Dear Smithfield Staff and Families,
This 43rd edition of the Return to School report includes our weekly report on COVID cases, town data, new guidance on asymptomatic testing and on masks, and vaccine information.
A Weekly Report on COVID Cases
There were 2 additional cases at GMS last week, bringing last week’s total to 342. Three additional cases at GMS, along with one at Winsor, four from SHS, and one from McCabe, bring us to nine new cases this week. LaPerche and OCRS had no new cases. This brings our total number of cases to 353 since the start of the school year.
New Guidance on Asymptomatic Testing
RIDOH is now requiring a confirmatory PCR test following a positive BiNAXNow test. Contact tracing will only be done after the PCR test confirms the initial positive test. If a student or staff member tests positive with a BiNAXNow test, no appointment will be needed at a state testing site.
New Guidance on Masks
Masks can be removed if outdoors and at least 3 feet of distance can be continuously maintained. If performing indoors, masks can be removed if at least 6 ft of distancing between performers can be maintained. If performing indoors, performers who are masked throughout the performance must maintain at least 3 feet of distance from others. If performing outdoors, masks can be removed if performers maintain at least 3 feet of distancing from others.
Myths and Facts about COVID Vaccines
While vaccination is a personal decision, that decision should be based on accurate information. Unfortunately, vaccination has become politicized, with radical groups providing inaccurate information and conspiracy theories. Accurate information is distributed by apolitical organizations, such as the CDC and the World Health Organization. The information I am providing here has been taken from such reliable sources.
Both smallpox and polio were eradicated through multinational public health efforts accomplished by vaccination. It is reasonable to believe the CDC and the WHO when they attribute these accomplishments, as well as the potential defeat of the COVID-19 pandemic to vaccination.
Myth: The vaccine changes your DNA.
Fact: mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine that teaches our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. The mRNA does not change our DNA.
Myth: The government is experimenting with this vaccine.
Fact: The FDA only issues Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) after extensive clinical trials. The FDA will continue to monitor the safety and efficacy of all COVID-19 vaccines that receive EUA before potentially providing full approval for those that meet federal safety and efficacy standards. About six months of observation is needed for formal FDA approval.
For the recent authorizations for use of Pfizer’s vaccine for individuals 12 years of age and older, FDA reviewed safety and efficacy data from 44,000 clinical trial participants, who were followed for two months after receiving the second dose. Based on the totality of the scientific evidence available, the FDA did not identify safety concerns that would preclude issuance of an EUA. Moreover, these studies found that the vaccine was 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 occurring at least 7 days after the second dose. Based on these data, and review of manufacturing information regarding product quality and consistency, FDA issued the EUA for the use of this vaccine for individuals 12 and older.
Smithfield's Vaccination Clinics for Children 12+
As reported in the Boston Globe, Barrington and East Greenwich are vaccinating the most young people (ages 16-24) with over 80% having at least one dose of the vaccine. Smithfield is only at 24.8% despite some well-run clinics right here in town. It’s unclear whether this data includes Bryant University students. Let's get vaccinated so we can beat this virus!
A vaccination clinic will be held at Gallagher Middle School for those between the ages of 12 and 15 on May 22nd from 9am to 1pm. To register, use this link: [Appointment]. The second dose for this cohort will be Saturday, 12 June at 9am to 1pm. For any student 12 to 15 who is unable to make the 22nd, parents can still sign them up recieve a first dose during the afternoon public clinics at Smithfield High School on May 21st (To register, use this link: [Appointment]) or May 24th (To register, use this link: [Appointment]). These two dates are the second dose clinics for the 16+ cohort. Students in the 12 to 15 cohort who receive their first dose on the 21st may receive their second dose on June 12. Anyone being vaccinated on the 24th will need to have their second doses at the Johnston Regional POD since they will not reach the 21 day requirement for the second dose before June 12th. Teams at the vaccination clinics will assist parents with registering for a second dose. Parents or guardians MUST ACCOMPANY any person younger than 16 years of age to these clinics.
New COVID cases in Smithfield dropped to 32 a week ago then dropped again to 24 this past week. This latest figure corresponds to a daily rate of 3.4 new cases per 21,650 residents or 15.8 per 100,000 in a day or a 111 per 100,000 weekly rate. This data is available at https://bit.ly/2PxCgDM.
Judy Paolucci, Superintendent