will also continue to require the use of masks throughout the day.

St. Pius X prides itself on our mission to provide a college preparatory education for the formation of the mind, body and spirit of each student in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church. The current circumstances require that we meet the needs of our entire community while still focusing on the importance of forming each individual student. To serve each student to the best of our abilities, we are utilizing two tracks for our student body.

Full-Time Virtual (FTV)
The Full-Time Virtual (FTV) Track allows students who are medically fragile or have other personal or familial considerations to continue their St. Pius X education virtually. This educational model mixes synchronous and asynchronous instruction, but requires students to participate in a full SPX bell schedule and be an active member of their classes. 

In-Person Population (IPP)
The In-Person Population (IPP) Track is for students who are willing and able to fully abide by all of the increased health, safety, and academic protocols, and will focus on in-person education in accordance with archdiocesan mandates and necessary safety demands and constraints. This option is designed to maximize student time on campus in the classroom and with their peers.

We are pleased to be able to offer Dual-Population instruction that can support the varied needs of students in our community. In dual-population instruction, virtual and in-person platforms coincide in the classroom. The overlap of platforms creates a complex teaching environment, wherein teachers strive to be present and attentive to students on multiple platforms, often simultaneously. To provide our students an optimal learning experience, we will maintain one virtual day a week where all students and teachers will be on the same platform. The virtual day will provide several advantages to both the IPP and FTV populations: this day gives the opportunity for increased attention to the FTV population, who only have the virtual connection to the classroom, and on that day can operate on equal footing. The virtual day also provides a venue for one-on-one or small-group communication with students who need extra support from the teacher. For teachers, the virtual day provides the only day in which their entire section can assemble on the same platform, allowing for assurance of student comprehension and class progress as well as the aligning of our curriculum. 

Designed to model Christ's command to "leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray," (Matthew 18:12), these models allow for every student to remain an active part of the St. Pius X community and benefit from the same educational opportunities and interactions from their teacher. 

We will constantly assess the situation and will give families a minimum of a one week notice should we move to another model of learning. The exception is in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak at St. Pius X, in which case the Archdiocese of Atlanta Office of Catholic Schools may order us to close and return to full time virtual learning for all students. We have already witnessed several Archdiocesan schools that have had to return to full time virtual school for entire grades due to outbreaks. It is our sincere hope that our cautious and prudent approach will allow us to remain open without having to take any drastic measures to mitigate the spread of the virus.

At this time all students will remain as they are currently assigned, as either in-person population (IPP) or full-time virtual (FTV), unless we receive a request to change. If you want to change your student's status, you must submit this form by 9 a.m. on Monday, August 31.  Any change made via this form will go into effect on Tuesday, September 8. After September 8, if parents want to switch their student from IPP to FTV learning, they must send an email stating their requested change to Parents will be notified once the request has been approved, at which time the student will transition to full-time virtual. Once families opt into full-time virtual school, students are required to continue learning virtually for a minimum of two weeks. Spoken plainly, if your student remains FTV, the next opportunity to switch to IPP status will be September 18.

The school will continue to be sanitized utilizing disinfectants and virucides by way of our electrostatic sprayers on a daily basis. Wednesdays will afford our Maintenance and cleaning crews further opportunities to do even more thorough, deep cleanings.  Student desks are being wiped down at the end of every class; restrooms are being sanitized multiple times a day; and hand sanitizer is available to students at all entrances and in every classroom.  

We urge our families to continue to partner with us off campus by following the health and safety guidelines that have allowed us to open safely and remain open thus far. Please, when anyone in your family is out in public, wear a mask and practice social distancing. Our school cannot function without its teachers, and we are doing our best to protect them while they are here teaching your children. We ask that you protect them, as well as the rest of the student population, by doing your part to mitigate the spread of this virus. 

We anticipate that all students with a valid parking pass will be able to park on the main campus. Those that are assigned to Baseball or Shallowford lots should be prepared to use those spaces should on-campus parking be full.

We have created a revised return to school plan with updated information.  Please click here to read the updated plan.

This time in our history calls us to lean into the Spirit, trust in what is good for the many, and consider the benefits of others. Turning to Christ's example, we're reminded "If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. [...] humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others" (Philippians 2:1-2,4). As we move forward in continuation of this semester, we ask for your prayers, compassion, mercy, and joys, knowing that we walk by faith in our goal to love and serve all the members of our St. Pius X family.

Although this year and this world seems to tear us apart and confront us with challenging situations that are not our ideal, we turn to Christ and remember that all we do is for love of neighbor, for "Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40).


Steve Spellman
Edye Simpson, Ed.D
St. Pius X Catholic High School
2674 Johnson Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30345