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Return to School Report # 24 and #25
Return to School Report # 24 and #25
Julie Dorsey
Saturday, December 12, 2020

School Report #25

December 11, 2020

Dear Smithfield Staff and Families,

This 25th edition of the weekly Return to School report includes our weekly report on COVID cases, our distance learning plan, new guidance on quarantines, an alert on identity theft, and general reminders.

A Weekly Report on COVID Cases

This past week, another 28 staff and students tested positive.  Sixteen cases were from SHS, no new cases were from OCRS or from LaPerche, 9 were from GMS, 1 from Winsor, and 2 were from McCabe. This brings our total number of cases to 142 since the start of the school year.  Since we may not get reports of all new cases over the break, this may be the last time we report on the total number of cases.

 For Smithfield High School and Gallagher Middle School, the numbers are particularly disheartening.  Of the over 400 schools listed on RIDOH’s data page (see https://bit.ly/2PxCgDM), these two schools are in the top 12 for numbers of COVID cases. Interestingly, the numbers of virtual option students in Smithfield testing positive are also relatively high.  

 Our Distance Learning Plan

The School Committee’s decision to move to distance learning through the holiday break results in 3 distance learning days for elementary students (starting December 21), 7 for high school students (starting December 15), and 10 for middle school students (starting December 9). December 14th is a Flex Day and parent conferences are scheduled for elementary schools.

In this full, distance learning model, all students will participate in daily virtual lessons. Teachers will provide synchronous instruction and students will continue to receive interventions and special education services virtually via Google Meets. 

When school begins on January 4th, our plan is to return to full, in-person instruction, however, we may either remain in full distance learning or transition to the limited in-person scenario depending on the local conditions and/or decisions made at the state level.

 

In a limited-opening scenario, the schools will be open for a maximum of 25% of students. While the majority of students will participate virtually, school teams have identified at-risk and IEP students who will continue to attend school in-person. The middle and high schools would no longer follow an A/B schedule.  Rather, all students would be expected to participate in virtual lessons daily. Teachers would provide synchronous instruction from their classrooms while students continue to follow set schedules, either in-person or via Google Meets. In-person students may be scheduled into resource classrooms or combined into classrooms.  Should this model be implemented, additional information would be distributed to families and staff.

In any scenario, students participating virtually are expected to log on to all synchronous learning sessions at the specified times, keep their Chromebook cameras on (unless having difficulty with connectivity) and microphones off unless speaking, engage fully in lessons, submit assignments on time, and utilize office hours to receive additional support from teachers.

New Guidance on Quarantines

Effective December 10th, RIDOH updated quarantine requirements for the general public. This new guidance reduces the number of days of quarantine from 14 days to 10 days from the last known exposure.  Individuals may shorten the quarantine to 7 days if they have a negative result from a test taken 5 days or more after the last day of exposure.  Smithfield Public Schools will be applying this new protocol for future cases.

Alert:  Contact Tracing Identity Theft Advisory

It was reported that an email, looking like it came from the RIDOH, solicited the Social Security Number of a COVID-positive student.  Besides the date of birth, RIDOH will never require that you provide any other personal identifying information that could cause fraud or deception.  Please stay vigilant to ensure your personal information remains safe. For RIDOH’s scammer response guide-lines, click here.

Please take the following steps if you believe you have encountered a contact tracing scammer: 

1. If contacted by a RIDOH contact tracer who requests more than your date of birth, attempt to verify their credentials, including their call-back number and their supervisor. 

2. If you are unable to verify the contact tracer‘s credentials, immediately hang up the phone and submit a complaint through the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint or reportfraud.ftc.gov.

3. Never disclose Social Security Numbers, credit card numbers, or other financial information over the phone with an alleged contact tracer.

4. Do not click or download links received via text or email from an alleged contact tracer. It may contain malware. 

5. For more information on how contact tracing scamming, click here.

Reminders

 Attestation Forms - After an illness, all staff and students are expected to submit an after-illness attestation form.  These forms are available online through the RIDOH website (see link) or through our COVID webpage (see red link on the district website).  

 School Meals - Both breakfast and lunch are free to ALL students and will remain free for the rest of this school year.  We will be distributing additional information about how to pick up a meal during distance learning days. Although filling out a free and reduced lunch application is not necessary, we urge everyone to do so, since this data contributes to the formula for state aid and Title I funding.  For an application, go to this link.  

The town of Smithfield saw a steady rise in new cases of COVID-19, from 6 per week in September to 132 new cases three weeks ago, then saw a decrease last week, to 92, then up again to an all-time high of 169 this past week.  This corresponds to a daily rate of 24.1 new cases per ~22,000 residents or 111 per 100,000. This data is available at: https://bit.ly/2PxCgDM.

