We’ve collected our previous STA communications here to help us stay connected. We hope this resource will help you stay connected with families and better meet your needs during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Summer Connection Update: School Reopening 7/21/20
- Information from the CSO Superintendent Matt Vereecke 7/21/20
- Summer Connection Update 6/29/20
- Summer Connection Update 6/5/20
- Information from the CSO Superintendent Dr. Matt Vereecke 5/22/20
- Plans Moving Forward for Next School Year 4/30/20
- School Closure and End of Year Information Update 4/21/20
- A Message from the Athletics Department : Fall Sports based on Covid-19 4/20/20
- A Message from Our School Advisory Council 4/17/20
- Information from the CSO Superintendent Dr. Matt Vereecke 3/31/20
- Distance Learning Update 3/22/20
- School Closure and Book Pick-Up Information 3/19/20
- Distance Learning Details 3/18/20
- Distance Learning and Resources 3/13/20
- Spring Break and Distance Learning 3/12/20
- Coronavirus Update and Best Practices 3/11/20
- Coronavirus Update and Resources 3/12/20
Dear STA Community,
You should have received the letter from Dr. Matthew Vereecke, Superintendent of the Catholic Schools Office, outlining the effects of the Dallas County order for in-person learning on our schools and families. We have also received further health and safety guidance from the CSO that all Catholic schools in the diocese will be mandated to follow. We believe this guidance, along with the information previously shared on our distance learning model STA@Home and the protocols for a Safe Campus Reopening, should give your family enough information to determine which model is best for your child and your family. At the end of this letter is a link to the Learning Model Selection Form for you to select which model you choose for your child(ren) to begin the school year. We are asking every family to complete the form by Monday, July 27.
We hope this letter answers many questions that both our teachers and our parents have asked over the past four months. We know that the policies and protocols listed below will make school look a little different for a while. It is our greatest hope that if we partner with each other and follow these protocols, we can achieve our shared goal of keeping students, teachers, and families healthy and in school for the duration of the school year. I encourage you to read more about our COVID-19 Plan on the school website and invite you to submit questions here. We will post the answers on the FAQpage.
Phases for Reopening
In light of the diocesan directives for reopening all Dallas Catholic school campuses, STA has developed a phased approach for all students to return to campus. The phases serve as a guide to get back to our regular activities. We will begin the school year in Phase One and evaluate each item listed in Phase Two and Three based on Diocesan, local government, and medical advisement before moving to that phase.
NEW SCHOOL START DATES
Wednesday, September 2
First Day of School – Half Day
A & C and PKE Homerooms ONLY
PKA, KA, 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A, 6A, 7A, 8A
PKC, KC, 1C, 2C, 3C, 4C, 5C, 6C, 7C, 8C
School doors will open at 7:30 AM
No Extended Day; No Lunch
Thursday, September 3
First Day of School – Half Day
B & D Homerooms ONLY
PKB, KB, 1B, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5B, 6B, 7B, 8B
PKD, KD, 1D, 2D, 3D, 4D, 5D, 6D, 7D, 8D
School doors will open at 7:30 AM
No Extended Day; No Lunch
Friday, September 4 and Monday, September 7
No School – Labor Day Holiday
Tuesday, September 8
All Students – Half Day
STA on Campus and STA@Home
School doors will open at 7:30 AM
No Extended Day; No Lunch
Wednesday, September 9
First Full Day of School
STA on Campus and STA@Home
Extended Day begins. All students will either need to bring a lunch or pre-order a boxed lunch through Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.
Please note September 2 will be the official start date for St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School whether beginning online or in-person. The school calendar on the website reflects these changes, including a full list of school events/activities originally planned in August which have been adjusted slightly. These changes will also be listed in the Back to School Guide scheduled to be emailed to you on Friday, July 31. For planning purposes, this new start date will push the last day of school into the first week of June 2021.
Per the Diocese of Dallas, face coverings will be worn by everyone while inside the building, including students, faculty, staff, and essential visitors. If there is a valid medical reason for not wearing a face covering, within the context of COVID-19, this would also mean that attending school in person with such a condition is too dangerous to allow. Any individual who is unwilling or unable to wear a face covering will move to distance learning until masks are not needed. Face shields are not considered masks and will not be allowed as the only face covering.
The Diocese will continue to monitor the situation, including observing districts and schools that do not require masks for all ages, to see if a less restrictive environment keeps students from getting sick. If that is the case, the Diocese is committed to reviewing and revising these requirements when appropriate.
Self-Screening for COVID-19 Symptoms
All students, faculty, and staff must self-screen daily to ensure they are free of the COVID-19 symptoms listed below:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Loss of taste or smell
- Feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit
- Known close contact with a person who is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19
Closing Procedures and Return Protocol in the Case of a COVID-19 Positive Test on Campus
In the case of an individual testing positive for COVID-19 and it is determined that the school has been exposed, during Phase One, the school will implement the following protocol:
- The individual who tests positive must quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.
- The school will move that cohort/homeroom class, along with any people the individual has been in close contact with for more than a five to ten minute period, to distance learning for a ten-day period.
- Any testing for COVID-19 should be delayed until five days after the initial exposure.
- Following a ten-day period, all cohort/homeroom class individuals will be allowed back on campus provided they do not display any symptoms.
- Individuals will not need to provide a negative test to be allowed back on campus.
- In terms of siblings, all households that have a positive case will be asked to self-isolate for a 2-week period. Sibling cohorts/homeroom classes will not be sent home unless a positive case in that class has been determined.
If it is not possible to definitively know with whom the individual has been in contact, the school will presume that maximum exposure has taken place and move anyone who could have come into contact with the individual to distance learning, up to and including the entire school.
