October 8, 2021
Dear Smithfield Staff and Families,
This 8th edition of the Back to School report includes our weekly report on COVID cases, testing plans, quarantine guidance, keeping sick children home, and town data.
A Weekly Report on COVID Cases
Another 23 cases were confirmed since the last Back to School Report for a total of 66 cases since the start of the school year. This week’s cases included 1 additional SHS football player, 7 other SHS students, 1 SHS teacher, 6 GMS students, 7 Pleasant View Elementary School students and one staff member that works in multiple buildings. There were no reported cases at OCRS or LaPerche.
In collaboration with RIDOH and RIDE, we will be offering a COVID-19 testing program to identify students who are infected and need to isolate at home to protect other students from getting COVID-19. We will be offering polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests weekly for athletes and twice monthly for students whose families are interested. All unvaccinated athletes are required to be tested weekly during their sport season. School-based testing is free and insurance is not required.
This year’s testing is different from the testing done in the past. In addition to using PCR tests, rather than BinaxNow tests, students will receive two shallow nasal swabs. One swab will go into a “pool” with 4-6 other samples. The pooled sample will be sent to a lab for PCR-based testing. This approach allows the lab to quickly complete multiple tests. The second swab is an individual sample. The individual sample is only tested at the lab if the pool returns a positive result. This approach enables the lab to quickly identify positive individuals. PCR test results will be available in one to two days.
In order for a student to participate in this testing program, parental permission is needed. Consent forms will be available on the COVID page of the DIstrict website.
The guidance from The Rhode Island Department of Health regarding quarantining:
It is always preferable to quarantine close contacts as soon as possible. However, if it is not feasible to send the student home immediately, a close contact can remain in school, follow the normal dismissal process, and begin their quarantine when they get home.
Keeping Sick Students Home
As the cold and flu season arrives, it may often be difficult to determine exactly what is making a student sick. Now, more than ever, it is important to keep sick students home, practice good hygiene, and test students accordingly (either flu, strep or Covid). Working with your healthcare provider and our school nurses, you can help your student to recover and keep our greater school community healthy.
While we saw a continued drop in RI’s numbers last week, Smithfield experienced a marked increase. Last week, the number of new COVID cases in Smithfield was 58 while the state’s figure was 1793, down from 1994 the week prior (prior week’s figures are adjusted as data is reviewed). The town rate corresponds to a weekly rate of 58 new cases per 22,000 residents, or about 263 new cases per 100,000 residents. This is considered high transmission by the CDC and RIDOH. This data is available at https://bit.ly/2PxCgDM.
Judy Paolucci, Superintendent