When the Omicron variant was hitting the United States the hardest, most Saint James students were home for winter break. The return from break ended up being delayed after some students tested positive, with the school moving to virtual classes for two weeks. This allowed students time to quarantine at home after spending the holidays with family. Students who were distance boarders or on varsity sports teams were allowed to return to campus, but still attended classes virtually.
This minor setback meant that chapel was kept at limited attendance, with most students watching from their first period class. Lunch was also split into two seatings to allow for distancing at tables.
However, since January ended, we have been looking up! Saint James has followed the same trend as the rest of the country, with cases on the decline and restrictions easing. We returned to seated meals in February, initially with everyone getting their food in a buffet line and then eating together at their tables. However, we are now back to regular family-style meals with students waiting and faculty serving at the tables. We were also thrilled to return to regular chapel with full attendance, including one Eucharist on Wednesdays.
Perhaps most exciting is that we were able to go face mask optional after spring break. Students and faculty wore face masks for one week following their return as we monitored students for COVID symptoms, and then for the first time in two years, our community was able to go without face masks on campus. While we remain vigilant for symptoms, data on campus and in Washington County supported this decision. It has been wonderful to see so many smiles!
We are optimistic that these changes are here to stay as we take another step in returning to the traditional Saint James experience.