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Return to School Planning Report #13
Return to School Planning Report #13
Judith Paolucci
Friday, September 11, 2020

Dear Smithfield Staff and Families,

Each week prior to the start of school, we provided a Return to School Committee Report. This 13th edition of the weekly report includes information about athletics, clarifications from the state about the October 13th date, health insurance/permission to test forms, extended free meal service, and technology password support.  Information about the virtual option programming and specific practices for your child’s school are being disseminated by principals.  At the district level, we will continue to report on the opening of school each week as we move forward with the 2020-2021 school year.

Athletics

At the end of last week, the RI Interscholastic League (RIIL) announced its plan for school sports in accordance with state guidelines.  The following high school sports have been approved for team competition this fall with safety modifications: Boys Cross Country, Girls Cross Country, Girls Tennis, Sideline Cheer, Boys Soccer, Girls Soccer and Field Hockey.  Football, Girls Volleyball and Unified Volleyball have not been approved for team competition this fall. Consequently, the RIIL will be adopting a four-season model and those three sports not approved to start in September will be moved to Season 3, which will be held between the winter and spring seasons at a start date to be determined. 

Additionally, the Rhode Island Principals’ Committee on Athletics (RIPCOA) has voted to move the start date of fall sports to Monday, September 21.  The summer coaches contact period has been extended to Sunday, September 13. Coaches must still obtain school approval and follow all current guidelines and restrictions.

RIPCOA has been working in conjunction with the RIIL to plan and prepare for a return to middle school sports, when it is safe and appropriate within a middle school environment.  At this time, RIPCOA has made the decision to postpone the middle school athletics fall season. 

Clarification Regarding October 13th

When questions arise about state guidance, we are able to reach out to a RIDE representative to have questions answered.  Many families had questions about the governor’s order that all students be taught in person by October 13.  We wondered if our secondary (grades 7-12) program could still be run as a hybrid program.  Here’s the answer….

Yes, secondary can continue hybrid.  If a district cannot bring all students back in-person every day, they can select to bring their middle and high school students back in a rotating, hybrid schedule so that all of their students return back in-person, just not every day. On the days that students are not in-person, they will be participating in distance learning. Students in elementary school must be prioritized to be back in-person every day in the full in-person and partial in-person scenarios.

Health Insurance Collection and Permission to Test

The State will be coordinating testing for all symptomatic public-school students and staff along with the close contacts and classmates of any student or staff who tests positive for COVID-19. To assist the State in doing this work, districts are expected to collect authorization/consent forms to test students, in accordance with RIDOH public health protocols, from all parents/guardians. Schools are also being asked to collect health insurance information from students to facilitate 3rd party payment for testing. Students/staff will not be charged any co-payments/deductibles for testing per state and federal guidance. 

Although we have been told to keep this information centrally so it can be provided to RIDOH quickly as part of testing activities, the actual form collects information and sends the information directly to the RIDOH.  

Over time, the state expects that some school nurses or other trained school staff may start obtaining specimens (swabs) for COVID-19 testing or supervise the self-collection of specimens of students and staff, as needed. AT THIS TIME, HOWEVER, NO TESTING WILL BE DONE IN OUR SCHOOLS.  

Parents and guardians are asked to complete this form (https://health.ri.gov/forms/surveys/consent/)  prior to 9/25/2020.

School Meals

The district just received notification that it is able to offer free meals (breakfast and lunch) for all in-school and virtual option students, regardless of eligibility status. This program is available through December 31st or until USDA funds are depleted.  Due to the limited time we anticipate funding may be available, it is important that families continue to submit updated free/reduced meal applications.  Confidential applications are accepted throughout the school year, and if approved, benefits are effective through the 20-21 school year and a few days into the next school year.   Printable applications and instructions for applying can be found by visiting www.smithfield-ps.org.   We are also excited to announce a  new online service for entering meal applications.  This service will be available starting on 9/29/20, at which time a link will be available on our website.  Please note we are only able to provide free meals to children 18 and under and will only be provided as a complete meal per program guidelines. All extra items, including milk to accompany a lunch brought from home or ala carte, are not included in this program. We encourage families to put money in their secondary student’s account  in order to purchase extra items.  For safety reasons we discourage the use of cash.

Meals for distance learning or virtual option students or for students not in school can be picked up at:  Smithfield High School Door #2   11 am -12 pm Monday-Friday

Weekend meals will be distributed on Friday.  Students who will be in a hybrid model may pick up a meal as they leave school if they will be at home the next day    

Technology Password Support

Are you having Google password trouble?  Access our Password Prep Hours for week 1 of school.

Sunday- Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. - 9.p.m

Monday- Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.

During these hours, call our Technology line at 401-231-6606, then press 5 and press 1 for assistance with password resets.  It's been a long summer and we know you may have issues logging in.  Call with your device handy and we can reset your Google password live during these hours.

Last week, Smithfield had 5 new cases of COVID-19. This corresponds to a daily rate of 0.7 new case per ~22,000 residents, or 3.3 per 100,000. The governor’s cutoff is 100 new cases per 100,000 residents. I will continue to monitor this number throughout the beginning months of the school year. This data is available at: https://bit.ly/2PxCgDM.

We are ready to welcome our students back to school!

Sincerely,

Judy Paolucci, Superintendent and Members of the Return to School Committee