Reopening Resources & FAQs
St. Francis Xavier and St. Joseph Schools are both eager to welcome students this fall for learning and growth back together on campus! Questions regarding the reopening process may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Guidance, updates and reflections regarding our safe return are added to this page as new information becomes available. Please check here periodically for updates on questions you may have regarding our return to school and the important work we are doing to keep our students and teachers safe.
FAQs for SJS & SFX Parents
HOW MANY STUDENTS WILL BE HOUSED IN A COHORT/CLASS?
The Archdiocese has shared that each cohort should be the size of a typical homeroom, with 25 or fewer students. For SFX and SJ, cohorts in Preschool through 4th Grade will not exceed 23 (and Preschool classes are typically smaller, between 12-20). The Archdiocese has also indicated that an entire grade level could form a cohort in the case of Middle School, for example. This is particularly helpful with differentiated math groups that would cross cohorts during math class. We have not made final decisions regarding Middle School cohorts on the St. Francis campus.
WILL SOCIAL DISTANCING (E.G., 6 FEET OF DISTANCE BETWEEN STUDENTS AND TEACHERS) BE MAINTAINED WHILE STUDENTS ARE IN THEIR CLASSROOMS WITH COHORTS?
The Archdiocesan cohort model is set up intentionally so that students spend the entire school day with their cohort in their assigned classroom and without interaction with other cohorts. With this cohort model in place, the Archdiocesan guidelines do not require a full 6 feet of distance between students unless they are passing students/teachers outside of their cohort; however, we will maintain as much distance as possible between desks, tables, etc. during students’ time together in their classroom.
ARE SFX AND SJ CURRENTLY ACCEPTING NEW STUDENTS, OR HAVE WE REACHED ENROLLMENT CAPACITY?
Yes, we are still accepting new students at SFX and SJ as space allows in each grade level. We are managing enrollment thoughtfully and purposefully with respect to each cohort and the availability of space they allow.
WILL THERE BE A PLATFORM TO CONNECT LIVE TEACHING WITH STUDENTS AT HOME (IF ILL OR QUARANTINED) SUCH A SWIVL? IS THIS AN OPTION, OR MUST STUDENTS BE ON CAMPUS/IN PERSON TO EXPERIENCE “LIVE” TEACHING?
Currently the Archdiocese does not allow for live streaming from our classrooms using tools such as “Swivl.” While students must attend in person to take part in a “live” classroom experience, our faculty is committed to ensuring that all students’ learning needs are met while at home during a quarantine period or due to illness.
IS IT POSSIBLE THAT GRADES OTHER THAN PRESCHOOL AND JR KINDERGARTEN MIGHT MOVE FROM SFX TO THE ST. JOSEPH CAMPUS?
Yes, moves incremental to Preschool and Jr Kindergarten may still be a possibility if they advance the interests of safety in health. As we finalize plans and match each grade level to classroom spaces, should health/wellness needs warrant more space on the SFX campus, additional grade levels might shift to SJ temporarily. At this time, however, we plan for only SFX 2 Year Old Preschool, 3 Year Old Preschool, and Jr Kindergarten classrooms to move to the St. Joseph campus
WHAT IS THE PROTOCOL OUR SCHOOLS WILL FOLLOW WITH REGARD TO QUARANTINES?
The Archdiocese has updated its guidance regarding Quarantine Protocol. Previously, schools were instructed to institute a cohort-wide quarantine after two confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported within a classroom. At this time, Archdiocesan schools are now instructed to move a cohort to quarantine after only one (the first) confirmed case. SFX and SJ will provide short-term remote learning when cohorts are quarantined for two week periods of time.
WHAT IS OUR POLICY REGARDING FAMILY TRAVEL?
Families are asked to refrain from travel as much as possible during the school year. Students are required to build in a two week quarantine period following ANY international travel OR travel to COVID hot spots within the U.S. (including during the month of August). Please pay particular attention to the travel restrictions that have been put in place by the Cook County Department of Public Health and the Chicago Emergency Travel Ban. It is important for all families who have visited COVID hot spots to be back in town and quarantine for the 14 days prior to the start of school. Families who travel late into August and whose quarantine will take them into the start of the school year should begin learning remotely at the start of the year and then join us in person on campus once they are clear. Please contact the school office and share any anticipated travel plans that conflict with the Chicago Emergency Travel Order in advance of the start of the year so that staff is aware of any absences/self-quarantining that will follow family travel.
IF A PARENT TRAVELS INTERNATIONALLY OR TO A STATE ON THE CHICAGO EMERGENCY TRAVEL BAN LIST DOES THEIR STUDENT NEED TO QUARANTINE?