The Diocese and the Dallas Parochial League have agreed to offer no sports for elementary schools (5th – 8th grade) in the fall of 2020. It is impossible to conduct practices and games, contact trace for COVID-19 positive tests, and keep students in their respective cohorts (homerooms) while also limiting possible exposure for students, volunteers, and parents. More information will be provided at a later date for winter and spring sport offerings.
Consent and Release for In-Person School Attendance
A Diocesan parent agreement is required for all parents choosing the STA on campus model. Please click the link below to read and electronically sign the Diocesan Consent and Release Agreement.
This push to a later start date gives us the gift of time: time for COVID-19 positive cases to decrease in Dallas county, time for teachers to get their classrooms ready, time for training on two new learning systems (Seesaw and Teams) for STA@Home technology, time for parents and children to prepare for a new way of approaching school. Both virtual and in-person activities will begin before the first day of school. See the calendar on the school website and the Back to School Guide that will be emailed to you on Friday, July 31 for all the details.
I will leave this letter with a prayer that may help you discern the right choice for your family. Please don't forget to click the link below by Monday, July 27 to let us know your choice for the new September 2nd start date.
Guidance and Direction Prayer
Gracious Father, please fill me with your Holy Spirit to lead me. You said that your Spirit will teach me all things and guide me into all truth. I ask you for guidance and direction now, Lord, and pray that you would answer my request. You are a perfectly good Father who only ever gives good gifts to his children. When I become overwhelmed, please give me the peace that surpasses all understanding. Clear my mind to follow you with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.
Together we are #STAstrong. We will support all our families no matter what model you choose. We will get through this pandemic as safely as we can, and we will continue to be a school and church community that thrives in the good times and finds strength together in uncertain times.
Dr. Patrick Magee
July 21, 2020
Dear Parents –
I am writing to update you on the safety plans for our diocesan schools as we continue to plan for our fall reopening. Over the course of the summer, the leaders of your diocesan schools have been meeting regularly with our office and with outside medical experts throughout the State of Texas. We have been sharing, revising and testing the various plans and protocols that are necessary to keep kids safe, and we are continuously submitting those plans for validation to our health experts.
We have come to the conclusion that we can absolutely open our schools in person, and that we can keep our teachers, students and staff safe. Over and over again, our medical experts have pointed to examples throughout the country and the world that have reopened safely, and have put those best practices into some simple steps that can slow and stop the transmission of the virus. The simple matter is that public schools are facing different issues: our Catholic Schools have smaller classes, different facilities and more flexibility to adapt to the health concerns that we currently see.
Because we firmly support parishes and schools having local control, we do not take diocesan-wide mandates like this one lightly. To that end, we have limited our guidance to things that we have determined to be medically necessary in order to keep our schools open, to ensure consistency among our protocols in terms of when schools will close when COVID-19 infections are detected and to how students and faculty will be screened for symptoms each day.
I am acutely aware that for some, these protocols may be seen as an ideological or political statement. That is not the case. Our decisions have been made with only three objectives in mind: ensuring the health, safety and faith of our students, faculty and staff. Human life is sacred, and as Catholics we have a responsibility to protect it from conception to natural death, and we firmly believe these protocols will do so.
You will get a detailed reopening plan from your school very shortly if you have not already, but these are the consistent policies that you will see at all diocesan schools:
• All diocesan elementary schools that are not in Dallas County can begin in person instruction as early as August 19th.
• All diocesan elementary schools in Dallas County can begin in person instruction as early as September 2nd.
• Regardless of start date, there will be a two-week phase in to fulltime instruction where we train all of our students and parents on our protocols.
• All individuals will be required to wear face masks or neck gaiters when inside school buildings. For the safety of the entire school community, exceptions to this policy will not be granted.
• There will be no fall sports for the grade schools.
• All individuals will submit to health screenings every day; mandatory sick leave will be enforced and details will be shared by your local principal when and if someone tests positive.
• All diocesan schools will continue to offer online learning options for students who prefer to learn at home.
Be assured that we will be actively reviewing these procedures alongside our health experts and monitoring schools and organizations that are less restrictive than our own in order to consider relaxing restrictions. As always, we are thankful for your partnership and your trust, and we look forward to seeing you in the fall. In the meantime, our prayers are with all of those who strive to help our students in their quest of becoming Saints and Scholars, and for the health, safety and well-being of all of you.
Dear St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School Parents,
We are sharing the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School Protocols for a Safe Opening with you at the link below along with a four-question survey to be completed by July 8th.
Our working plan, presented below, was developed with the latest guidance by the Catholic Schools Office, the Texas Education Agency, and state and local governing agencies. Every procedure and protocol in our reopening plan is subject to change based on the public health situation and further guidance by these agencies.
After reviewing the information in our Protocols for a Safe Opening, please take a moment to fill out the Parent Choice Learning Model Survey below. Your participation is essential to plan for instructional programs, staff deployment, and class placement.
We understand that things change rapidly regarding COVID-19. Your participation in the survey is not a definite commitment to one model or the other. You will be able to choose a different option as we get closer to the August 12th start date.
Thank you again for your continued patience and flexibility as we move forward in preparation for the 2020-2021 school year.
Dr. Patrick Magee, President
Lauren Roberts, Lower School Principal
Jen Watts, Upper School Principal
Dear STA Community,
St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School is committed to reopening our campus this August while focusing on the safety and well-being of our students and staff. Therefore, the major administrative focus is evaluating every aspect of our “normal school” day, making appropriate modifications to meet guidelines, and communicating what this will look like to students, teachers, and parents.
