July 21, 2020

Dear STM Families,
At first, I drafted a very businesslike announcement to you, then, I decided to write to you from my heart:
I have spent hundreds of hours and many sleepless nights, trying to figure out a way to meet the educational and emotional needs of every single person within our STM community, including the majority of you who request all day learning, those who wish for a hybrid model and those who prefer 100% eLearning.  There just is no way that we can concurrently provide STM-quality brick and mortar education and an STM-quality online presence without hiring a cadre of new teachers.  The expense alone would bankrupt our school.  To not hire new teachers, and expect our current teaching staff
to simultaneously facilitate one cohort of eLearning and another cohort of in-class students, would put our high academic standards at risk and overburden our teachers. 
We will not do that. 
Additionally, I have analyzed other County policies and compared notes with public school Principals via professional forums.  Almost all public schools are returning to school in a hybrid formulary because they are large, cannot fit all of their students in their buildings, do not have mitigation plans delineated, and cannot run an efficient transportation schedule with appropriate separation.  One County, recently deciding to greet the Fall in a purely online mode, does so with the intent of reintroducing students to their buildings in October; only a month after school has started.  Not a safety concern driving the decision, but a hugely cumbersome body that is impacted by a teacher's union and contract start dates.  We are so blessed that we do not have these issues.  Instead we have top notch teachers whose chosen vocation is to serve Christ through your students.  As a matter of a fact, as I type, STM teachers are voluntarily participating in week long, virtual training that will not only make them better online facilitators, should we be forced to return to Phase 2 or 1, but they are also receiving specialized training on how to physically and psychologically attend to your children during these unusual times.  They do this during their summer break and without monetary compensation.
Finally, I cannot judge other Catholic schools' return to school plans.  I can tell you that STM-quality education will not accept an open laptop in the back of a classroom as online learning.  I can tell you that a plan for online learning is under development in order to leverage the advantage of Catholic schools within the Diocese.  This takes time and therefore, I once again, ask for your prayers and for your patience.  
In summary, I have no new information and hence, have held no new Town Halls or Round Tables.  But I do pledge to continue to be transparent and to post anything that I learn on the  STM COVID 19/Return to School page of our school website.   Additionally, I hope to have more information on the online option this week  and will schedule virtual forums to discuss the options.  I will again postpone the decision deadline and will announce it in concert with eLearning information.  Families who do not wish to return to the five day a week brick and mortar model offered by STM for school year 2020-2021 will then be requested to indicate their preference for the distance model utilizing a Google Form that is posted on the COVID19/Return to School page of our website, or by following this link eLearning Selection Form . If you have already made your decision not to return to STM brick and mortar, please feel free to fill out the Google Form.  Those returning to the STM school building for school year 2020-2021 do not need to complete this form. 
I realize that this is a personal parental choice and I pray for clarity for us all. 
Chat soon,