January 14, 2022
Dear Smithfield Staff and Families,
This 19th edition of the Back to School report includes our weekly report on COVID cases, booster eligibility, athlete testing, new guidance for quarantining, and town data.
A Weekly Report on COVID Cases
This past week was extremely busy for our COVID team. We have had an additional 160 confirmed COVID cases in one week. This brings our total since our school year began to 587 cases. There were 50 cases identified at SHS, 39 cases identified at Gallagher, 28 cases at Pleasant View Elementary, 25 cases at LaPerche Elementary and 15 cases at Old County Road Elementary. There were also 3 cases at our Administration Building.
Who is Eligible for a Booster and What Does it Mean to be Fully Vaccinated??
The CDC recommends that people aged 12 and older should get a booster vaccination shot 5 months after completion of a Moderna or Pfizer primary series, or 2 months after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Regardless of the vaccine product received for the primary series, people may get any FDA-authorized vaccine for their booster dose. People currently infected with COVID-19 are eligible to get boosters once they’ve recovered from acute illness and they’ve met the criteria to end isolation. In order to be considered ‘fully vaccinated’ a booster dose is required for those 18+ and strongly recommended for those aged 12 - 17 years. Please forward your child’s completed vaccination card to their school nurse so it can be recorded in their health record.
Our district will continue to test unvaccinated athletes once per week on Tuesday. Due to the high transmission rate, we are temporarily transitioning to individual PCR tests instead of the pool process. If an outbreak on a specific team should occur, we will test that particular team before they are cleared to return to play.
The town of Smithfield will be hosting a Covid vaccination clinic on January 19th from 3pm to 6pm at the Smithfield Senior Center for ages 12+. There is also a clinic for 5-11 year olds on Saturday, January 29th at Old County Road Elementary School. Register for either clinic at www.vaccinateri.org.
New Guidance for Quarantining
On Tuesday January 18th, our district will be implementing an updated response to quarantine called Monitor to Stay. Those identified as close contacts in preK through grade 12 will have the opportunity to stay in school during their quarantine period (they will still need to quarantine outside of school and school based extracurricular activities) with a daily attestation that they are symptom free. If any symptoms develop, they will be sent home from school and will need to complete the remainder of their quarantine at home. This plan will replace the Test to Stay program that was previously available to grades preK - 6. As always, you will still have the choice to keep students home during their quarantine period.
The number of weekly new cases in Smithfield for the week ending January 8th rose steeply to 570 cases, from 426 the week prior. The number of cases in the state has also risen sharply, with 33,847 new cases for that same week - with over 1000 per day in the K-12 system alone. The town rate corresponds to a weekly rate of 2590 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