Dear Members of our School Communities,
We have just learned, but are not surprised, that the Rhode Island Department of Education has moved schools to distance learning for the next 2 weeks. It is very likely that distance learning will be extended beyond those two weeks. We have been getting ready for this decision and believe that our teachers and staff are as prepared as can be for this challenge. We ask for your patience as we start this work on Monday. Not everything will be perfect right away! Each principal will be sharing specifics about the virtual learning plan with their families. My updates are more general in nature.
We will have no groups meeting in our schools over the next 2 weeks. School Committee meetings will be done virtually but the public will be able to attend virtually as well. Our playgrounds are closed. While we hope you will get outside whenever possible, activities like tennis, where there is no physical contact, are encouraged but groups of people playing basketball is not advisable and such groups will be asked to leave our facilities.
While all district staff will be moving to working remotely, in the interim, the administration building is open but the public is asked to call or email individual staff members in advance if something is needed.
Town Hall Meeting
Our Director of Emergency Operations, Todd Manni, and Town Manager, Randy Rossi, will be hosting a Town Hall Forum for all Smithfield residents, businesses and community partners on Thursday, March 19th at 7:00 PM. If interested, please find the call in information below.
Please join this meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
You can also dial in using your phone. (Toll Free): 1 877 309 2073 or 1 (312) 757-3129
Access Code: 201-945-573
Attending to one’s mental health and ensuring access to mental health services is most important during times like these. Our school psychologists, guidance counselors, and social workers will be working remotely and connecting with specific students on their caseload. They also are available to the entire school community and may be able to connect individuals with the help they need. The emails of these individuals are in the directories on each school’s websites.
In addition, RI Student Assistance Services Student Assistance Counselors (SACs) will remain available to provide support to students and families. Our SAC, Rebecca Young (firstname.lastname@example.org) is developing a plan with the principal for service delivery and to partner with support services staff.
Kids’ Link RI™ is a hotline for children in emotional crisis and is offered in collaboration with Gateway Healthcare, Lifespan, Hasbro Children's Hospital and Bradley Hospital (https://www.lifespan.org/centers-services/kids-link-ri). Kids’ Link RI is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for children suffering from behavioral problems or psychiatric illness.
Call 1-855-543-5465 if your child is:
Feeling excessive anger or sadness
Lashing out at siblings, friends, and adults
Having behavior problems at school
Having severe worries
Hurting himself/herself or others
The free hotline connects parents and caregivers to children’s services in Rhode Island and helps parents determine the best place to go for treatment and counseling.
You may also access help at: www.bhlink.org 401-414-LINK
A list of Grab and Go meal sites can be found here: https://health.ri.gov/diseases/ncov2019/about/foodsites/
General reminders continue to include, frequent handwashing with soap and warm water; coughing and sneezing into your elbow or a tissue; avoid touching mouth, nose, and eyes; and if you are sick, stay at home.
Try not to use public facilities like playground structures as coronavirus can live on plastic and metal for up to three days, and these structures aren't getting regularly cleaned.
To support yourself, the following is recommended from the CDC:
Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
Social distancing does not mean isolation, reach out to friends and coworkers via phone or other technology that allows for face to face contact
Recommendations for parents include:
Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.
Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.
More information can be found on the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html
Other COVID-19 Resources
RIDOH's COVID-19 Hotline - 401-222-8022 - for general questions about COVID-19, open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Anyone with questions after 8 p.m. should call 2-1-1. People can also email inquiries to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov.
RIDOH’s educational material on COVID-19: Tips for Coping with Stress, featuring local behavioral health resources and stress management tips for parents/caregivers.