Dear Smithfield Staff and Families,
This 28th edition of the weekly Return to School report includes our weekly report on COVID cases, an update on school-based testing, determining the quarantine period, athletics, and town data.
A Weekly Report on COVID Cases
This past week, 29 new COVID cases were reported. Seven cases were from SHS, twelve were from GMS, one was from OCRS, four were from Winsor, three were from McCabe, and two were from LaPerche. This brings our total number of cases to 224 since the start of the school year.
School-Based, Asymptomatic Testing with BinaxNOW Test Kits
The district just completed the second week of school-based, asymptomatic testing using the BinaxNOW test kits we received free from the state. Our percentage of positive tests mirrors the data collected by state teams who did pilot testing prior to the holiday break - about 0.67%. So far we have tested all athletes twice in addition to students at LaPerche and SHS who had submitted consent forms. Next week, we’ll continue testing at SHS as well as Old County Road School. Winsor, McCabe, and GMS will test for the first time during the last week of January 25th.
To download a consent form, see this link. Consent forms can be returned to your child’s school at any time. If you were unable to attend one of the orientation sessions, you may view the slides or review an orientation recording.
This testing is NOT for symptomatic staff and students. Those experiencing symptoms or those who are in quarantine and want a test to shorten their quarantine period should make a testing appointment by calling (844) 857 - 1814.
School administrators and nurses have become adept at determining quarantine periods but it can be confusing to those who don’t deal with case investigations on a weekly basis. The calendar, below, provides an example. If a person is asymptomatic and tests positive on January 7th or if they are symptomatic and their symptoms began on January 7th, they are considered infectious beginning on January 5th. If they begin their isolation on January 7th, the 7th is considered “day 0.” The 10 days period would continue to day 10 - January 17th and they can return to school on the 18th. Anyone in close contact January 5th, 6th, or 7th, would have to quarantine for 10 days from their last contact with this individual. Since persons living in the same household may be unable to avoid contact during the infected person’s isolation, their quarantine wouldn’t begin until the last day of this person’s infectious period. Even using the reduced quarantine period now allowed, this would mean the person could not break quarantine until January 28th or the 25th if they tested negative on 22nd or later.
Last week, practices began for basketball, gymnastics, ice hockey, swimming, and indoor track and field. Rules from the Rhode Island Interscholastic League (RIIL) and the Smithfield School District, intended to limit exposure to COVID and to ensure the continuity of sports programming include:
Student-athletes may not participate in multiple sports for the winter sports season.
Student-athletes and families are strongly encouraged to limit out of state travel and a 14 day quarantine is required for anyone returning from out of state.
There will be limited access to the Smithfield High School building. While locker rooms may be used to change before practices/games, lockers cannot be used for storage. The weight room will remain closed.
One athlete at a time is allowed to see the trainer in the trainer’s office.
Practices are closed to spectators and parents must remain in their car at dropoff and pickup.
Only one team is permitted in the practice space at a time.
Prior to coming to practice, all participants must wash their hands. Once at the practice participants should be encouraged to use hand sanitizer to wash their hands frequently.
Students must bring their own water bottles, labeled with their name.
Prior to each practice all participants must be screened.
All equipment being used must be cleaned and sanitized before each practice.
Facilities being used must be cleaned and sanitized daily.
Athletes, coaches and staff must wear face coverings (gaiters may NOT be worn) at all times. Athletes may briefly remove masks for drinking if proper social distancing is maintained.
Physical distancing is encouraged, whenever possible When not engaged in active play, team members should maintain physical distance of six feet between each person.
Athletes should shower at home immediately after practices/games.
Bus transportation is limited to 36 people, including coaches, players and the driver.
Spectators will not be allowed at SHS home contests while some schools may be allowing spectators. SHS will live stream all home basketball contests on the NFHS network.
Two parent/adult family members may be permitted to attend the designated senior night contest if allowed by state and local guidelines in place at the time.
Concessions will not be sold at contests this year.
Athletes and coaches are required to be COVID-19 tested weekly at SHS.
Athletes who have tested positive for COVID-19 must be cleared by a medical professional prior to beginning a Return to Play (RTP) protocol.
The town of Smithfield saw a steady rise in new cases of COVID-19, from 6 per week in September to 172 for the first week of December then a steady decrease over the month of December to 82 during the week ending December 26th. Last week, the weekly rate was 133, which corresponds to a daily rate of 19 new cases per ~22,000 residents or 89.7 per 100,000. This data is available at https://bit.ly/2PxCgDM.
Judy Paolucci, Superintendent