Caring during a Crisis: St. Joseph’s Response to COVID-19

Virtual story time is just one way we are staying in touch with students during the COVID-19 school closure.

The campus of St. Joseph’s Indian School has remained unusually quiet since March 6 when students returned home for Spring Break. Due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak, the students were not able to return to campus when planned.

President Mike Tyrell said this has been a strange and challenging time for the organization to have the students absent for over a month with school not returning until next school year.

“We greatly miss our students’ energy that infuses this campus and motivates our work. We are following the South Dakota Department of Education guidelines on school closure and hopeful that school will resume in the near future,” said Tyrell.

Operations areas of the organization are open and running including Corporate Services, Facilities, Development and Donor Care. Several safety precautions are taking place to adhere to the state recommendations and the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) guidelines. Employees continue to carry on the day-to-day work of making the mission happen while practicing the guidelines to social distance, keep group sizes small, regularly clean and disinfect surfaces and no public Mass.

Here is more information about what is going on across campus:

  • Teachers and school support staff are actively preparing and mailing packets of homework to our students and are also exploring video formats to make connections with students and their families. They are creating fun and interactive lessons that students can access.
  • Family Service Counselors and support staff communicate directly with students and families and provide assistance to families in need.
  • Houseparents sent home belongings, noting the heartache they experienced returning to empty homes to find things just as the students left them. They, too, are reaching out to students.
  • Outreach services have made trips across South Dakota to donate items in communities in need including homeless shelters, women’s shelters, community programs and anyone else who may be in need of supplies.
  • Nurses from the campus Health Center prepared and sent home medications and are working with the local pharmacy to arrange for possible months ahead.
  • Numerous staff members are participating in “zoom call” focus groups to continue the strategic planning process with a razor focus on coming out with an even stronger mission when this crisis is over.
  • Fr. Anthony prays through videos on the family Facebook page, using this Holy Week to lead the Stations of the Cross.

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 90 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

7 thoughts on “Caring during a Crisis: St. Joseph’s Response to COVID-19”

  1. Thank you for keeping us posted – we continue to pray for you and for all of the children & their families. God bless you and keep you all safe ❤️❤️❤️❤️

  2. I am very concerned regarding St. Joseph’s & the children. COVID-19 is starting to spread in SD even though this governor refuses to demand a Stay at Home order. Know that you all are in my thoughts/prayers & be safe/healthy..

    1. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers, Joseph. All of our students are home with their parents and guardians and everyone is doing their best to stay healthy! Thank you for your concern and we hope you are staying safe and healthy as well!

      1. I frequently check out what is going on in South Dakota with the children. I worry about their survival as I do with our sons, grandchildren and great grand children. Praying does help of course. take care and look forward to updates, if that is possible.

        1. Thank you for your thoughts. We will always keep updating. We hope you and your family continues to stay safe and healthy!

          1. I am sure your school and students like so many others across the country are missing each other. I pray for the children, their families and their precious elders. The future of our world is our children and the lessons and legacy to them are from their elders.
            We all are in this together and what we do in this crisis is paramount to the well being of all the children.
            Thank you,
            Mrs Reukauf

          2. You are very right, Deborah. Thank you for your prayers. We hope you are healthy and safe!

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