Dear Smithfield Staff and Families,
This 34th edition of the Return to School report includes our weekly report on COVID cases, school sports update, vaccinations for educators, updated travel guidance for those vaccinated, and town data.
A Weekly Report on COVID Cases
This past two weeks, numbers continued to drop, with only 4 new COVID cases reported in our school community. Two cases were from McCabe and one each were from SHS and GMS. No cases were reported for LaPerche, OCRS, and Winsor. This brings our total number of cases to 285 since the start of the school year. Thanks to everyone for respecting social distancing as we endeavor to return to more normal conditions.
The RI Interscholastic League (RIIL) created a new season between the winter and spring seasons to accommodate some sports that could not be played this fall. For SHS, this includes football and cheerleading and for GMS, this includes boys’ and girls’ soccer and cross country. We are lifting the restriction of playing on two teams for this season and the spring season.
There are two main differences from the previous guidance that relate to the RIIL Fall 2 (season 3) sports:
• Games, Competitions and Scrimmages. Outdoor higher risk sports, such as football and boys’ and men’s lacrosse, are allowed to resume competitions, scrimmages and games with modifications. Competitions, games and scrimmages of indoor higher risk sports, such as wrestling, are prohibited.The modifications for football and volleyball can be found on the RIIL website, along with the approved sideline cheer guidance.
• Outdoor Sports Facility Capacity: Outdoor sporting facilities are allowed to operate at a capacity of up to 1 person per 125 square feet or forty percent (40%) of the facility’s spectator capacity.
Please note that RIIL member schools must follow the state of Rhode Island spectator guidance for school and youth sports which states:
For sporting events or practices with athletes under the age of 18, no more than two parents/guardians of the athlete and the athlete’s siblings may attend, provided all other COVID-19 safety protocols are met, including capacity limits for the sporting venue.
All other provisions under previous executive orders, regulation, and RIIL Covid-19 guidance remain in place.
Vaccinations for Educators
The federal government has made educators now eligible for vaccinations and the state is working on a plan for state distribution. CVS has aligned with the updated Federal Retail Pharmacy Program guidelines by making appointments available to pre-K through 12th grade educators, staff and childcare workers in both MA and RI. Pre-K through 12 educators, staff and child care workers may visit CVS.com to get more information on how to register for a vaccination. Those over 65 years old should visit https://covid.ri.gov/vaccinati... to register.
We are pleased in this decision and urge all Smithfield staff to get vaccinated. Our ability to provide in-person instruction while lowering the risk to all members of our school community hinges on these vaccination efforts.
Updated Travel Guidance for those Vaccinated
In the latest Executive Order from the Office of the Governor, travel guidance has changed. For travel outside the 50 states and the District of Columbia, or to a state with a five percent or greater positivity rate, a person is exempt from quarantine if: “the person (i) has received the final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccination series no more than 90 days and at least 14 days prior to the date of the person's arrival in Rhode Island, and (ii) is asymptomatic upon arrival in Rhode Island”
We are not out of the woods just yet. Last week, I reported that the number of new cases of COVID in the state has decreased to its lowest figure since mid-October, though Smithfield’s numbers were on the rise, from 66 three weeks ago to 94 last week. Unfortunately, we saw another large jump in cases in the town to 164 - our second highest week since the beginning of the pandemic. This latest figure corresponds to a daily rate of 23.4 new cases per 21,650 residents or 108 per 100,000 in a day or a 756 per 100,000 weekly rate. We are investigating where the rise is coming from. This data is available at https://bit.ly/2PxCgDM.
Please continue to observe all CDC recommendations. While some parts of the country are relaxing rules, we would like to see our community with lower rates of infection. Every life matters.
Judy Paolucci, Superintendent