Back to School Guide: The annual Back to School Guide emailed to you in July will contain all the specific protocols and procedures for the upcoming school year. It is important to note that we will continue to implement guidance from the Bishop, the governor, and state and local governments, so all of the planning listed below is based on the best information that we have today. We will continue to monitor their guidelines through the summer and develop our plans and options so that we are prepared for whatever specifications come our way.
Parent Feedback: The feedback from the parent survey indicates some parents are concerned about the possible state of the pandemic in the fall and are interested in alternative educational choices for their children, including learning from home. Other parents are ready for their children to return to a more traditional classroom setting. In preparation for the start of a new school year, we are working on plans to provide traditional face-to-face learning options, as well as at-home learning options that will allow students to remain enrolled in STA with all the benefits and support available. We are committed to delivering a high-quality education for our students in a number of ways.
School Calendar: The school will proceed with the adopted school calendar for 2020-21 approved by the CSO with the first day of school on August 12. Our goal is to have an instructional plan that allows us to move between face-to-face and remote learning if necessary. Should a prolonged school closure be mandated, we can revisit the calendar at that time.
Planning: The Task Force has been working with other Catholic schools as well as researching various scenarios and considering guidance from the Texas Education Agency and other state and local agencies to date. Below is an update from each sub-committee:
Continuity of Instruction
The committee is working to develop a comprehensive and adjustable “return to instruction” plan by:
- Setting benchmarks for beginning of the year.
- Adjusting the scope and sequence of instruction to incorporate essential standards from the last nine weeks of the 2019-2020 school year.
- Scheduling curriculum alignment meetings with teachers between grade levels.
- Creating assessments to identify academic and social-emotional needs of students and ensuring proper intervention and support.
- Seeking professional development for all teachers on differentiation strategies to meet each student where he/she is.
- Learning from and evaluating our distance learning experiences during the spring and improving and standardizing instructional practices, expectations, and procedures for both asynchronous and synchronous learning.
- Implementing technology upgrades including laptop deployment for all teachers across both campuses and vetting recommendations for home technology on a grade-by-grade basis.
Safety & Health
We will continue to put families and the safety of our students and teachers at the forefront of our planning, committing to provide safe and clean learning environments where students can learn and grow together. In compliance with diocesan health and safety requirements, the committee is focused on what is necessary to safely operate facilities. Multiple facets of operations are being revisited including facilities, school day schedules, extra/co-curricular activities, custodial service, hygiene/personal protection equipment, school procedures, and a host of logistical considerations. In the course of this planning we are:
- Actively seeking the advice of an infectious disease doctor, anchoring recommendations to our modifications and focusing on what matters most.
- Conducting walkthroughs of all buildings with the help of an architect for the purpose of reconfiguring each classroom space to maximize the distance between students.
- Identifying modifications such as installation of touchless faucets and paper towel dispensers in restrooms, and improvements to outdoor spaces to allow for more outdoor instruction.
- Increasing quantities of supplies such as hand-sanitizers, soaps, disinfectants, and school supplies to eliminate sharing, such as markers, crayons, and paintbrushes.
- Drafting plans related to new health screenings for students and staff, and changes to student health services.
The committee continues to monitor the approved budgets of the school and its supporting organizations, and provide analysis and adjustments for the 2020-2021 school year including:
- Revising the 2020-2021 budget to reflect current enrollment and adjusted expenses impacted by COVID-19 including increasing maintenance and cleaning line items.
- Supporting our families by eliminating contribution requirements to Endowment and GAP funds for the 2020 calendar year and increasing emergency tuition aid.
- Postponing billing of Extended Day program fees until August.
- Seeking donations and funding for the STA Emergency Tuition Fund.
- Approving technology upgrades for classrooms.
Communications & Connections
We will continue to seek feedback from stakeholders as we prepare for the fall. Please monitor your email for information about these feedback opportunities. Be assured that we will keep you informed along the way as decisions are made by:
- Enhancing summer communications and education to parents as it relates to a safe campus reopening including task force summaries and updating the Back to School Guide with new COVID-19 related policies and procedures.
- Adding resources to the STA website for our community to provide as much transparency as possible as it relates to a safe reopening.
- Creating and analyzing surveys from parents and community feedback.
- Meeting with support/volunteer organizations such as STAPA, FOSTA, and Booster Club to ensure safe continued community engagement, planning, and participation for the 2020-2021 school year.
- Providing resources to parents and STA faculty and staff on COVID-19 and CDC guidelines.
I know many of you will have questions about the logistics of returning to campus. As we work toward our opening in August, please know that we will continue to communicate detailed information to you. Special thanks to all the committee members for your due diligence in working toward a safe and successful opening in August. Thank you, parents, for your continued support of our school as we navigate through COVID-19 and look toward the start of a new year when we welcome our students back to school.
Dr. Patrick Magee
May 22, 2020
Dear Parents –
I want to thank you for your attention, partnership and patience over the last few months as we have all navigated the constantly changing realities within our community and our schools. I hope that you and all your loved ones are currently safe and healthy. I also want you to know that our prayers and support are with you now more than ever – we know that all families have been affected by job loss, stress, worry, and a general sense of uncertainty about the future.
From the beginning of this period, it has been important to me that our schools serve as resources of hope, and that we could continue to provide formation for the Saints and Scholars that have been entrusted to our care. Now that we are seeing changing restrictions in Dallas and throughout Texas, we want to continue to be that message of hope and share with you our latest thinking on the realities of the fall and the start of school.
First, we remain committed to following the advice of experts throughout this process. None of the guidelines we are working from are self-generated; we are relying on the guidance and expertise of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Texas Education Agency and our own Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops Education Department. Second, we have tremendous trust in our local school leaders’ ability to determine the best practical applications of guidelines for their campuses, and we will continue to rely on their judgement in terms of day-to-day decisions. We are approaching all of this from a perspective of safety and need, and we are acknowledging that campus layouts, resources and numbers of students will affect what is possible and what is prudent on each campus. However, we do have a number of things that will be required at all campuses, and I want to share those with you so that you can have an expectation of what school will look like in the fall.
