January 7, 2022
Dear Smithfield Staff and Families,
This 18th edition of the Back to School report comes as we pass the third New Year’s Day since this virus began its spread across the globe. Let’s hope this new year brings an end to this pandemic. We are including our weekly report on COVID cases, testing protocol change for school- based testing, testing protocol changes for other testing, ending isolation and quarantines, vaccination clinic and town data. There are many important changes communicated in this week’s report.
For more news about Smithfield Schools, please see our district newsletter, available on this link: https://bit.ly/3pmDZyc
A Weekly Report on COVID Cases
Since our last Back to School Report, distributed prior to the holidays (3 weeks ago), we have had an additional 207confirmed COVID cases. This brings our total since our school year began to 427 cases. There were 82 cases identified at SHS, 45 cases identified at Gallagher, 39 cases at Pleasant View Elementary, 15 cases at LaPerche Elementary and 24 cases at Old County Road Elementary. There were also 2 cases at our Administration Building.
Testing Protocol Changes for School-Based Testing
Subject to test availability, Smithfield’s COVID team will be administering testing based on the following frequencies:
Athletes in high-risk sports (wrestling and hockey) - both vaccinated and unvaccinated will be tested twice a week (one PCR and one BinaxNow)
Vaccinated athletes for other sports - testing not required but available on the Binax day.
Unvaccinated athletes for other sports - testing required on the PCR day.
Staff and students at SHS with consent forms - Testing every other week on Tuesdays.
Staff and students at GMS with consent forms - Testing every other week on Tuesdays (alternate week).
Staff and students at PVES with consent forms - Testing every other week on Tuesdays (PCR test) (same week as SHS, opposite week as LaPerche, OCRS, & GMS).
Staff and students at LaPerche and OCRS with consent forms - Testing every other week on Tuesdays (PCR test) (same week as GMS, opposite week as PVES & SHS).
Testing Protocol Change for Tests Outside of Schools
Due to the increase in testing volume across the state, PCR tests are taking 3-5 days to process. In an effort to minimize the number of days staff and students are out of school and child care when in quarantine as a close contact, while staff and students are not required to use a negative PCR or a negative antigen test to end a quarantine, it is highly recommended.
*PLEASE NOTE: In order to schedule a rapid test at a State-run test site if you are asymptomatic, you need to select “General-public appointment” instead of “K-12 appointment” when prompted. That way you can make an appointment for a rapid test at any one of nine test sites, including the Smithfield VFW on 47 Farnum Pike.
Appointments are required at State-run test sites. You can self-schedule online at http://portal.ri.gov or call 401-222-8022. While scheduling a rapid antigen test, make sure to provide information about your education affiliation and select "General-public appointment" when you're prompted.
The RIDOH no longer recognizes nor supports at-home Covid tests. They are intended for risk assessment and not diagnostics. A confirmatory test is required to qualify for the 90 day post Covid positive quarantine exemption.
Ending Isolation and Quarantines
If a person tests positive, they must isolate themselves to avoid spreading the virus to others. The CDC has changed the guidance regarding the isolation and quarantine periods and Rhode Island has adopted these changes. In addition to describing these here, I’ve attached flow charts to help everyone understand the rules.
If you test positive, the isolation period ends after 5 days if you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving. You must wear a mask for an additional 5 days.
For those who are close contacts, the quarantine period can end after 5 days after exposure if no symptoms are experienced. Those in quarantine must wear a mask around others for an additional 5 days. If the exposure is from a school environment, as opposed to contact through athletics or social contacts (considered more high risk), then a quarantine can be avoided if the individual is vaccinated. Specific rules for this “monitor to stay” program can be found on the flowchart provided.
NOTE: New guidance for Test to Stay will be forthcoming.
Vaccination Clinic - Pfizer 5-11 Year-Olds
The town of Smithfield will be hosting a Covid vaccination clinic for our 5-11 year-old community members on Saturday, January 8 from 10am - 2 pm at Old County Road Elementary School. You can register for this clinic at: OCRS Covid 5 - 11 year-old Clinic.
The number of weekly new cases in Smithfield for the week ending January 1st rose steeply to 413 cases, from 159 the week prior. The number of cases in the state has also risen sharply, with 19,325 new cases for that same week - over three times greater than when I last reported these numbers prior to the vacation week. The town rate corresponds to a weekly rate of 1827 new cases per 100,000 residents, which is considered a high rate of transmission as classified by the CDC. This data is available at https://bit.ly/2PxCgDM.
Judy Paolucci, Superintendent