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Return to School Report #3 and #4-July 3 and July 12, 2020
Return to School Report #3 and #4-July 3 and July 12, 2020
Julie Dorsey
Sunday, July 12, 2020

July 12, 2020

Dear Smithfield Staff and Families,

Each week, we will be providing a Return to School Committee Report. This 4th edition of the weekly report includes information about bus transportation, information on planning with Chartwells for school lunch and updates from the three Return to School sub-committees.

Bus Transportation Information

Many districts are struggling with having enough buses to transport students to school. Adding buses or bus runs is very expensive and will be considered, only if absolutely needed.  For our elementary schools, if we apply our walk zone consistently, we may have enough buses to transport students outside of the walk zone while keeping the numbers of students on buses consistent with current guidance. For the GMS/SHS buses, we still have too many students who live outside the walk zone and have not yet opted out of bus transportation - yet these buses have historically only been half full.  We ask that all parents complete the opt in/opt out form [https://forms.gle/JHkzqZ64WxqNLcrx7].  We will be sending further details about transportation to families in a couple of weeks.  For now, the info below may be helpful:

  • Families who live in the walk zone will be expected  to make arrangements for walking or driving their children to school.  We are hoping that groups may organize walking school buses.

  • The bus company has developed cleaning protocols between bus runs.

  • Principals will be developing secondary drop off points and will be streamlining procedures.

  • The group of students on the bus is considered a pod.  It must remain constant but it doesn’t need to be the same pod as a classroom pod. 

  • Students will have assigned seats.

  • We are working with the childcare programs in Smithfield to see if they will be able to provide transportation.  If room remains on a bus, we may be able to transport students there but we cannot have students on 2 different buses.  Bus pods must remain constant.

  • Students will wear masks on buses.

  • High school students who have a parking pass cannot also have a bus pass.

School Lunch Planning

School lunch will be available this year.  In order to meet the needs of different age students, protocols and schedules were developed across all three school levels, elementary, middle, and high. Protocols consider physical distancing, use of PPE, cleaning protocols, food safety standards, recycling of food and packaging waste, and scheduling. 

Update from the Subcommittees

Leadership and Communications Subcommittee

The Leadership and Communications Subcommittee scheduled a second Parent Forum for Tuesday, July 14th at 7:00 p.m. (https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/813375837) and a second Staff Forum for Friday, July 17th at 9:00 a.m. As part of the Parent Forum, the subcommittee created an online form for parents to submit questions ahead of time to be discussed during the forum. The questions focus on the topics of the physical setup of the classrooms, bus transportation, and distance learning. These questions and their answers will be distributed after the forum.  

The subcommittee is currently monitoring the responses to the Bus Transportation Survey that was sent out to families on July 3rd and reaching out to families that have not yet responded.

Instructional Core and Social-Emotional Learning Subcommittee

The Instructional Core and Social-Emotional Learning Subcommittee has completed a distance learning plan that incorporates the feedback received from families. Schedules and protocols for in-person instruction have also been developed.  The subcommittee has drafted a professional development plan for teachers and staff and has identified social-emotional and mental health supports for staff and families. The following  protocols are complete:

  • Assessing student's learning progress and loss

  • Accounting for learning loss

  • Assessing student engagement

  • Testing, grading, report cards, attendance, and promotion

  • Continuation of academic and social-emotional supports

  • Continuation of special education services 

  • Family communication

Operations and Resources Subcommittee

The Operations and Resources Subcommittee continues to research and order personal protective equipment (PPE) to prepare for the return to school. Protocols and schedules for safely providing lunch and breakfast to students at school were developed. A protocol for signage was completed and some of the signs have been ordered. In addition, the subcommittee has completed protocols for face covertings and for monitoring the cleaning of bathrooms and the restocking of supplies.  

A presentation of key components of the Return to School plan will be presented at a School Committee workshop on Monday, July 13th at 5pm.  All members of the school community are invited to attend.  The workshop links are below.

Link:  https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/766069149

You can also dial in.   1 866 899 4679    Code: 766-069-149

While the plan is due to RIDE on Friday, July 17th, our committee will continue to plan through the summer and additional reports to the community will be distributed each week.