At this time, the Archdiocese has confirmed that only those individuals who travel to “banned” COVID destinations must participate in quarantine. However, parents who must travel to such locations for work or for other important matters are strongly encouraged to take precautions at home to protect all other members of the household, including our students, following these trips.
WHAT IF A MEMBER OF A STUDENT’S HOUSEHOLD IS IN QUARANTINE DUE TO COVID EXPOSURE? IS THE STUDENT ALSO REQUIRED TO QUARANTINE?
As each case is unique, we strongly encourage families with a family member in quarantine due to possible COVID exposure to contact their primary care doctor with regard to recommendations for all family members. Ideally, a family in this situation will isolate the parent or sibling who has been exposed from all members of the household. Please share all information regarding possible exposure with the school office, including guidance provided by your doctor, if and when this situation emerges so that we can make an informed decision in the best interest of your child and his or her cohort.
DO WE MOVE TO REMOTE LEARNING IF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS MOVES BACK TO PHASE 3 OF RESTORE ILLINOIS?
Determining the impact of a Phase 3 transition on our Catholic schools is a complex issue. The schools of Saints JFX will defer to the guidance of the Governor and local health officials should we see a rise in COVID infections in Cook County and/or the state of Illinois.
HOW WILL MIDDLE SCHOOL COHORTS BE ORGANIZED AT SFX?
Students in grades 5-8 will be assigned to sections/homerooms as in past years, and each homeroom will serve as a student’s cohort. Cohorts will operate independently and will not connect with one another for learning, lunch or recess. We are developing a plan that maximizes the opportunity for differentiation that we demand for our students, especially in subjects like math, while still working within the limitations of the homeroom/cohort model. More information on this will follow soon.
HOW WILL WE GATHER AS A COMMUNITY?
Communities in Illinois are currently restricted to gatherings of 50 or less. With this in mind, and understanding that our priority is to establish the safest learning environment possible, SFX and SJ Schools will strictly adhere to state guidance and limit interactions between students to those within cohorts. We do not plan to host any gatherings that involve multiple cohorts. Athletic Director Rob Wennington will share updates soon regarding the recommendations of the IHSA and their impact on SFX Athletics. The HSO is also currently exploring ways to translate the important work of community building in new and COVID-safe ways. As safety guidelines evolve, we will explore how and when safe gatherings may begin to take shape on the Saints JFX campuses
CAN OUR SCHOOLS REQUIRE COVID TESTING FOR ALL STUDENTS AND FACULTY PRIOR TO THE START OF THE SCHOOL YEAR?
While mandatory testing is being implemented in some settings, and even many colleges, the Archdiocese of Chicago is not recommending mandatory testing for reopening. A significant hurdle to this approach is the fact that asymptomatic testing is not easily available for children. We are committed to screening of students by parents and school staff on a daily basis to maintain a safe school environment.
WHAT GUIDANCE DO YOU PROVIDE REGARDING PLAYDATES?
The CDC recognizes that this has been a stressful time for children and that socializing with peers is a healthy outlet for young people. However, group gatherings and playdates increase risk to our loved ones. The more people our children interact with, and the longer those interactions, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. SFX and SJ Schools encourage families to limit exposure to those children and adults within their cohort once school begins. Please avoid high risk social interaction by scheduling playdates infrequently with the same family and friends who are also practicing preventative measures (wearing masks), encouraging playtime outside in safe and socially distant ways whenever possible. To help children maintain social connections while social distancing, support your children in efforts to initiate supervised phone calls or video chats with their friends.
WHAT ARE WE DOING TO KEEP OUR TEACHERS SAFE?
St. Francis Xavier and St. Joseph Schools are committed to the safety of every teacher and student who joins us for in-person learning on our campuses. As families work to educate themselves regarding reopening, COVID, and safety, our faculty is also working closely with school administration, the Archdiocese, and the parent leaders on the Health and Safety Committee to understand the measures we will all be taking this fall to remain healthy. Faculty will spend time prior to reopening to reduce clutter and ensure spacing in classrooms, and to engage in professional development and training to provide tools that will keep them safe. Through required screening procedures, procurement of PPE, observation of social distancing, required mask use, and strict cohort organization, our schools are committed to a safe working and learning environment for our teachers. Ultimately, several faculty members may seek roles this school year that do not include in-person/in-classroom teaching due to unique health situations, just as several of our families will opt for remote learning to ensure the safety of household members who may be more at risk during this pandemic.
PLEASE CHECK BACK FREQUENTLY FOR MORE ANSWERED FAQs