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Return to School Planning Report #1
Return to School Planning Report #1
Judith Paolucci
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Each week, we will be providing a Return to School Committee Report.  This week, the report includes an update on the workings of the subcommittees, including a look ahead; the report for the first parent forum; and a summary of the state guidance.

Workings of the Subcommittees

Leadership and Communications

In addition to coordinating the work of the 3 subcommittees, this group:

  • Organized and executed the first parent forum

  • Reviewed the staff survey

  • Produced the first report

  • Gathered information, attending meetings with RISSA, RIDE, Governor, NWC

  • Developed a network of contacts

Next steps include:

  • Developing a scenario plan by considering schedule changes that minimize added costs

  • Plan staff forum

  • Develop parent survey

  • Communicate key ideas in state guidance

Instructional Core and Social-Emotional Learning

This group will develop instructional plans for 3 scenarios.  So far, the group has:

  • Collected resources

  • Reviewed RIDE family surveys

  • Liase with RIDE to ascertain guidelines for the use of CARES Act funds
  • Review technology support plan instituted this spring and make changes to further strengthen support of families, students, and staff during distance learning
  • Establish policies for extracurriculars and athletics including the allowance of spectators, close-contact sports, and equipment sterilization based on CDC guidance.
  • Work with food services company to develop plans for scenarios
  • Consider transportation options
  • Investigate classroom setups that ensure social distancing by first creating a model classroom in each school
  • No-touch doors/bathroom fittings/trashcans
  • No-touch thermometers/temperature kiosks/segregated area for students who become ill
  • Partitions/plastic barriers/shields/guards/signage
  • Cleaning supplies and protocols
  • Face coverings
  • Assess mental health resources
  • Liaise with RIDE and other groups to understand and access newly available resources 
  • Work with others to develop schedules for in-person and limited in-person scenarios
  • Investigate technology applications and additional devices needed for SY20-21(with O/R subcommittee)
  • Discussed professional development for trauma-informed practices and assessment practices necessary for strengthening practices
  • Began a “Distance Learning 2.0” plan, developing a structure for the virtual day, a list of expectations, an assessment plan, curriculum compacting plan, and a support plan

Report on First Parent Forum

Question 1:  The Governor is asking schools to develop a plan for the return to school on August 31st. List 1-3 words describing your feelings about this goal. 

What concerns should be addressed involving the safety of our students upon return to school?


  • Masks especially for students with disabilities and sensory issues

  • The social/emotional impact of teachers and students wearing masks

  • Safety of wearing masks for hours************************

  • Mental health with mask wearing 

Social Distancing

  • Student community building balanced with safety and social distancing

  • Social distancing**

Common Understanding of When to Stay Home or Get Sent Home Due to Illness/Absences

  • Definition of sick

  • Requiring students to stay home with sniffles will cause a lot of absence

  • How will positive cases be handled/forgiving attendance policy 

  • Will teachers be taking temps of kids? 

  • What are your thoughts on kids being sent home for 14 days and parents have to work?

  • What determines if students are too sick to go to school? 

  • Will kids be sent home?

  • How will the school handle positive cases? 

Facilities Issues and Cleaning

  • Sinks that have running water that do not have handles to be held down for the water to run freely

  • Cleaning materials provided for teachers on a regular and consistent basis**

  • Touchless sinks/ hand dryers/ paper towels / water fountains 

  • No ventilation in the classroom when the doors are required to stay shut

  • Space in the classroom 

  • How will the rooms be sanitized? 

  • How will classrooms be set up? 

  • Are cleaning materials readily available? 

  • Will there be plexiglass cubicles? 

Transportation and Pickup/Dropoff

  • Transportation realistic classroom expectations, expectations of students, more communication between teachers and students especially at the middle/high school

  • Busing***  

  • Concern with parents not being able to drop off/pick up kids inside the buildings

  • Bus transportation

POD Size

  • Class size, keeping children separated**

  • How to keep the students safe when they are not staying in small groups

School Climate, Student Expectations, and Social-Emotional Health

  • SEL counseling*******

  • How realistic is it that kids can stick to expectations? 