Sincerely,

Judy Paolucci, Superintendent

and Members of the Return to School Committee


July 3, 2020

Dear Smithfield Staff and Families,

Each week, we will be providing a Return to School Committee Report. This 3rd edition of the weekly report includes information about bus transportation, guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics, information on planning with Chartwells for school lunch and updates from the three Return to School sub-committees.

Bus Transportation Survey and Guidelines

Plans for the safe reopening of school in September must comply with RIDOH directives, including social distancing on buses.  The recommendation from the Governor's office and the District is that parents, if possible, make arrangements to either drive their students to school  (potentially arranging carpools) or allow them to walk or bike to school.

Per district policy, elementary children who live one walking mile or more from their home school are eligible for bus transportation.  For secondary students, the eligibility zone is greater than two miles from the school. While buses may have picked up some students in the walk zone in the past, this will not be possible this year.

Parents of eligible students, who know they NEED a school bus, must OPT-IN for transportation for the school year.  If parents/guardians do not register for bus transportation,  those students will be removed from bus rosters, allowing for more accurate planning.  

BY JULY 14, 2020, we are asking parents to submit this form FOR EACH of their children and indicate whether or not they need bus transportation. [Link:  https://forms.gle/RB35tUAG8kYzSXYc7 ]

Here are the current guidelines for bus transportation:

1. All students on buses are required to wear masks and must have been screened at home before getting on the bus each day.

3. Students will use hand sanitizer as they enter/exit the bus.

4. Students will be seated one child per seat unless they are with siblings.

5. Students will have assigned seats. Students need to ride the same bus to and from school.

6. Students must all sit facing forward.

7. Physical distancing at bus stops is recommended. 

Guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics

This week the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published some guidance for school reopening that can be viewed on their website at https://bit.ly/AAPconsiderations.

School Lunch Planning

Members of the Return to School Committee met with representatives from Chartwells  this week to discuss options for providing lunch and breakfast to students when we return to school. All options discussed took into account physical distancing, use of PPE, cleaning protocols, food safety standards, recycling of food and packaging waste, and scheduling of food service. 

Collaboration Across Subcommittees and the State

Administrators are working together to coordinate the work of the three Return to School subcommittees. The elementary principals met to plan for student arrival and dismissal. Principals have been meeting with colleagues in meetings organized by the R.I. Association of School Principals and district administrators are participating in regular meetings with RIDE, RISSA and other professional groups.  The state has secured the services of the District Management Group (https://www.dmgroupk12.com/) to support districts’ planning efforts .

Update from the Subcommittees

Leadership and Communications Subcommittee - The Leadership and Communications Subcommittee summarized data from two staff forums, prepared a bus transportation survey and this weekly report, and coordinated the work of the other two committees.  Members also began writing the plan that will be submitted to RIDE on July 17th.  We are also reviewing sick leave policies for both staff and students and are investigating other federal leave provisions, should they be needed by our staff.  We will be strategizing about how to increase the number of substitute teachers.

Instructional Core and Social-Emotional Learning Subcommittee - The Instructional Core and Social-Emotional Learning Subcommittee continues to collaborate with school principals to create schedules for limited in-person learning, partial in-person learning, and full in-person learning scenarios. They are working on a plan to more effectively use paraprofessionals during distance learning and have begun to review the guidelines for a limited return scenario. The subcommittee has also been working on the templates that will be part of the district’s reopening plan that will be submitted to RIDE.

Operations and Resources Subcommittee - The Operations and Resources Subcommittee continues to create protocols for physical/social distancing, health screening for students and staff, cleaning, and response to positive outbreaks.  Staff have created model classrooms that approximate RIDE guidance for social distancing and have begun working with teachers to remove some classroom furniture and organize space to reduce risk of virus spread.  Meetings with the bus company are ongoing.  Signage required by the guidance will soon be ordered, along with other essential supplies.  Last, the team has begun a budget for CARES Act funds.

Sincerely,

Judy Paolucci, Superintendent

and Members of the Return to School Committee