Dear Smithfield Staff and Families,
This 3rd edition of the Back to School report (2021-2022) includes our weekly report on COVID cases, information regarding COVID tests, reporting close contacts, our new COVID team, and town data. For additional news about Smithfield Schools, see the September newsletter, available at: https://bit.ly/3ystWZN
A Weekly Report on COVID Cases
While we are not sure that we would receive notifications of positive COVID cases among our students and staff during the summer, we are aware of two additional cases for staff members. Official counts and totals will begin once school begins.
When and How Should You Get Tested?
Any individual, regardless of vaccination status who has any single symptom of COVID-19 should be excluded from school if they do not have a more likely diagnosis that is documented by a healthcare provider. Siblings should be excluded from school pending the results of the PCR test. If positive, students must follow isolation guidelines. If negative, they are allowed to return to school when they are fever free for 24 hours and symptoms have improved. If the individual refuses to get tested, they must have a note from a healthcare provider indicating that the symptoms are consistent with another diagnosis (i.e. strep throat). To schedule a test go to www.portal.ri.gov or call 401-222-8022.
Reporting Close Contacts to RIDOH
As we assist RIDOH with contact tracing, we are required to submit names and contact information of ALL close contacts. The following groups of people are considered close contacts but are exempt from quarantine:
• Fully vaccinated close contacts;
• Close contacts who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 during the past 90 days; and
• Individuals who meet the criteria for a K-12 Close Contact Exception
If the school knows who falls into these three categories, we share that information on the close contact spreadsheet that is submitted to RIDOH.
A K-12 student exposed to another K-12 student infected with COVID-19 does not need to quarantine (they are a Close Contact Exception) if all of the following apply:
• Both the infected person and exposed close contact are K-12 students;
• The exposure occurred in an indoor K-12 classroom;
• Both the exposed (close contact) student and the infected student wore face masks at all times during the close contact exposure; and
• At least three feet of physical distance was maintained at all times during the exposure.
• This exception does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting.
Students meeting this close contact exception are included on the close contact spreadsheet that is submitted to RIDOH, with a note indicating that the students meet the new K-12 student close contact exemption.
Our New COVID Team
The District is in the process of hiring 2 individuals to help with contact tracing, data collection, testing, vaccination clinics and inventorying and ordering COVID-related supplies. Melissa Moroni, whom many of you know as a school nurse sub, a member of the town’s emergency response team, and a parent in the district, will serve as our .5 COVID RN and will coordinate much of the District’s mitigation efforts. A second, full-time position will assist Melissa and will maintain inventories of supplies, make calls, and coordinate testing and vaccination events.
Last week, the number of new COVID cases in Smithfield dropped from 34 to 26 and the state’s number dropped from 1880 to 1854. The town rate corresponds to a daily rate of 3.7 new cases per 22,000 residents, or about 16.9 per 100,000. This is considered substantial transmission. This data is available at https://bit.ly/2PxCgDM.
Judy Paolucci, Superintendent