  • Hand hygiene

  • How to keep the school day as normal as possible while keeping safety

  • Will children be expected to stay in one place all day? One seat/room?

  • Recess time? 

  • Humanity of the school? 

  • Hand washing before lunch? 

  • Will there be SEL supports?

  • I am concerned about mental health

  • Social emotional development


  • What do we do about sick teachers, do we have enough subs?

  • Field trips? 
  • How can students do labs and be socially distant? 
  • Get input from daycares that were open June 1
  • Kids exposed to first responders are at a higher risk, how do we limit these kids? 
  • Is it possible to have a set schedule by the middle of the summer so employers will know? 
  • Will CTE programs still be running for out of district students? 

    A survey is being developed to send out to all parents in the Smithfield District. What questions should be included?

    • Do you plan to have your child attend school, should the building be open?

    • Will you send your child if they are open?

    • Do you prefer in-person learning, distance learning or a hybrid?

    • Are you considering withdrawing from Smithfield?

    • Do you feel your child benefits from distance learning?

    • Would you prefer to continue distance learning?

    • Will you be using bus transportation? 

    • What accommodations can be made for students with special needs? 

    • Is there anyone in the house that would be compromised? 

    • If the schedule is not 5 days per week, do you have alternative childcare options?

    • Will you allow your child to participate in sports?

    • What impact did distance learning have your ability to work/earn money for your family? 

    • Did you help your kids with their distance learning work? Some parents are doing the work for the kids 

    • Are all grades returning to school? Rumors that MS and HS are not

    • Do you have access to PPE? 

    • What kind of additional support do you need to lower parent stress and encourage student success? 

    • Is anyone in your household an essential worker? 

    • Should distance learning be options? 

    • What options are available for working parents? 

    • Would masks being worn by students make you more comfortable or less comfortable? 

    Plans need to be developed for a variety of scenarios including distance learning. How can Smithfield improve upon the spring’s distant learning plan? 

    • Can we have small groups?

    • Teacher consistency**

    • Parent help is hard

    • More live meets****

    • Communication from teachers need to be improved

    • Keep a schedule

    • Kids cannot do 8-2

    • Give teachers training in DL

    • Homework should not be given 

    • Parents need to know more about what is required

    • Distance learning was fantastic* 

    • More instruction at the elementary level

    • More prerecorded lessons 

    • Week at a glance approach 

    • Let teachers take science kits home

    • Need more social time for the middle school

    • Tough for students with ADD

    • Teachers were very creative, thank you

    • Why don’t middle schoolers have books? 

    • More parent access 

    • Access to library * 

    • Alternative to google meet 

    Other Comments - What else would you like to share at this time? (some comments above)

    • I am worried about maintaining my job with kids at home**

    • extracurricular activities?**

    • We need in person learning       Every effort should be made to re-enter students 

    • Peer engagement

    • We need to develop training to help students 

    • How will a K students adapt?*

    • Are we considering hybrid instruction?

    • Should parents have the choice to have their child attend virtual or in school?*

    • Can MS and HS stay in pods? 

    • Is there a plan to address gaps from this year? 

    • Teacher training

    • Why are we rushing to 8/31 start date? 

    • Fall Sports? 

    • Different schools start at different times? 

    • Safety is a huge concern. 

    • Supt send out emails for those without social media

    • What is being done from an IT perspective? 

    • Supplemental materials to continue the rigor

    • Why is homeschooling not 6-8 hours per day 

    • Possibility for odd/even days although hard for parents to change work plans

    • Will virtual always be an option? 

    Summary of State Guidance

    The planning guidance document, developed by RIDE and the RIDOH, is available on this link [].  

