Dear Smithfield Staff and Families,
This 19th edition of the weekly Return to School report includes our weekly report on COVID cases, expectations for attendance, more on the case investigation process, and general reminders.
A Weekly Report on COVID Cases
This past week, the following new cases were reported: one at GMS that involved no quarantines due to the student being absent from school, two at McCabe Elementary School resulting in the quarantining of eleven individuals, one at Smithfield High School resulting in four students quarantined, and one at Winsor Elementary School whose case investigation is ongoing. Including students who were identified just prior to the start of school (and never entered the school building), virtual option students, and siblings of students previously identified, this brings our total number of cases to seventeen over the first six weeks of school. We wish everyone a speedy recovery and encourage all to strictly adhere to social distancing and mask protocols to reduce the spread of this virus.
Expectations for Attendance and Engagement
Even the best planning for virtual days will have no positive impact on student learning if students don’t log into Google Classroom each day if they are on a virtual day in their A-day/B-day schedule or are virtual option students. Teachers are working hard to do the extra planning required for online and in-person learning and are discouraged by the many students who are disengaged. Virtual days put an additional responsibility on parents to monitor their child’s learning and efforts. While a number of practices have been put in place to improve the online instructional programming, such efforts are thwarted if a number of students do not put in the necessary effort for success. Schools will be considering students absent if there is no evidence of engagement on virtual days and such students may be considered truant.
More on the Case Investigation Process
When a member of the school community tests positive, a case investigator from the RI Department of Health begins the case investigation process. During the process, RIDOH works with building principals and nurses to identify “close contacts.” Depending on the classroom practices, an entire classroom may or may not be quarantined. Most often, only those who sit around the infected student are given notice.
There is sometimes a gap between when the district finds out about a positive case and the list of quarantined students is determined. RIDOH recommends that students remain in school until identified. It’s important for the public to remember that these individuals are not infected themselves. Instead, they may have been exposed so quarantining is applied to ensure that if they get the virus during the 2 week incubation period, they will not further expose others. Occasionally, the district may anticipate a quarantine and inform families prior to RIDOH notification. Additionally, it is important for families to know that siblings of students awaiting test results or having positive test results need to remain home - whether or not the family receives notification from RIDOH or the school. Siblings of students who are in quarantine do not need to remain home unless they, themselves, were put in quarantine by RIDOH or the quarantined student has symptoms. The updated Outbreak Response Protocols (Playbook) can be found on this link.
Attestation Forms - After an illness, all staff and students are expected to submit an after-illness attestation form. These forms are available online through the RIDOH website (see link) or through our COVID webpage (see red link on the district website).
Dedicated Testing Centers - See this website - https://health.ri.gov/covid/testing/k-12/ for an overview of when to get a test, what happens on the day of the test, and the locations of the K-12 testing sites. To schedule a test, parents or staff can call: (844) 857 - 1814 - 7 Days a Week: 7:30 AM - 9:30 PM.
School Meals - Both breakfast and lunch are free to ALL students.
Over the past six weeks we saw a small but steady rise in new cases of COVID-19, from 6 per week to 6, 10, 11, and 14. Data from this past week was not yet available on the data spreadsheet (available at: https://bit.ly/2PxCgDM) at the time of this writing, however, cases have been increasing across the state and nation. Take precautions to keep your family safe.
Judy Paolucci, Superintendent