It is important to note that we will continue to respond to guidance from the Bishop, the Governor and State and local governments, so all of this planning is based on the best information that we have today. We feel confident telling you that we will not be less restrictive than what is written in this letter, but may be more restrictive based on the conditions present at the beginning of August.
As of now, based on the CDC checklist for reopening schools (you can find it here) we believe that we can open all schools in person in the fall and maintain a robust system of monitoring and response. Our plans to meet these guidelines are based around four foundations: monitoring and responding to student and faculty health; limiting and eliminating unnecessary or risky activities; revising cleaning and disinfection protocols; and finally, having additional blended learning and virtual learning options available for planned or unplanned shutdowns.
While the specific logistics of these plans will be handled at the school level (and will look different based on need), we will have consistent requirements across the diocese to achieve a safe environment.
• All students and faculty members will be screened daily for signs of illness;
• Students and faculty members will be required to stay home for longer periods of time following an illness;
• Visitors or volunteers will not be allowed on campuses;
• Face coverings will be required for all employees;
• Face coverings will be required for age-appropriate student populations;
• Interactions and movement of students within the campus will be limited to better control contact; and finally,
• We will be aggressive in our decisions to move to remote learning in the case that COVID-19 is detected within a community.
We will be testing, revising and finalizing the specifics of these plans throughout the summer as needs and conditions change, so you will get final procedures from your child’s school near the end of summer. In the meantime, we will be meeting for additional planning sessions with all schools within the diocese to continue to share best practices and to give specifics in terms of screening guidelines and local campus plans.
We remain incredibly grateful to you and all of our teachers here in the diocese who maintained our commitment to excellence in education over the last few months, and you will remain in our thoughts and prayers as we enter into the summer break. I hope that you all find time to rest and revitalize, and we are overjoyed about being able to see you all again very soon.
Dear St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School Community,
It is now over six weeks that we have been away from our wonderful campus, all the while working and learning remotely. During these uncertain times with our school campus closed and the significant shifts away from normal routines, I want to encourage you to remember the big picture. This is a time to focus on and be grateful for, your family’s safety, health, and well-being. We will get through this together with grace and flexibility. As I stated in an earlier communication, please do not worry about your children regressing in school if they are unable to engage fully with the Distance Learning platform. When we go back to school, we will meet every child wherever they are! Our teachers are the best, and this is what they do.
STA is committed to reopening our campus this August while ensuring the safety of our students and staff. Therefore, the major administrative focus right now is on reopening the campuses safely and what that will look like for students, teachers, and parents. To that end, we are in constant dialogue with the Catholic Schools Office (CSO). Currently, the CSO is in a “wait and see” mode before committing to a specific reopening model. The protocol for reopening will be a diocesan directive based on recommendations from TEA and TCCBED.
Today, I wanted to share with you that I have formed the STA Task Force for a Safe and Healthy Opening. We will follow the CSO recommendations; however, I am committed to taking proactive measures so we have ample time to create and implement data-informed policies and procedures for a safe reopening. We must plan for the potential financial impact the pandemic may have on our community while maintaining transparency, and providing accurate communication to you throughout the process.
I am forming the following Task Force committees:
1. Continuity of Instruction – This committee will develop plans to support instruction for August. While we are not clear what the recommendations will be from the CSO, the committee will research and create various models including our campuses are open and begin as scheduled; we have to implement a hybrid or blended approach; or worst-case scenario we continue through a remote learning platform. Again, how we reopen will be a diocesan directive, and we will be in an advantageous position due to the work of this committee. Additionally, this committee will address scenarios where students must remain away from campus for brief periods of time and how we support students’ well-being and academic development.
Committee – Chair: Leslie Reeves, Committee members: Jen Watts, STA US Principal; Jyothi Titus, STA School Advisory Council; Andrew Price, STA Instructional Technologist; Mike Sullivan, English Dept. Chair; Dottie Lucas, Religion Dept. Chair; Diane Galvin, Science Dept. Chair; Sara Casner, Math Dept. Chair; and teachers Laura Gambrel and Bonnie Young.
2. STA Safety and Health – This committee will develop comprehensive recommendations for physical distancing, school visitors/volunteers, and frequent deep cleaning protocols. Additionally, the committee will develop plans for student drop-off/pick-up, infrared thermometer daily testing, masks, and student movement.
Committee – Chair: Lauren Roberts, Committee members: Mitch Paradise, STA School Advisory Council; Dean Galvin, STA School Advisory Council, Dionne Rainey, STA School Advisory Council; Shannon Storey, STA Dean of Students; Zach Courtney, US Reading Specialist; Genevieve Ditmar, Athletic Director; Linda Freis, LS Science; Lindsay Ivory, STAPA; Allison Jorgenson, LS P.E.; Cathy Moore, LS PK; Cheryl Neeley, LS Receptionist; Renee Pinkston, US Nurse; Nikki Ramos, LS Nurse; Jen Watts, US Principal, Judi Thomas, LS Fine Arts.
3. Financial Continuity – This committee will assess and evaluate school finances, enrollment, and operational expenses, as well as develop a plan for short-term and long-term capital initiatives/expenses.
Committee – Chair: Patrick Magee, Committee members: Vicki Ryan, STA CFO; Mark Dufilho, STA School Advisory Council; Ann Kubes, STA Human Resources; John Kappes, Director of IT.
