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Return to School Report # 31 and #32
Return to School Report # 31 and #32
Julie Dorsey
Friday, February 12, 2021

School Report #32

February 12, 2021

Dear Smithfield Staff and Families,

This 32nd edition of the Return to School report includes our weekly report on COVID cases, an update on hybrid programming, mental health resources, and town data.

 A Weekly Report on COVID Cases

This past week numbers continued to drop, with only 5 new COVID cases reported in our school community, down from 8, 19, 22, and 28 over the past 4 weeks.  Two cases were from McCabe, one was from SHS, one was from Winsor, one from OCRS, and no cases were reported for GMS and LaPerche. This brings our total number of cases to 277 since the start of the school year.  Please remain vigilant during the vacation week so that we can return to safe conditions!

Update on Hybrid Programming

In grades 7-12, Smithfield students attend school in-person every-other-day and work from home on alternate days. Ideally, teachers plan lessons that keep pace with the curriculum by concentrating direct instruction on in-person days and practice and reinforcement on virtual days. The success of this model is dependent on the engagement of students on virtual days, since disengagement is equivalent to being absent 50% of the time. Both parents and teachers are challenged to ensure that students meet expectations and all look forward to a return to full, in-person instruction.

Some have asked if the return to full, in-person instruction is possible this year.  We certainly have not ruled it out. Below are two of our most significant challenges:

Transportation - The state has not changed its guidelines for bus transportation and, until then, we do not have the capacity to transport all grade 7-12 students needing bus transportation to school. If we were to allow any student who can find their own transportation to school to attend school 5-days per week, an inequity would result between families who can or cannot transport their children to school.  

Hallway and Classroom Density - Bigger kids take up more space.  We have spaced out desks to the fullest extent possible and adding more students to classrooms would naturally decrease the space between students, allowing the virus to spread more easily and resulting in more frequent and larger quarantines.  

Despite these challenges, we are not committed to the hybrid model for the full year and, if guidelines change or if warmer weather brings new options, we will review our programming and make adjustments accordingly.

Mental Health Resources

The pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of children and adults alike. Our schools have staff that are able to help students experiencing anxiety or depression.  Contact your child’s principal if you are concerned and believe that your child needs our help.  In addition, RIDE maintains a resource page for mental health related to COVID: https://www.ride.ri.gov/Studen...

 Kids’ Link RI™ is a behavioral health triage service and referral network. A program offered in collaboration with Gateway Healthcare, Lifespan, Hasbro Children's Hospital and Bradley Hospital, Kids’ Link RI is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help triage children and youth in need of mental health services and refer them to treatment providers. To contact Kids' Link RI, call 1-855-543-5465.

Town Data

The number of new cases of COVID in the town of Smithfield dropped to its lowest since the beginning of November.  Sixty-eight (68) new cases were reported last week, down from a high of 144 at the start of January.  This latest figure corresponds to a daily rate of 9.7 new cases per 21,650 residents or 44.9 per 100,000. This data is available at https://bit.ly/2PxCgDM.  

 

Sincerely,

Judy Paolucci, Superintendent

 

School Report #31

February 5, 2021

Dear Smithfield Staff and Families,

This 31st edition of the weekly Return to School report includes our weekly report on COVID cases, rules for those testing positive in the last 90 days, a sports update, travel guidance reminders, and town data. 

 

A Weekly Report on COVID Cases

This past week, 8 new COVID cases were reported in our school community, down from 19, 22, and 28 over the past 3 weeks.  Three cases were from SHS, two were from GMS, one was from Winsor, two were from LaPerche, and no cases were reported for McCabe or OCRS. This brings our total number of cases to 272 since the start of the school year.  

Rules for Those Who Tested Positive in Last 90 Days

At the regional meeting held last week, RIDOH explained current guidance for those who have tested positive within the past 90 days.  During the 90-day period, no quarantines are necessary if the person is considered a close contact, including for close contacts within the household.  There is also no quarantine after travel, no negative test result needed for sports, and no asymptomatic school-based testing for these individuals.

Sports Update

Winter sports teams have been practicing without issue and will soon be participating in games.  Our asymptomatic testing program provides some confidence in the safety of our athletes.

The RIIL has maintained a commitment to offer football during “season 3” and will continue to develop and implement COVID-19 mitigation guidelines and sport-specific requirements for all fall and winter sports.  Meanwhile, Massachusetts has received full approval for football, starting on February 22nd. The MA football modifications approved by their DOH form the basis for modifications from the RIIL.  We will continue to monitor their efforts as well as the local conditions in the hope that our football players are playing and are kept safe.

Reminder - Travel Guidance

With February vacation around the corner, we are again sharing our new policy about travel.  An executive order issued by the governor allows for three quarantine options for someone returning to RI after traveling to a US state where >5% of COVID tests are positive. The “gold standard” is to quarantine for 14 days and self-monitor for symptoms.  As an exception, you may provide proof of a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to your arrival.  Travelers may also receive a COVID-19 test during their quarantine period in RI and get a negative result can stop quarantining but should still self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days.  We are now allowing members of our school community to use the testing options to reduce or eliminate the need to quarantine.  We remind parents, however, that travel during school days is considered a non-excused absence, even with the availability of distance learning.  Ensuring school attendance is an important parental responsibility that results in school success as well as strong work ethics in adults.  

Town Data

The number of new cases of COVID in the town of Smithfield dropped to 103 this week, down from a high of 144 at the start of January.  This latest figure corresponds to a daily rate of 14.7 new cases per 21,650 residents or 68.0 per 100,000. This data is available at https://bit.ly/2PxCgDM.

 

Sincerely,

Judy Paolucci, Superintendent