February 1

Today, I share with the entire Saint Dominic Academy community the letter regarding on site instruction that was given to our parents and students last week. We ask for the continued prayers of all who love Saint Dominic Academy, as we work hard to continue to provide both remote and in person learning options for the young women under our care.

Thank you for being so understanding and cooperative this week as we once again navigated the ups and downs of the COVID-19 pandemic and its continual impact on our school community.  I had the opportunity to speak with some parents over the course of this week, and as always, I welcome the opportunity to talk with each and every one of you, should you ever wish to express your concerns and frustrations to me.

Every time I communicate with parents and students, I stress over and over again that the administration, faculty and staff of Saint Dominic Academy have been, from day one constantly committed to ensuring stellar education while at the same time keeping everyone in our “family” safe. That’s been quite a challenge from last March onward, and even when we make a decision we never consider it fully final—we are constantly re-evaluating and discussing the situations connected to our school, as we realize circumstances change quickly in the face of this pandemic.

The commitment to the health and safety of all truly extends to all—the dedicated and caring teachers who currently teach remotely for health reasons, those who are temporarily unable to with us due to quarantine or COVID recovery, and those who can be present on site, even if it’s at personal sacrifice—the inability to see family or friends due to their interactions at school. At all times, we are considering every single student under our care, those who wish to be remote and as well as those who wish to be in person, those who have the desire to participate in sports and those who chose to remain at home, relatively isolated until this pandemic is finally behind us.

I’ve made no secret of my disappointment in the fact that, in NJ, teachers are unable to be vaccinated as of yet. It’s a risk to their health when they enter the classroom—although we have taken every safety precaution and although we know you join with us in ensuring the young ladies take the necessary precautions as well, there is always a risk of exposure.  That said, our teachers, whether they are remote or able to be on-site, put the needs of our students first and foremost at all times.

It is in that vein that I am able to announce today that the administration has re-evaluated our remote learning status, and as of Monday February 8th, when  teachers who were quarantined are fully able to return, we will once again make an effort to have a hybrid learning option for those young ladies who wish to return to Saint Dominic Academy.  I know this news will please many of you and I am happy to be able to offer this in person learning option.  Students who wish to be remote may still opt to do so at any time, via an email to Mrs. Farrales ( gfarrales@stdominicacad.com) and those who wish to come off our remote list and return to hybrid can do so by also informing Mrs. Farrales.

Our commitment to returning to hybrid learning does not mean that we can 100% assure that we will be able to remain open at all times, for the duration of the school year. Our commitment to health and safety has not wavered and as such, if there is a need for quarantine, a need to re-evaluate the hybrid model due to rising numbers, or due to anticipated travel plans and higher risk of exposure after the Easter recess, we will do so.  Furthermore, as we move into the spring, the schedule may once again need to be adjusted, depending upon how the College Board plans to implement AP testing. I do have to ask for your cooperation and consideration in all of these situations, as they are yet unknown fully.

Teachers who are remote for health related reasons will continue to be remote until further notice. I ask that you please keep in mind that these men and women are fully dedicated to their roles as teachers; the only difference is where they are teaching. We have all, in our jobs and day to day activities had to be more understanding and accommodating from last March onward, and of course, we should all continue to do so.

Additionally, while we remain committed to our athletic program as well, it has been noted that more and more exposures in schools, especially colleges and universities, has come about due to athletics. While I do not ever want to even ponder the idea of not having athletics, I am going to ask our student athletes, parents, and our coaches to be even more diligent and take every single precaution to ensure that all rules are being followed at all times.  We must be very careful, especially as we are in the season of indoor sports right now.

In person learning on our hybrid schedule will commence on Monday, February 8th with our 10th and 12th grade students as well as our 8th grade, in the building. Please note, that Friday, February 12 and Monday February 15, Saint Dominic Academy is closed for President’s Day weekend.  In person learning on our hybrid schedule will commence for  our 9th and 11th grade students, as well as our 8th grade on Tuesday February 16th

If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call or email me. I ask for your continued prayers—as I said earlier in the week, this is not an easy time to be a student or a parent, nor is it an easy time to be a teacher, school staff member or a school administrator. We are doing the very best we can, in extremely challenging circumstances. Please, let us remember that and continue to be kind, respectful and pray for one another always.

Most sincerely,

Sarah Degnan Barbi

Head of School

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