4. Communications and Connections – This committee will coordinate with the above committees and assume responsibility for accurate and effective messaging to the STA community as we begin the process of coming back to campus. Furthermore, this committee will share opportunities for our community to feel connected to our school in a new era of social distancing.
Committee – Chair: Rachel Wright, Committee members: Nicole Little, STA School Advisory Council; Shelly Kirby, STA Communications; Kristin Clary, STA Special Events; Kelly Gordon, STAPA PR; Carrie Luckey, US Admin.
We need to recognize that when we gather together again, things will be different. We are very aware that physical distancing and safety protocols will be critical as we bring back our students and staff. There most likely will be inconveniences, but they will be necessary for us to get back into the classrooms in a safe and responsible way.
I know many of you will have questions about the logistics of returning to school. As we work toward our opening in August, we will continue to provide detailed communication to you. In closing, and on behalf of Fr. John, Jen and Lauren, and myself, thank you for your continued support, trust, and the grace you have extended to us. We are deeply committed to providing exceptional instruction, a safe and healthy environment, and a Catholic education centered in the love of Jesus Christ.
Dear STA families,
I pray that your family is in good health as we continue our journey together during these uncertain times. Please know we, the STA administration, are available to you for any concerns you may have. We understand the added stress of balancing this health crisis, managing your own jobs, and helping your children academically, emotionally, and spiritually. We know this is difficult. Please know you are not alone. We are here to support, listen to, and share with you. Also, I am so impressed with our students; they are rising to the challenge of remote learning, completing assignments, working with their teachers, and truly putting their best foot forward. I could not be more proud!
I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on some specific dates and events that you may have questions about. Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that all Texas schools will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year as part of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This mandate includes all schools in the Diocese of Dallas. Previously, Abbott had ordered schools closed until at least May 4.
Traditions run deep at STA, and during this time of the year, we begin preparing for our important end-of-year events. This year, many of our most cherished events will look a bit different. And while we may not get to celebrate in person, we most definitely will celebrate in spirit. We are diligently working on alternative activities and dates for 8th grade Tribute and graduation, kindergarten graduation, and First Communion. Once plans are finalized, we will communicate all the information to you. Additionally, we are working on virtual field day activities for all our students to be scheduled the last week of school.
The last day of school is as follows:
8th Grade – May 13 (no finals)
Preschool and Kindergarten – May 28
Grades 1 through 7 – May 29
We will schedule a staggering drop-off time for books and computers in May, similar to the pick-up conducted in March.
Looking to next year, our first day of school is scheduled for August 12. You most likely will have many questions on what re-opening the school will look like in August. We are currently working closely with the Catholic Schools Office and the Texas Education Agency on developing a plan to safely welcome back our Wildcats. Once this plan is finalized it will be immediately communicated to you.
Activities in August are still on the calendar including the STAPA Used Uniform sale on Saturday, August 1 and the Risse Uniform and Spirit Store Pop-Up at the Upper School on Tuesday, August 4. All this information and any updates will be in the Back to School Packet.
As teachers continue to provide high quality and robust instruction for students to maintain their learning, the Catholic Schools Office has granted schools discretion to revise grading practices based on the needs of their communities. At St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School, we have developed a grading policy for the fourth quarter that reflects core competencies while giving special consideration to the circumstances associated with remote learning. Students in grades PK through 2nd grade will move to pass/fail, allowing teachers to focus on instruction and academic excellence while reducing stress to families around academic performance. Students in grades 3 through 8 will continue to receive 1-3 weekly grades in core classes. Missing assignment notifications will be sent to parents, but deadlines will be extended to accommodate families during this chaotic and unchartered time. Special area classes will move to pass/fail as enrichment. Calculations of final grades will be weighted toward the first three quarters, and special consideration will be given to families that have less than ideal access to technology or learning resources. We believe this plan is the most appropriate course of action to support our students, parents, and staff.
Please know, I continue to pray for you and your family daily. Stay safe and healthy, and please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of service.
Dr. Patrick Magee
2020 STA Cheer Revised based on Covid-19
I hope everyone is surviving what I call “Groundhog Day” …The New Normal! In all seriousness, we are all working to push forward with positivity and hopefulness for the 2020 Fall School year. That being said, we have looked at our cheer program and have come up with the following adjustments to our presentation earlier this year:
6th GRADE CHEER
Remains the same as presented with the addition of a sideline participant option. This is available for those student-athletes that have firm commitments with outside activities but still would like to be a part of the Wildcat Spirit!
Sideline Only Cheerleader for 6th grade girls who want to cheer but is unable to make the full schedule (the full practice time each week plus all games) then she will be permitted to cheer as a “sideline only” cheerleader. She may be a sideline only cheerleader if she purchases a uniform attends enough practices and/or spends a sufficient amount of time outside practice to learn ALL sideline cheers that will be called at the game.
PERFORMANCE SQUAD CHEER
Due to COVID-19, we will not be holding tryouts. Instead, we are encouraging all parents and their children to spend time discussing the attached contract, which includes all expectations, consequences, and related commitment requirements for the performance squad. IF you and your family are able and willing to make this commitment and accept the consequences, then your daughter will be permitted to cheer on the performance squad without any tryouts. Your daughter will need to spend time in the summer to prepare for the performance squad, as this team will require heightened skill, endurance, flexibility and general cheer ability and knowledge. You will be sent information regarding workouts once you have registered.
PEP SQUAD CHEER
This is a great option for girls who still want to cheer and share school spirit, but don’t have the time to commit to Performance Squad. This option provides less intensity and less time commitment as well as less cost. These girls will have weekly practices with volunteer coaches and will be able to cheer at a minimum of one quarter per game at Varsity Football games. Pep Squad will have its own uniform.
