March 26, 2020
Dear Joplin Area Catholic Schools Staff and Families,
Thank you for the time and effort you have dedicated in partnering to provide an excellent Catholic education for JACS students. We are truly blessed to have each of you as part of the JACS family and for being a living example of the Christian values we share daily with our students. In the JACS system, the partnership between schools and families is strong and committed to our mission. In this letter, I would like to provide you with several important details, so even though the letter is lengthy, please take a few minutes to read through it to the end.
As you are aware, the Covid-19 pandemic is causing hardships on many levels. In our JACS family, we have families that are facing one or more of the following:
- Loss of employment
- Reduction in income
- Need for food or other items
- Friends or family affected by the virus or endangered due to compromised health conditions
- Loss of and/or need for child care
- Additional hardships such as emotional, psychological, financial, physical challenges
- Other family hardships.
Joplin Area Catholic Schools understands that this is an uncertain time for our students, families, and communities, but we remain focused on protecting the safety and well-being of students, staff, and families. We are committed to supporting our students and their families as we work through this challenging time together. A major change in routine can be stressful and often leads to fear and anxiety for many students. Practicing appropriate self-care is vitally important to a student’s emotional and mental health. To reduce stress and anxiety, it is important to create a schedule for learning time and relaxing or fun family activities. Please communicate with others about challenges you are facing!
The extended closure of schools through April 24 announced yesterday impacts all extra and co-curricular activities, events, practices, and before or after school programs. All buildings remain closed to the public and nonessential personnel. To support students and prevent a gap in learning due to the extended wellness break, St. Mary’s, St. Peter’s, and McAuley are providing various resources for students at ALL levels and parents, which include online access and printed materials. Resources are provided to enhance or continue learning already achieved in the classroom. These activities are recommended to keep students strong mentally, physically and emotionally. Building principals and teachers will continue to reach out to families and are available for questions and guidance. Please check your emails as well as the JACS website, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram accounts for updates, information, and resources.
Following are modifications to our enrollment process for the upcoming school year. The enrollment deadline was initially set for April 1, but with many of our parents regrouping to different work schedules and environments, we will extend the deadline an additional week to April 8. At this time, we are asking for your help to complete this process as soon as possible in order to plan for the coming school year. Each year is different, and this year is no exception. Below are some things to keep in mind:
- The contracts do not require two signatures this year
- For parish members, the Parish Approval Code form pre-populates with last year’s code. Each form is verified before the contract is processed, so please disregard the number in the field and enter the correct number.
- To obtain your Parish Approval Code-the process for each parish has changed slightly in order to ensure the safety of all-
- St. Mary-stewardship commitment forms were mailed to each parishioner at the end of February. Fr. Joe asks that completed forms be mailed to the parish office or dropped off in the container outside of the office doors. The parish will then notify you of your parish code.
- St. Peter-Please call the parish office to receive your stewardship commitment form by email. Once completed, this form can be mailed in or dropped in the mail slot of the front door of the rectory. Parish codes will be given out via email or phone on Mondays and Thursdays.
- Sacred Heart-Fr. Paco asks that parishioners call the parish office 417-673-2044 between the hours of 8:30-1:30 Monday-Thursday to schedule a time to pick up the parish code.
- Keep in mind that parishes offices are typically closed on FRIDAY
- If for any reason, you cannot complete enrollment at this time due to unforeseen circumstances, please let the JACS Business Office know explaining your situation via email to Renee Motazedi at firstname.lastname@example.org before the enrollment deadline of April 8. The JACS Business Office will not have office hours until further notice.
- Instructions for enrollment were sent on March 2nd in two emails. Please refer to these emails for instructions.
- If finances are a barrier to re-enrollment, please let us know so that we can work with you and the parish and our resources to assist your family.
For reassurance, our staff payroll and benefits will continue as normal through the remainder of this school year. We plan to offer teacher contracts as normal on April 15, due back by April 30. For now, we are maintaining the 2% raise to the salary base that was approved at the February Board meeting.
AUCTION UPDATE: As of now, our spring Auction is on hold. We plan to resume planning and reschedule for a later date
On a personal note, as many of you know, Father J announced at the March 2 REACH Strategic Planning Convocation that JACS would begin the search for a new director. For various reasons I had not formally announced this news, but I would like to do so now. This was not a quick or easy decision, but as of you know, and as Father J announced, I committed to three years four years ago, and in this time, I have been blessed with eight MORE precious grandchildren. I told the Board in November that I was hoping to spend more time with my family, and now, with a PLAN in place for our system, along with some other factors very recently falling into place, I will be able to spend more time with my beautiful family and on our family farm. I am honored to have worked with so many dedicated to serving our Church and feel blessed to have developed many relationships among a family that my father, Louis Menapace, his six sisters, many cousins, my husband Mark and his siblings, and I, teaching at McAuley in 1979, have been a part of since the 1920’s (almost 100 years!) I am completely confident that our Catholic school system is in excellent shape to move forward. We have a strong and successful past 135 years, and with a continued and even deeper commitment to and focus on our Catholic identity, I believe wholeheartedly that JACS will thrive and grow. Thank you so very much for everything!!!!! We will continue to… Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. (Isaiah 26:4)
Even though we are not physically attending Mass, please make a point to stay faithful to your financial stewardship commitment to your parish. Our parishes still must operate and pay bills. If this is not a possibility for you due to recent financial challenges, we urge you to contact your pastor.
Most importantly, PRAY. Pray for our school community, our Catholic community and community at large. Pray also for those who are ill or on the front lines caring for those afflicted with this terrible illness.
Please be assured of my utmost appreciation for your commitment to Catholic education and my prayerful support for you and your families during these uncertain times regarding the Covid-19 virus. As Christ often said, “Be not afraid!”
“I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
Georgiana L. McGriff, Director