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We look forward to seeing everyone back at school in the fall.  Please read updates about our plans below.  The health of everyone in our community is our primary concern, and it is crucial for all of us to do all we can to help limit transmission of COVID-19 and to keep our community safe.

TJ Response to COVID-19

 

The health of everyone in our community is our primary concern, and it is crucial for all of us to do all we can to help limit transmission of COVID-19 and to keep our community safe.  As circumstances evolve, we will provide updates here.  If you have questions or concerns related to the TJ Community, please send a note to contact@tjeffschool.org.  Check here for the latest official updates, and be sure you follow TJ on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

 

TJ COMMUNITY NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

5/15/2020: Update from TJ’s Head of School, Mrs. Laura McDonald:

Dear TJ Families,

As the school year draws to a close, I am amazed by what we have been able to accomplish as a community in the face of the unprecedented changes and challenges surrounding how we educate our students. With remarkable ingenuity and effort by all, our students and teachers continued in their learning and connected in new and creative ways. While TJ rose to the challenge with a stellar remote learning program, we are planning to be back together on the TJ campus in the fall.

With student contract deadlines approaching, I know that there are many questions and concerns about what next school year might look like. Please know that the administrative team, Board of Trustees, and faculty are working together to respond thoughtfully and diligently to evolving public health considerations so that we can welcome everyone back to a safe and vibrant campus this fall. To be fully prepared for the fall, we are not offering our Summer Discovery Academy. While we are all eager to “get back to normal,” we understand that there will be a new normal in place for the fall. The TJ facility can accommodate all our students and faculty while meeting the current social distancing guidelines. We are excited to reimagine classroom and learning spaces that allow for full engagement in the academic program in the context of the new normal.

During the summer, we will evaluate all aspects of the school experience so that we are prepared to deliver TJ’s academic excellence in a safe setting and in compliance with applicable local, state, and federal rules and guidelines. The health and safety of our community will be our highest priority. Our intention is to prepare for a return to campus in the fall, and using the lessons learned from our launch of remote learning, we expect to incorporate some of the innovative programming, flexibility, and opportunities for enhanced individualized learning afforded by our robust technology platform. We are also preparing for all eventualities should the need arise to shift seamlessly to a hybrid model or an enhanced version of the remote platform. Our goal is to continue to deliver the TJ curriculum, values, and mission, regardless of the circumstances.

We plan to work tirelessly during the summer months developing goals and strategies for the various scenarios we may face. To that end, our summer preparations will include the following:

  • Professional development for faculty and staff to take full advantage of the Blackbaud Learning Management System regardless of whether they engage with their students in person or online. Faculty will develop expertise in deploying effective and creative ways of reaching our students through new technologies that enhance delivery of the TJ curriculum.
  • Development of best practices for our facility management with the health and safety of our community a top priority, including enhanced sanitation practices to follow the most current CDC and other applicable guidelines, planning for community training, and procuring the necessary resources and supplies to implement these new processes.
  • Development of new ways to connect and coexist as a community while on campus even while social distancing, which means re-imagining lunch, recess, learning spaces, and hallway transitions, to name a few.

 

Thank you for your continued support of Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School. I look forward to welcoming our students back to campus in August. Please know that we will be flexible and adaptable in our planning and decision-making during the summer months as we continue to monitor and respond to national, state, and local public health conditions and guidelines. The health and safety of our community is paramount, and we will be fully prepared to educate our students and fulfill our mission no matter what we face in the fall. We will continue to communicate with you as the situation develops and as always, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.

With appreciation,

Laura McDonald
Head of School


4/16/2020: Message from TJ’s Head of School, Mrs. Laura McDonald:

Dear TJ Community,

After considerable thought and deliberation, TJ will extend remote learning through the end of the school year. This difficult decision was made in consultation with TJ’s Board of Trustees, and giving full weight to the recommendations made by local, state, and national officials. Nothing is more important than protecting the health and safety of the members of our school community, and we believe this to be the best and wisest path forward.

While we will finish the academic quarter remotely, we will continue to monitor the situation at both the local and state levels, and if it is safe to bring students and teachers back to campus later in May to engage in meaningful, yet limited, social gatherings, rites of passage, and traditions, especially for our seniors, we will try to do so. We also hope to offer our full summer school program, with the potential for additional courses and opportunities to allow for socialization, reinforcement, and enrichment. We want the students to be fully prepared to return in the fall academically, socially, and emotionally.