In an effort to make sure we are not asking our families to outlay money on cheer until we know our fall athletic schedules, we are pushing registration towards the end of this school year. We have also decided to push all the costs associated with cheer uniforms to August, which will result in a modified cheer uniform and costs will be much less. Because we are really not sure what athletics looks like this fall, I would not want to have our families order cheer uniforms, spend a great deal of money and not be able to wear them should our football schedule be altered. Kelly Orlando and I know we can put together a uniform that will work for the 2020 fall season!
Thank you for your patience and understanding. As soon as I know more regarding what 2020 Fall DPL looks like, we will move accordingly. In the meantime, please have you girls take a look at the Wildcat Wellness from this past week’s WAAG. Kelly Orlando submitted a good cheer workout!
I have also attached the Slide Show from our cheer presentation as well as the commitment form for those interested in the performance squad! Nothing needs to be done now, just wanted everyone to have the information.
Wildcat Uniform Return – Drive Thru Edition
I have received several emails regarding returning your student-athletes STA Athletic Uniforms. Before spring break, I gave all 5th -8th grade softball and baseball players their jerseys. I need to get these returned, so I am asking the following:
- Gather your child’s STA jersey and put it in a baggie with your name on the outside.
- Drop the bagged jersey in the box labeled STA SPORTS UNIFORM RETURN in the circle drive of at the gym entry. The gate that goes to the US gym will be open in order that you can “drive by and drop!”
- This drive through begins tomorrow, Tuesday April 21st through Thursday, April 23rd.
Also, if you have located ANY OTHER STA Uniforms, please feel free to drop these as well.
2020 Football Pre-Season
As of now, I have not received any information regarding the 2020 DPL Football season. Our STA Football coaches are ready to get back on the field. That being said, as of now, our summer workouts are penciled in to begin the week of July 20th. Football Registration will be sent once we get more information regarding our 2020 Fall DPL Season.
In the meantime, please have your boys take a look at some of the Wildcat Wellness workouts Coach Cervantes has submitted for the Weekly WAAG to work on as we shelter in place!
Wishing all our Wildcat families a great week and praying for patience and healing for everyone.
All my best,
STA Athletic Director
Dear St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School Parents,
It’s been exactly five weeks since we picked up our kiddos from school and headed into Spring Break not knowing what unprecedented challenges lay ahead. Now, four weeks into this uncharted territory of Distance Learning, the St. Thomas Aquinas School Advisory Council (SAC) would like to take some time to reflect on how far we’ve come in this unexpected transition to this new learning platform for our students.
To begin, we would like to express our sincere appreciation and admiration to the STA administration, teachers, and staff for their quick response and pivot to a system that was likely not even in the mind’s eye just a couple of months ago. We are not surprised but are incredibly thankful that, because of their dedication to our school, these devoted members of our school community worked diligently during their Spring Break to pack boxes, pass out materials, and prepare the Phase 1 review materials to ensure our children would be able to immediately continue their education.
Now that we are further immersed into the Distance Learning process, we continue to see innovative approaches to delivering new learning, including instructional videos on Moodle, live Zoom lesson instruction, and FlipGrid video uploads to help not just with education but connection to the community that we all love so much. Our impressive administration, staff, and teaching team continue to learn new techniques to help the continued education of our children.
We also thank Fr. John, Fr. James, and our wonderful Deacons for continuing to support our school community in addition to our faith community. Their daily recorded Masses, Livestream Sunday Masses, and the reflections which they have provided via the St. Thomas Aquinas Church Facebook page provide messages of hope and peace while recognizing the stresses that the COVID-19 world has brought upon us. But above all, they help us to feel connected to our Creator, to each other, and to a purpose in all of this. We look forward to continuing our practice of faith as an anchor in this storm.
And finally, we certainly cannot leave out recognition for our STA parent community who are facing an ever-changing reality of trying to balance school, work, and this “new normal” life. We applaud our fellow parents for their work keeping children current with assignments while guiding them through the unknown. While the lack of activities and places to go and the cancellation or postponement of vacations or milestone events is disappointing, we hope that it leaves more time spent together outside, around the dinner table, or learning new things. But if some days it just leaves more time spent with the Nintendo Switch, well, then that’s ok too! We hope that you give yourselves some grace as well.
We are all facing this historic experience together. Everyone, including students, parents, teachers, and staff, is struggling while navigating these uncharted waters. With this in mind, let us strive to exhibit the patience, kindness, and community that is indicative of the STA community. We are all a work in progress, learning new techniques daily and there is improvement and a bit more normalcy to our “new normal” with each day and week that pass. We trust that this is a temporary (albeit stressful) situation, but our school intends to continue the tenets of “Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed” during this time. Whether our children strive or struggle through this time, the STA School family is committed to meeting them where they are whenever it is that we are allowed to come back together
The SAC continues to meet monthly through Zoom meetings with Fr. John, Fr. James, Dr. Magee, Jen Watts, Lauren Roberts, Leslie Reeves and other members of the staff and administration such that we can have an honest dialogue about the success and wellbeing of our students and community. Should you have any concerns that you would like to voice, they are always willing to listen and you may reach out to them directly or to any member of the SAC. Likewise, if you are feeling overwhelmed by any aspect of this situation, please do not hesitate to reach out for help from our awesome teachers or staff, the SAC, and each other. Our school counselors, Padmini Dayal and Amy Miller are also here to help us parents and our children to cope as well as possible during this time. Even though we are all separated, we are not alone in this trial, and together we will help each other succeed.
Please pray for all those ill with COVID-19 and for the first responders and healthcare workers caring for these patients, as well as for all of the essential workers putting themselves at risk to ensure that we are able to stay home and stay well.
