Dear Smithfield Staff and Families,
This 20th edition of the weekly Return to School report includes our weekly report on COVID cases, clarifications on travel, a change to our daily screening process, and general reminders.
A Weekly Report on COVID Cases
This past week, one case investigation initiated last week for an Winsor ES resulted in 15 quarantined students and the following new cases were reported: one at GMS that involved 11 quarantines, two at McCabe Elementary School resulting in the quarantining of 2 entire classrooms, one student at Smithfield High School resulting in four students quarantined, and one at SHS involving a staff member resulting in 11 quarantines. Including students who were identified just prior to the start of school (and never entered the school building), virtual option students, and siblings of students previously identified, this brings our total number of cases to 25 over the first seven weeks of school. We wish everyone a speedy recovery and encourage all to strictly adhere to social distancing and mask protocols to reduce the spread of this virus.
Although RIDOH guidance includes a testing option for return from travel from a restricted area, the guidelines for schools strongly recommends the 2 week quarantine period and advises districts to set local expectations. All members of our school community who return from one of these states must follow the RIDOH recommendations to quarantine for 2 weeks, rather than choosing to test, since testing may not be sufficient to determine if you have contracted the illness during travel. Employees of Smithfield Public Schools who knowingly travel to a state where return to Rhode Island requires a quarantine, prohibiting that person from work responsibilities, may be subject to disciplinary action. If such travel is unavoidable, the employee should seek written approval by the Superintendent in advance of the travel.
Parents should also understand that travel during school days is unexcused. Although we are offering virtual programming for students who have opted for the virtual option or students who are in quarantine, we are not explicitly offering this option for families who wish to travel for pleasure. One of the most important parental responsibilities is the oversight of a child’s academic progress.
Changes in Screening Procedures
We appreciate the care parents are taking to ensure that their children do not come to school with symptoms, including a fever. Our procedure for screening has included a temperature scan with a no-touch thermometer as a means of double-checking temperatures. These thermometers become unreliable in colder weather so we will be discontinuing this practice and, instead, will be taking temperatures randomly or as needed. Rest assured that our practices exceed state requirements and we will continue to be diligent with monitoring student health. Please continue to take your child’s temperature each morning and complete the entry ticket indicating that your child is symptom-free.
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).
Dedicated Testing Centers - See this website - https://health.ri.gov/covid/testing/k-12/ for an overview of when to get a test, what happens on the day of the test, and the locations of the K-12 testing sites. To schedule a test, parents or staff can call: (844) 857 - 1814 - 7 Days a Week: 7:30 AM - 9:30 PM.
School Meals - Both breakfast and lunch are free to ALL students.
Over the past eight weeks the town of Smithfied saw a small but steady rise in new cases of COVID-19, from 6 per week to 6, 10, 11, 14, 12, 23, and now….. 37 new cases last week throughout the town - the highest since the start of the pandemic. This corresponds to a daily rate of 5.3 new cases per ~22,000 residents, or 24.3 per 100,000. Take precautions to keep your family safe.
Judy Paolucci, Superintendent