Dear Smithfield Staff and Families,
This 29th edition of the weekly Return to School report includes our weekly report on COVID cases, updated travel quarantine guidance, reminders about school-based testing, and town data.
A Weekly Report on COVID Cases
This past week, 22 new COVID cases were reported in our school community, down from 28 the week prior. Seven cases were from SHS, one was from GMS, three were from OCRS, two were from Winsor, four were from McCabe, and five were from LaPerche. This brings our total number of cases to 245 since the start of the school year.
Updated Travel Quarantine Guidance
An executive order issued by the governor allows for three quarantine options for someone returning to RI after traveling to a US state where >5% of COVID tests are positive. The “gold standard” is to quarantine for 14 days and self-monitor for symptoms. As an exception, you may provide proof of a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to your arrival. Travelers may also receive a COVID-19 test during their quarantine period in RI and get a negative result can stop quarantining but should still self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days. We are now allowing members of our school community to use the testing options to reduce or eliminate the need to quarantine. We remind parents, however, that travel during school days is considered a non-excused absence, even with the availability of distance learning. Ensuring school attendance is an important parental responsibility that results in school success as well as strong work ethics in adults.
Reminder: School-Based, Asymptomatic Testing
We are hoping that families will submit consent forms so that their children can participate in our school-based testing during future testing sessions. BiNaxNOW testing is non-invasive and only involves swabbing of the nasal cavities. Our ability to keep our students and staff safe and healthy depends on the efforts of all members of our school community. To download a consent form, see this link.
The testing is NOT for symptomatic staff and students. Those experiencing symptoms should isolate and make a testing appointment by calling (844) 857 - 1814. We will not be testing students who fall ill during the school day. Our policy is consistent with asymptomatic testing being done at hospitals and is intended to keep our staff and students safe. NO PARENTS SHOULD SEND THEIR SICK CHILDREN TO SCHOOL WITH THE HOPE OF GETTING TESTED.
Smithfield has long been heralded as a safe and quaint community, however, the virus respects no borders. The state data, sorted by towns, shows that almost 10% of Smithfield’s population (2019) have tested positive for COVID-19, putting us in the top 25th percentile in the state. 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. January, likewise, started out at a high of 144 then decreased to 132 then 113. This latest figure corresponds to a daily rate of 16 new cases per 21,650 residents or 74.6 per 100,000. This data is available at https://bit.ly/2PxCgDM.
Judy Paolucci, Superintendent