Academic excellence is the hallmark of a TJ education, and we will continue to deliver on our promise to offer the full scope of the TJ program and prepare students for the next level of their education. Our faculty members are dedicated and passionate educators who will continue to make your child a priority. I want to share my sincere appreciation for the energy and engagement of our students, and to you, our parents, for your continued support, understanding, and resiliency during this difficult time. I continue to be amazed and impressed by the work our faculty, students, and families are doing to create meaningful opportunities for our students to continue to grow and thrive.

As a community, we will reach the other side of this pandemic stronger than ever. Please know that you can reach out to me directly with your questions and concerns, or anyone on the faculty and staff for assistance or support. One thing is certain, on-campus learning at TJ will return, and it will be a moment of joy and celebration. In the meantime, we can hold fast to our shared mission, values, and commitment to the development and success of our students.

Sincerely,

Laura McDonald
Head of School


 

4/06/2020: Message from TJ’s Head of School, Mrs. Laura McDonald:

Dear Cavalier Community:

I hope you are all doing well and enjoying this time as a family. We miss all of you so much, and we can’t wait to see you back on campus soon. I want to begin by thanking everyone in the TJ community for their strength and support. We have done the unimaginable. In a matter of days, we were able to transition the TJ program to a remote format, get all books and supplies to our students, and begin learning on day one of our campus closure. While not perfect or ideal, I think we have truly risen to this challenge as a community, coming together for the benefit of our students. It reinforces the concept of community and the truly valuable partnership between teachers and parents that sets TJ apart. We could not deliver our program remotely without the substantial efforts taking place at home. We want to sincerely thank you for your engagement and initiative during this process.

As we move forward, there is still uncertainty. We hope we will be able to gather on campus soon, but this is a decision that we are taking day by day, and week by week. Your health and safety are our number one priority. With each day that passes, however, we know we are that much closer to seeing everyone again. We look forward with great anticipation to that day. In the meantime, we want to ensure that our students are prepared for the academic program that awaits in the fall, and for our Upper School students, that is especially important. We are forging ahead with AP courses and college decisions. In the midst of the disheartening news we see each day, we have reason to celebrate as our seniors have received acceptances from a number of colleges and universities over the last couple of weeks, including Case Western Reserve, Grinnell College, Kenyon College, Washington University in St. Louis, Bates College, the UMKC 6-year Medical School program, and Northeastern University, to name a few. They look forward with anticipation to the fall when they arrive on college campuses across the country fully prepared to embrace what comes next because of their time at TJ.

We know that our decision to close the campus is challenging for families, and we want to continue to support you in whatever way we can. We know that even greater challenges may lie ahead, and it is my hope that we will continue to come together as a community to support and embrace one another. Many parents in our school community are health care professionals on the front lines of this global health crisis, and we thank them for the sacrifices they are making to keep the rest of us healthy and safe. We are grateful for each and every family in the TJ community, and for the hope, strength, resiliency, and compassion you have all shown already. We will make it through this together.

Sincerely,

Laura McDonald
Head of School


3/30/2020: Message from TJ’s Head of School, Mrs. Laura McDonald:

Dear TJ Community:

Thank you all for your support and understanding during this challenging time. While we have been unable to gather as a school community on campus, I have been amazed at what we have been able to accomplish remotely. In a matter of days, our community has been able to launch a robust and effective remote learning platform and have full student engagement from Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade. Students are meeting face to face as classes, faculty and administrators are meeting via Zoom to stay connected and share ideas and successes, and I hope all of our parents are staying connected with each other as well. Please join me in a special thanks to Mr. Robert Carlson, the entire administrative team, and all our faculty and staff for their commitment to the education of our students!

Along with all of you, we are watching as this pandemic evolves at the local, state, national, and global levels. As a school community, we must do our part to slow the spread of the virus by practicing social distancing. At this time, we have decided to extend remote learning until April 20th. We will continue to closely watch developments and make wise decisions about the safest time to return to campus for the health of our school and local community.

In the meantime, we will continue to develop ways to keep our school community connected while we are away from campus so that all of you can engage with classmates, friends, and teachers in new and creative ways. The entire administrative team, faculty, and staff want to support you in this endeavor to foster the meaningful connections we have built with our students this school year. Please reach out if there is anything I can do for you during this time. I still have an “open door” policy, and I would welcome a chance to connect over email, phone, or through a virtual face to face meeting.

Sincerely,

Laura McDonald
Head of School

 


 

3/22/2020: TJ class supplies pick-up for parents with students in grades Pre-K through 5:

Early Childhood and Lower School:

Families with children in grades Pre-K through 5 will be able to pick up their supplies TOMORROW between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.  We previously planned to have a second day for pickup, but with the rapidly-evolving guidance from local and state health agencies, we consolidated the schedule to one day only.   We want to be sure all of our Early Childhood and Lower School students get the materials they need for remote learning.  Students and parents will not enter the building, but will pull up to the front doors and receive supplies at their vehicle.