Thank you for your trust in our administrators, teachers, school leaders, and this community as we navigate this extraordinary time together.
St. Thomas Aquinas School Advisory Council (2019-2020)
Kyley Harvey Mark Dufilho Mitch Paradise
Nicole Little Dean Galvin Dionne Rainey
Jim Thomas Todd Kirby
Jyothi Titus Trey Schroeder
Attached is a letter from the CSO superintendent Dr. Matt Vereecke with information for you on Bishop Burn's announcement earlier today that our diocesan schools will continue to be closed through May 1, 2020. This extension coincides with Governor Greg Abbott's statewide executive order issued today.
Please know that our teachers are working diligently this week to provide engaging and interactive lessons for your children beginning Monday, April 6 and will continue until we can return to campus. You will receive an email from Andrew Price, our Instructional Technology Specialist, this afternoon with more information on the next phase of our distance learning program, including the use of Zoom for direct and interactive instruction.
In the meantime, continue to check the parents' page on the website at www.staschool.org/parents to access the attendance form, Moodle, Classlink, information from our counselors, and our daily prayer. Feel free to reach out to your child's teachers, our principals, or me if you have any questions.
Dr. Patrick Magee
Dear STA Parents,
Like so many schools around the country, we will begin our transition to distance learning tomorrow. Thank you for picking up supplies on Saturday, and a huge thank you to FOSTA and my staff for executing a challenging project seamlessly.
Distance learning is a brave new world for all of us – one we’ve entered with little warning. This is one of the most novel – and disruptive – things about life in this pandemic culture: parents and children are forced to adjust to a new rhythm of school and work from home. I know you may have many questions about academics, attendance, technology, and grades.
But allow me to share a few thoughts which I believe supersede academics:
Our kids are just as scared as we are right now. They see and hear everything that is going on and feel the constant anxiety and tension that we are all experiencing. Remember, they have never experienced anything like this before. In the coming weeks, you may see an increase in behavioral issues, either in opposition, meltdowns, or tantrums. This is normal and can be expected. Perhaps from a child’s perspective, the initial thought of having unexpected time off from school sounds amazing, the reality of the situation of not seeing friends and being isolated will be difficult for them.
So please, love and comfort your children. It is what they need now more than anything. Assure them that it’s all going to be fine and we will get through this together. This may mean that you evaluate your schedules. While “school time” is very important, so is taking a walk, baking cookies, or watching movies together.
Please do not worry about your children regressing in school. Everyone in our community is in the same boat. When we go back to Kenwood Avenue or Mockingbird Lane, we will meet every child wherever they are! STA teachers are the best, and this is what they do.
I firmly believe that your child’s mental health is more important than their academic progress over the next few weeks. Distance Learning should come second to their health and welfare. We’re here to support you!
Dear STA Families,
Following the executive order issued by Governor Greg Abbott, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School will be closed through April 3, 2020. This includes all activities on campus, including the use of the gymnasiums, playgrounds, and athletic fields. We have updated our distance learning plan to reflect the change in date and are working on the delivery of new content material if the school continues to stay closed in April.
Today, the teachers and staff packed up books and belongings from student lockers and cubbies on both campuses. We will be passing these boxes out carpool-style on Saturday, March 21, beginning at 8 AM at the Lower School and 10 AM at the Upper School through the front Upper School carpool line. All the details will be posted in the Week at a Glance tomorrow, including pick-up date and time for those still out of town.
Please read your Week At A Glance each Friday. That is where we will communicate most of the information about calendar and activity changes, cancellations, and postponements. We are also working diligently to reorganize the Parents tab on the website, adding more resources and information for you as it becomes available.
We understand everyone is adapting to a new normal at home. Teachers and administrators will be available beginning Monday morning via email to help as we navigate this together. Again, we are very thankful for our STA community and pray for the continued good health of all our students and their families.
Dr. Patrick Magee
Dear St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School Families,
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the PEACE of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7
First and foremost, we hope you have had some downtime to focus on your health and the health of your family. It is hard to believe how fast everything revolving around this current situation is evolving.
I wanted to let you know we are working diligently behind the scenes to deliver impactful instruction during our closure, however long that will be. I promise we are doing our very best in this unchartered territory. I humbly ask for your patience and support as we begin to deliver instruction electronically.
We are about to embark on a very different educational journey. Our current plan for using Moodle as our Distance Learning platform is well organized and will meet our needs for the initial rollout of “e-learning” starting Monday.
Before Spring Break, all teachers prepared two weeks of online review lessons in the event of a temporary school closure. These lessons will keep students engaged in study while we finalize plans for conducting classes online, if and when needed. Teachers are currently training to develop pre-recorded video lesson plans and activities to cover the standards and objectives not yet taught. The administration is meeting daily to finalize procedures for instruction, student practice, assessment, and communications with teachers.
The Distance Learning lessons will be open and available on Monday, March 23rd, on our Learning Management System, Moodle, which can be found using this link. You may also access the Moodle page from the Parents tab on the school website.
When students go to the Moodle page, they should click on the blue words “Distance Learning” to see grade- level activities, folders, and links. Students in PK-5th may download and print documents to complete or record answers on notebook paper with the assignment’s title. The process for turning in work will be communicated to parents next week. Middle School students are familiar with submitting work online and should follow the directions in the assignments for turning in completed work.
If you are having trouble accessing Moodle or have technology-related questions, please email Leslie Reeves for PK – 2nd at email@example.com and Andrew Price for 3rd – 8th grade at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your teachers will be available by email beginning Monday during school hours.