    Below is a summary:

    Districts Must Provide Plans for Three Scenarios:

    • Full in-person

    • Partial in-person

    • Limited in-person (or all distance learning)

    Distance learning must be available in all 3 scenarios (students temporarily out of school, out of school for health reasons, or if situation changes)

    Class and Group Size Limits

    Full In-person 

    Elementary and Middle Schools: Required to maintain stable groups of up to 30, maintain physical distance. Each pod will physically distance (14 feet) from other pods.  

    High School: If stable groups are not possible, SHS students must maintain six feet of physical distance and wear face masks if maintaining 6 feet of distance is not possible.  

    For all grades, groups of students indoors may not exceed the state’s maximum allowable group size during the applicable Reopening RI phase. 

    Partial In-person 

    Elementary and Middle Schools: Same as for full, in-person

    High Schools: If not able to maintain stable groups, approximately 50% of the students in a high school can be present in person at any one time. Students must maintain 6 feet of physical distance and must wear face masks if 6 feet of distance is not possible.  

    Groups in Larger Spaces: Same as for full, in-person

    Staff: Staff are expected to physically distance from each other unless they are part of the same class or stable group. Staff who are not assigned to a stable group should maintain six feet of physical distance whenever possible and should wear face masks.

    Limited in-person

    Elementary and Middle Schools: Maintain stable groups of 15 or fewer in classrooms. Pods must physically distance (14 feet) from every other pod.  

    High Schools: If not able to maintain stable groups, approximately 25% of the students in a high school can be in person at any one time. 

    Classroom Layouts and School Space

    • Desks facing forward and physically distanced, assigned seating

    • One-way hallways and stairwells, whenever possible

    • Bathrooms cleaned frequently, same bathrooms used by same pods

    • Lunch:  For stable groups, lunch should be in the same space as class when possible. Outdoor dining is encouraged. LEA plans may propose an alternative, but if groups share a larger space, cleaning and disinfecting must occur betweenuse. If more than one stable group utilizes the same larger space for meals at the same time, a minimum distance of 14 feet must be maintained at all times between stable groups. For high schools, the number of people in any room for lunch (e.g., the cafeteria) must never exceed the maximum allowable statewide gathering size. When possible, students should sit at least six feet apart and use partitions to create barriers between groups. If multiple stable groups are in one, larger shared space, at least 14 feet of distance must be maintained between groups. 


    • Guidance for cleaning, disinfecting, and ventilation practices is provided and is consistent with CDC guidance 

    • As it is more difficult to clean, sanitize, and disinfect porous surfaces (i.e., soft or plush materials), schools are advised to avoid using these items. 

    • If a school rotates groups through the gym or outdoor playground, the play equipment must be cleaned, sanitized, and disinfected between uses by different groups. 

    • Handwashing: Schools must ensure that employees, students, and visitors have access to soap and water and/or hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol at all times. 

    Face Coverings

    • For all in-person scenarios, it is recommended that face coverings be used by students and staff, when possible, even in stable group settings. Employees are required to wear face coverings except when with a consistent stable group.  Face coverings are not required, in settings where people can maintain at least 6 feet of distance.

    • Visitors are required to wear face coverings.  Cloth face coverings should not be placed on children younger than age two; anyone who has trouble breathing; or anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.  

    • For high school students, face masks should be worn whenever six feet of physical distancing is not feasible.  

    • Face coverings not required when a face covering would inhibit an activity of daily living (e.g. eating); or when a face covering would itself negatively impact the safety of an individual or lead to an increased risk of harm to others (e.g. near open flames).

    Screening Students and Staff

    • Screening protocols for students and staff need to be developed and communicated to all parents, students, educators, and staff prior to beginning in-person instruction. 

    • Parents must screen students at home using a self-attestation form or an App. All students must stay home if they fail the screening prior to leaving for school. 

    • Staff are required to complete a self-attestation form or web-based application prior to arriving at school or are required to be screened before entering the school building. 