In order to help protect other families – and our faculty — parents who fall under the following quarantine guidelines may not come to the supplies pickup event tomorrow:

  • If your family traveled abroad during the break, and returned within the past 14 days.
  • If you traveled domestically, on an airplane, in large metropolitan areas, or in any area with confirmed cases, and returned home within the last 7 days.
  • If you (or any member of your immediate family or person with whom you have had close contact such as a caregiver) has been diagnosed with, exposed to, or has restrictions from a medical care provider related to COVID-19 or other communicable diseases.

If you are unable to come to the school because you are out of town, or are following TJ’s quarantine guidelines, please send a note to contact@tjeffschool.org to schedule another day (or make other arrangements) for supplies pick-up.

 


 

3/19/2019:  Classes resume Monday for all TJ students via new Learning Management System

Students and teachers will reconnect Monday through a new online portal that will serve as the main hub for student learning.
While our campus is closed until April 3, our talented and creative faculty and staff fully intend to deliver the TJ curriculum to students in all grade levels via our new online platform. We’re doing our part to help keep members of our community safe during these uncertain times, and the faculty has been working hard through the spring break to transform the lessons they planned to teach in the classroom to lessons that can be learned remotely. We understand that many parents have questions about the logistics of this remote learning platform, and we are writing to let you know what to expect next week.
Nearly every day, we hear of “unprecedented” developments in the world around us. Moving the TJ program to a distance learning platform is certainly unprecedented, but you can rest assured that we will maintain the high-quality college-prep liberal arts program you have come to expect. The new system is designed specifically for delivering curriculum at independent schools and universities, and our faculty has been exceedingly creative in using its features to keep your children engaged in learning over the coming weeks. The new system is a place where students will go to connect with their teachers and classmates in a virtual environment, and where they will participate in lessons, complete assignments, and receive feedback. While the students will use the new TJ Portal as an interactive hub for turning in assignments, completing interactive activities, and participating in video conferences and discussions, they will also do much of their learning away from the computer screen.
On Monday morning, we will send a message to all parents and students with information about logging in to the new TJ Portal. You and your students do not need to do anything in the interim except develop a plan for students to have a computer available that is connected to the Internet for at least a portion of every weekday. Monday will be similar to our registration day (prior to the first day of every school year). Students and parents will log in to the system for the first time, read messages from teachers, and receive their first assignments. Middle and Upper School students will have their own login credentials, and will be interacting with their teachers and classmates directly via the portal. Parents will have access to monitor student progress. Students in grades Pre-K through 5 will need initial assistance from their parents to get into the portal and learn to navigate the activities. Once you have logged in to the TJ Portal, you will receive info from your child’s teachers about how the classes will progress. We will be available to help families overcome any technical challenges, and your child’s teachers are always happy to answer any questions you have about the curriculum.
Be sure to check our updates below regarding Pre-K through 5th Grade supplies pickup on Monday and Tuesday.
We look forward to reconnecting with you and your children starting on Monday.

 


3/18/2020: Student Access to TJ for Supplies Pick-up:

To prepare for our upcoming remote learning, students will have access to the school building according to the schedule below:

Middle and Upper School:

Students will be provided access to the school building tomorrow and Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Families should pull up to the front entrance, and drop students off at the front door.  Students may only enter the building through the front door, and we will allow up to 10 students in the building at a time.  They will be able to get items from their lockers, collect music instruments, and get books and other class materials for 4th quarter from the tables inside the front doors.

Early Childhood and Lower School:

Families with children in grades Pre-K through 5 will have access to their supplies on Monday (updated on 3/22/2020 to remove “and Tuesday”) between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Students and parents will not enter the building, but will pull up to the front doors and receive supplies at their vehicle.

If you are unable to come to the school because you are out of town, or are following TJ’s quarantine guidelines, please send a note to contact@tjeffschool.org to schedule another day (or make other arrangements) for supplies pick-up.  We will share information in the coming days about our remote learning platform, so please watch your e-mail for updates.

 


 

3/17/2020: Message from TJ’s Head of School, Mrs. Laura McDonald:

Dear TJ Community,

After consulting with the Jasper County Health Department, all other area public and private school superintendents, and our accrediting body, the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS), we have decided to transition to a distance learning model from March 23rd-April 3rd. The health and safety of our students, families, faculty, and entire school community is our top priority, and this campus closure will help keep everyone in our community safe and healthy. We will follow up this evening with a more detailed correspondence. We understand that this has a significant impact on the families in our school community, and our administrative team is working thoughtfully to develop plans for the coming weeks. As we finalize those plans, we will post updates on the COVID-19 page on the TJ website frequently, and if you have any questions, please contact us at contact@tjeffschool.org.

