Dear Smithfield Staff and Families,
This 35th edition of the Return to School report includes our weekly report on COVID cases, recess updates, notes on remaining vigilant, spring events, and town data.
A Weekly Report on COVID Cases
This past month, numbers continued to drop, with only 3 new COVID cases reported in our school community this past week. Two cases were from OCRS and one was from McCabe. No cases were reported for SHS, GMS, LaPerche, and Winsor. This brings our total number of cases to 288 since the start of the school year.
New Recess/Playground Guidance
Updated COVID guidance allows our schools to provide better school experiences for our students while maintaining a high level of safety. At a recent meeting, state officials shared information about recess and playgrounds. Outdoor areas, they explained, generally require normal, routine cleaning but do not require disinfection. Spraying disinfectant on sidewalks and in parks is not an efficient use of disinfectant supplies and has not been proven to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to the public. Large playground equipment (slides, swings, climbing equipment) does not need to be cleaned between student groups or individual uses. Shared, small recess equipment (balls, hula hoops) should be cleaned between uses as possible. They stressed the need for handwashing before and after recess.
While many are now being vaccinated, it’s not yet time to drop our guard. Mask-wearing, social distancing, handwashing are still our best defense against another surge. We expect all members of our school community to continue to observe good practices. When new guidelines are shared, we will adjust accordingly.
A state workgroup is working on guidelines for spring events, such as field days, and we will plan for these events adhering to any new guidelines. In addition, we are working through adjustments to other traditional spring events so that we can celebrate our students’ accomplishments in a safe manner.
Last week’s jump in cases in Smithfield was a source of concern, though, thankfully, this figure has dropped back down to 100 new cases in a one-week period. This latest figure corresponds to a daily rate of 14.3 new cases per 21,650 residents or 66 per 100,000 in a day or a 462 per 100,000 weekly rate. This data is available at https://bit.ly/2PxCgDM.
Judy Paolucci, Superintendent