    • In addition to at-home screening, schools may also opt for on-site verbal symptom screening and/or temperature checks. 

    School Schedules

    • LEAs must submit a sample schedule with the plan of how to approach all three in-person reopening scenarios.

    • Drop-off and pick-up procedures must follow CDC guidelines, including maintaining 14 feet of distance between stable groups and physical distancing of six feet whenever possible for any other individuals outside of a stable group.  

    • Having school staff bring children to pick-up points, instead of parents entering buildings, is also recommended. 

    School Visitors

    • Limiting visitors in schools is generally encouraged. 

    • A 30-day log of all visitors is required. 

    • All visitors must wear face coverings.  

    • For partial and limited in-person reopening scenarios, visitors are not allowed, to the greatest extent possible.


    • Each LEA will need to outline how it is going to address its transportation needs.

    • All students on buses are required to wear masks (with some exceptions).  

    • Students using the bus are scheduled as a stable group, and the bus group is considered its own stable group.  

    • Hand sanitizer must be available and used when entering and exiting the bus.  

    • Students are screened when getting on the bus and are seated to physically distance as much as possible.  

    • All students have assigned seats on the bus and ride the same bus to and from school.

    • Students must sit one per seat, unless students are from the same household. Siblings and students from the same household should sit together.  

    • Students on the bus all sit facing forward.  

    • Physical distancing at bus stops and during drop-off and pick-up is recommended. Measures must be taken to physically distance as much as possible.  

    • Signs should be posted on buses to remind students of protocols. 

    • Drivers, monitors, and other staff must be screened daily. Face coverings are required for all drivers and staff.  

    • High-touch surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected between bus runs. 

    • For partial in-person, same rules, however bus capacity is reduced.

    • LEAs are encouraged to devise other transportation mechanisms.

    • LEAs are encouraged to survey parents about their need and leverage their school community to think of innovative solutions, including bus lotteries.

    After-School, Athletics, and Activities

    • Stable groups must remain consistent during any recess activities. 

    • If recess takes place in a large space, more than one stable group may share the space as long as 14 feet of physical distance can be maintained between groups and the size of the combined groups does not exceed the State’s maximum group size. 

    • Handwashing is required before and after recess. 

    • In-person field trips will not be allowed during these initial reopening phases.

    • Further guidance on fall athletics will be provided later this summer. 

    • Activities such as chorus and any group band rehearsal or performance be suspended or occur virtually. If schools in-person, students and staff should be at least 14 feet apart.

    • LEA Plans must address all school-related, before and after school programming. 

    Supporting Vulnerable Groups

    • An educationally vulnerable group is any sub-population of students that is more at risk of lagging academic performance with the continuation of distance learning. LEA plans must address plans for supports for both in-person and in-distance learning scenarios. 

    • High-risk groups include anyone who is:  Age 65 or older; and/or,  living with chronic, long-term health conditions. LEA plans must address steps that will be taken to support these individualsin returning to school buildings as well as continuing to support working and learning from home when necessary. 

    School Nurses 

    • Nurses must follow CDC guidance on infection control and use of PPE. 

    • RIDE will be providing more detailed information in the coming weeks, through a “Playbook,” regarding how schools should address symptomatic students and staff. 

    • If a person evelops COVID-19 symptoms while at school, the person should be taken to the school nurse and the isolation room immediately. Parents/guardians should be notified to pick up the student within the hour and should seek medical advice within 48 hours and schedule a COVID-19 test as needed. Symptomatic students and staff will not be permitted to return to school until documentation from a medical provider indicates testing was negative and there are no other restrictions, there is no evidence of illness restricting attendance, or it is documented that the individual is no longer contagious. If the test result is positive, individuals must complete a period of isolation as directed by RIDOH. 

    • Cleaning protocols must be followed to address contamination by sick students or staff.

    Another report will be distributed next week.