Laura McDonald
Head of School


 

3/12/2020: Announcement from the TJ Head of School regarding Coronavirus

Dear TJ Community:

Information about the spread, impact, and recommendations for responses to coronavirus are evolving rapidly.  We are closely monitoring the situation, especially all information and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”), as well as local and national news to better understand the risk and ramifications for our community.  The health and safety of our students, families, faculty, and entire school community is our top priority.

While TJ is out of session for Spring Break:

  •  DEEP CLEAN OF TJ FACILITIES: We will perform a deep cleaning and disinfecting of the school building. During this time the building will be closed to everyone except janitorial service providers and the administrative staff.
  • PREPARATION: We will develop and execute a plan for the implications of a COVID-19 outbreak to try to minimize potential spread of the virus and risk to the community while continuing effective delivery of our academic program.   As the situation unfolds, we will follow the CDC and state and local health departments lead on advisable measures.

 

After Spring Break:

  •  REGULAR DISINFECTING PROCEDURES: We will continue to implement disinfecting procedures, including regularly wiping down and sanitizing surfaces and areas of high contact.
  • HYGIENE EDUCATION: Faculty will emphasize the importance of frequent and thorough hand washing and the proper etiquette to address coughing and sneezing, in addition to setting aside intentional times for students to engage in personal hygiene practices during the school day.
  • STRICT ENFORCEMENT OF SCHOOL ILLNESS POLICY: The TJ Student Handbook states that if your child is ill, he or she must be 24-hours fever-free without medication, and must be vomit-free for 24-hours before he or she is able to return to school. You must keep your sick children home until any illness is completely cleared up.
  • MODIFICATIONS TO PROCEDURES:  We will modify our instructional program to minimize the risk of spreading infection, including limiting access to the school by non-community members and limiting group gatherings.

 

Additional health mandates for families who have traveled:

  • If your family traveled abroad during the break, YOU MAY NOT come back to campus for 14 days upon arrival back at home.
  • If you traveled domestically, on an airplane, in large metropolitan areas, or in any area with confirmed cases, YOU MAY NOT return to school for 7 days upon arrival back at home.
  • If you (or any member of your immediate family or person with whom you have had close contact such as a caregiver) has been diagnosed with, have been exposed to, or have restrictions from your medical provider related to COVID-19 or other communicable diseases, YOU MUST contact the front office.

 

For the health and safety of our entire community, please keep your children home if you fall into any of the categories above.  The absences will be excused, and we will make every effort to provide missed material and instruction during their absence. 

TJ faculty members are to eliminate any non-essential travel during the break and to follow the same precautions listed above.  We plan to be back in session on Monday, March 23rd, and these precautions with our faculty will enable us to deliver instruction without disruption.

As mentioned at the beginning of this letter, the conditions and information surrounding the virus are constantly evolving, and as such, we will continue to communicate with all of you as our plans change as a result.  Please continue to monitor conditions and updates from reputable sources as they evolve.  If you have questions in the meantime, please email us at contact@tjeffschool.org.

Sincerely,

Laura McDonald

Head of School

 


Information on Spring MSHSAA Activities and Sports:

March 16, 2020 News Release from MSHSAA: Columbia, Mo.- The Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) has been, and continues to be, in communication with the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education, the Governor’s office, state and local health officials and organizations, as well as other high school associations in the Midwest. The Association will continue to review the medical guidance of the CDC, and all breaking information regarding COVID-19 to make the best decision possible with the information available to us.  “As of today, the CDC has recommended that for the next eight weeks organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the U.S.,” said Dr. Kerwin Urhahn, MSHSAA Executive Director. “Many of the host venues and facilities for our events are connected with colleges and universities that are closing their campuses. These issues directly and wholly affect MSHSAA districts and state series events.”

Read the full MSHSAA Release regarding music, speech & debate, scholar bowl, and athletics here.

 


Announcement from the TJ Athletic Director regarding spring break sports practices – March 13, 2020:

Effective Immediately – All Thomas Jefferson Spring Sports (Golf, Boys Tennis, Track & Filed) practices will be cancelled until we return to school on Monday, March 23.   This will cause us to make some changes to the early portion of our Spring schedules, as athletes will still be required to complete the 14 practice requirement. Those schedule changes will be communicated as they are made.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Athletic Director Chris Myers at cmyers@tjeffschool.org

 


 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

PREPARATION FOR A MORE REMARKABLE JOURNEY

Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School delivers a rigorous liberal arts college preparatory curriculum in a supportive and nurturing environment.