Additionally, we are in the process of finalizing a locker/desk items pick-up plan. I have ordered enough boxes for the entire school student body. We will pack up all student books and belongings, and distribute the items via a carline, similar to a grocery pick-up line. Our goal is to have times and locations confirmed and communicated to you by early next week. Again, I want to reiterate that the lessons posted on Moodle for Monday are review, not new content.
Please continue to adhere to preventative measures as recommended by public health officials. We pray that the peace of Jesus enters our hearts during this trying and stressful time. Thank you for your continued cooperation and flexibility as we navigate this together.
Dr. Patrick Magee
Dear STA Families,
As we continue to receive more information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. State Department, and Dallas County officials, our response to how we can ensure the safety and well-being of our community also continues to evolve.
We have decided to transition to a distance learning environment for Monday, March 23 - Friday, March 27, 2020. No activities will take place at either campus during this time, including DPL sports, field trips, meetings, or programs. A decision for all scheduled events beyond March 27 will be determined at a later time.
This was a decision also made by the leaders at St. Monica, St. Rita, Christ the King, and Jesuit. We all recognize the burden that this potentially places on our families. The goal is to minimize the need to gather in large groups and spend prolonged time near one another. Our actions are consistent with the recommendations of leading health officials on how to limit the spread of COVID-19.
An email will be sent with more detailed information about distance learning, and access to the distance learning modules on Moodle will be available at the end of next week. Please try to enjoy time with your family next week, whether you are here or traveling.
Again, we appreciate your flexibility and cooperation at this time. Please know that we continue to keep the nation and everyone affected by COVID-19 in our prayers.
Patrick Magee, Lauren Roberts, and Jen Watts
Dear STA Families,
Just a couple of updates today as we head out for the Spring Break holiday.
In the event of school closure immediately after Spring Break, we will send a detailed email with instructions on how to access and navigate our distance learning contingency plan. This email will contain all the information you will need. Our teachers are prepared to begin distance learning should this plan be activated, and families will be able to access assignments and recommended learning resources through Moodle.
Student Support and Communication
Faculty and staff are here to support our students and their families during this ever-evolving situation. We appreciate the importance of open lines of communication. Send your questions or concerns to:
Information will be communicated to our families as soon as it becomes available. Communication regarding any change to the school schedule will be delivered to the community via our emergency text/email blasts.
Spring Break Travel
Last week we asked that you inform us of your travel plans by completing this online travel reporting form. If you have previously completed the form but have since changed your plans and will not be traveling, please complete the form again using the dates of Spring Break and indicate your change in plans in the destinations box. Again, consistent with CDC recommendations, students, faculty and staff, and their immediate close contacts who are traveling on a cruise and to areas designated as a Level 2 (Alert) or Level 3 (Warning) will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days upon return from travel.
Access the travel survey here: https://www.staschool.org/travelsurvey
This uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 is an ever-evolving situation. Working together as a community of faith and learning, we will be able to journey through these upcoming days and weeks in a spirit of flexibility and partnership. Please join us in praying for all those affected by this health crisis.
Patrick Magee, Jen Watts, Lauren Roberts
Dear STA Community,
I want to reach out to update you on the current situation concerning the coronavirus (COVID-19) and our school. We are aware that St. Rita and Ursuline have closed for the rest of the week. At this time, we have no information that would indicate our school needs to close. Because this remains an evolving situation, we will continue to keep you informed regarding changes in policy and procedures pertaining to our school based on directives from our local health departments, the CDC, and the Diocese, including a potential closure of our school.
In the case of extended school closure, we do have distance learning plans prepared for our students. These activities will be made public and accessed through our online learning platform, Moodle, at the time of closure.
Spring Break is next week, and we know many of our families are planning to travel domestically and abroad. At this time, we do not intend to enforce quarantines for families traveling over the break, but we do ask that you self-quarantine, according to CDC travel guidelines. These guidelines recommend a quarantine period of 14 days from the time an individual leaves an area with widespread or ongoing community spread (Level 2 and 3 Travel Health Notice).
Please know that if at any time you feel your child(ren) needs to stay home for an extended period, we will work with each family to resolve any attendance issues due to self-quarantine.
As we stated on Monday (see attached email), the following preventative actions reduce the spread of any respiratory virus:
- Keep your children home if they are sick. We will send students home when exhibiting signs of illness. Pick up your child promptly and follow the guidelines for determining when they can come back to school.
- Encourage frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Remember that hand washing is the most reliable way to prevent the spread of disease.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; germs spread this way.•
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve (not your hands).
- Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces using regular household cleaning spray or wipes.
We also encourage all parents to monitor the CDC and Texas Department of Health and Human Services websites as they provide the most up-to-date information.
Thank you for your continued cooperation as we prioritize the safety of our students, faculty, and staff. We continue to offer our most heartfelt prayers to those who have been severely impacted by COVID-19. Stay healthy and have a relaxing Spring Break.
We want to update you on the status of STA as it pertains to coronavirus (COVID-19). We are planning to finish out the week of school tomorrow with our normally scheduled half day, as we are not aware of nor have there been any confirmed cases of coronavirus at or connected to the STA community.
We will remain in consistent communication with the Diocese of Dallas Catholic Schools Office and the Dallas County Health Department as well as continue reviewing the recommendations from the CDC guidelines as we monitor all aspects of the COVID-19 situation and will update you on any implications to student learning beyond Spring Break.
The Diocese has created a webpage that you can monitor at www.csodallas.org/precautions. Also, we also have included an attachment our counselors have found useful about how to talk to kids about the coronavirus for your reference.
We continue to keep all who have been impacted by COVID-19 in our prayers.
Patrick Magee, Jen Watts, and Lauren Roberts
PLEASE NOTE: The details on this page are subject to change as directives are provided by governing authorities and/or health officials or as environmental conditions change. Please check back for the latest accurate information.