 

Sincerely,

Judy Paolucci, Superintendent

School Report #24

December 4, 2020

Dear Smithfield Staff and Families,

This 24th edition of the weekly Return to School report includes our weekly report on COVID cases, siblings, potential new guidelines for quarantines, COVID testing for staff, and general reminders.

A Weekly Report on COVID Cases

The last report, distributed 2 weeks ago, reported that 21 individuals, some of which are virtual option students, were added to our list of members of our school community who tested positive for the coronavirus. In the past 2 weeks, we added another 50, which corresponds to a weekly average of 25.  Nineteen cases were from SHS, none were from OCRS, four from LaPerche, twenty from GMS, five from Winsor, and two were from McCabe. This brings our total number of cases to 114 over the first twelve weeks of school.  We are hoping that the Thanksgiving holiday does not result in another rash of cases this weekend.  The governor’s statewide “pause,” which began on November 30th, may result in a slowdown in additional cases.  For another next week, all are asked to limit social gatherings to the number of people you live with.  Bar areas, recreational venues, and indoor sports facilities, gyms, and organized sports will be closed. Indoor dining will be limited to 33% capacity with one household per table and retail stores must be limited to one person per 100 square feet.

 Siblings

While siblings of symptomatic students who are awaiting test results should remain at home and should be further quarantined if the test is returned positive, siblings of quarantined students need not quarantine themselves.

New Quarantine Guidelines may be on the Way

The CDC has announced new guidelines for quarantines, however, the Rhode Island Department of Health has yet to make changes to the guidelines expected in the state.  Currently, isolation due to having a positive COVID test has a 10-day duration, while quarantines have a 14-day duration.  Individuals in a household in which someone has tested positive must quarantine for the full 10 days of the family member’s isolation period plus an additional 14 days in which they may contract the illness.  If they, indeed, test positive themselves during this period, they begin an isolation of 10 days, which may end before their original, 24-day quarantine.  This can sometimes be confusing to families so we encourage you to reach out to an administrator or school nurse for guidance.  

According to CDC guidelines, instead of the standard 14-day quarantine it has been recommending, potential exposure warrants a quarantine of 10 or seven days, depending on one's test results and symptoms.  If individuals do not develop symptoms, they need only quarantine for 10 days; if they test negative, that period can be reduced to just one week.  We are awaiting word about whether or not the RIDOH will accept these changes.  Until that time, quarantine periods will remain at 14 days.

COVID Testing for Staff 

Twenty members of the Smithfield Fire Department have completed training for administering COVID tests and the department has offered to conduct tests for town and school staff on a regular basis.  The first testing clinic, held at GMS on Thursday, December 3rd, resulted in 25 staff members being tested.  Results are then available 24-48 hours after the test.  Clinics will be scheduled at our other schools over the next 2 weeks then periodically thereafter. Thank you Smithfield Fire Department! Additionally, both staff and students also can schedule tests at dedicated testing centers listed at https://health.ri.gov/covid/te... .  This website also includes an overview of when to get a test and what happens on the day of the test.  To schedule a test, parents or staff can call: (844) 857 - 1814 - 7 Days a Week: 7:30 AM - 9:30 PM.   

Decisions Regarding Moving to Distance Learning

This past week, we made the decision to move all 6th graders to distance learning.  The numbers of staff and students that tested positive or were in quarantine did not allow for in-person learning.  Each day, the district struggles with covering classrooms, since the substitute pool is not large enough to accommodate absences.  Even if a teacher is teaching from home, an individual is needed in the classroom to supervise students.  Anyone interested in serving as a substitute can contact Lisa Petrone at 231-6606 or apply directly on SchoolSpring (www.schoolspring.com/).  

We review the situation every day and consider the amount of spread occurring through the school community, the numbers of staff who are out and the availability of substitutes.  Each family should make provisionary arrangements for their children’s supervision should a school closure occur.  

 

Reminders

 

Attestation Forms - After an illness, all staff and students are expected to submit an after-illness attestation form.  These forms are available online through the RIDOH website (see link) or through our COVID webpage (see red link on the district website).  

 

School Meals - Both breakfast and lunch are free to ALL students and will remain free for the rest of this school year.  Although filling out a free and reduced lunch application is not necessary, we urge everyone to do so, since this data contributes to the formula for state aid and Title I funding.  For an application, go to this link.  

 

The town of Smithfield saw a steady rise in new cases of COVID-19, from 6 per week in September to 132 new cases two weeks ago, then saw a decrease this past week, to 92.  This corresponds to a daily rate of 13.1 new cases per ~22,000 residents, or 62 per 100,000. This data is available at: https://bit.ly/2PxCgDM.

 

Sincerely,

 

Judy Paolucci, Superintendent