July 1, 2022 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

St. Joseph Grade School updates parents on COVID concerns

Fifty-five students from St. Joseph Grade School are in quarantine for exposure to COVID-19.


Forty-two of those students are related to an incident at Prince of Peace Early Learning Center.


In an email sent to parents on Saturday St. Joseph Grade School Principal Michelle Wagner alerted parents to the situation.


“We were made aware that a significant number of children have been quarantined due to exposure/close contact with someone at Prince of Peace Early Learning Center,” Wagner said.


Currently, there are nine positive COVID-19 cases at St. Joseph Grade School.


St. Joseph Middle School has eight positive COVID-19 cases and 10 students in quarantine.


“You can see our numbers aren’t great by any means,” Superintendent Todd Pence said. “One thing I would stress is that if your child attends daycare before or after school, please make sure those provides are social distancing and masking up to the best of their abilities.”


Wagner said the students that are quarantined at the grade school are spread out amongst the grade school so no single class is completely quarantined.


“It doesn’t disrupt the classroom as much as it creates a hardship on the student and teacher,” Wagner said. “The student is missing quality instruction in the classroom and the teacher is having to find ways to keep the student from falling behind. We don’t have any “remote” teachers this year so the classroom teacher is trying to check in with the quarantined children after a full day with students.”


Wagner said tracking and record-keeping is a huge part of managing a quarantine this large. The school nurse, Katie May, and the office staff track cases and are responsible for the record-keeping. Wagner said answer parent emails and questions associated with the quarantine has been challenging.


“All weekend we didn’t have a lot of information but parents wanted to hear from us to find out the school impact–can they still attend, Can they test to stay, How will they get homework? How long do they have to be out,” Wagner said.


St. Joseph Grade School and Middle School have been in session since Aug. 17.


Wagner said it was amazing to have all the students back in the building and any first-day hurdles have been overcome.


“ The students were all happy to see their friends and teachers. Of course, our staff was so excited to be back. We were all hoping this would be more of a “normal” year but unfortunately, we are finding this variant is having quite an impact on student health and attendance. We are really being mindful of keeping students apart as much as possible,” she said.


Wagner said the staff is dealing with the quarantine in the best way they can and are prepared to teach whoever is in class each day.


“We are still working together to try to find a good balance and system for providing instruction for students who are out on quarantine,” she said. “Teachers want the students to get the best instruction possible but it is difficult to do when there is no time for remote sessions via Zoom or Google classroom during the day.”


Wagner urged parents to keep their children at home if they have any Covid symptoms.


“There isn’t much we can say or control once they are away from our building,” she said. “I just ask that parents support what we are doing each day–following the guidelines we are given from the state whether they agree or not. Our primary goal is always to keep everyone safe while they get an education here.”

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