Dear North Smithfield Families and Staff,
Before I share some details of our plan, I want to thank all of our families, students, and staff for their quick and amazing pivot to distance learning last year. The dedication, innovation, and patience exhibited by all was truly remarkable. North Smithfield accepted the challenge and met it.
We have another challenge before us: To reopen schools safely in the fall.
The Governor’s Office and Rhode Island Department of Education have tasked school districts to develop reopening plans to cover a spectrum of possibilities.
We have worked within our own committees and neighboring school districts and attempted to follow the current Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) guidance. Thank you to all the parents who responded to our school reopening family survey. Our committees read your reopening concerns and suggestions. Our principals and assistant principals read your individual concerns about your child or children.
I wish I could address all your questions and worries with certainty, but as you will see, there are still so many unknowns.
Although we submitted three DRAFT plans, they are not set in stone. Many questions, issues, and unknowns remain and as a result, details are likely to change:
Reopening Plans Guiding Principles
To support all stakeholders in reopening schools, RIDE and NSPS will follow five (5) guiding principles for the planning, decision-making, and execution of returning to school:
Common Elements to All Plans
Cleaning, Social Distancing, Facial Coverings
Plan #1: Full In-Person
Plan #2: Partial In-Person
Plan #3: Limited In-Person
As you can see, the logistics of reopening our schools, resuming a quality education, and ensuring the health and safety of our students, teachers, and staff is a daunting proposition while COVID-19 is still present within our community.
I understand that this letter and the draft plan summary have probably created more questions than it answered so I have scheduled a virtual forum to discuss further.
Topic: NSPS School Reopening Community Forum
Time: Thursday July 23, 2020 at 6:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Dial by your location
+1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
Meeting ID: 956 2165 1719
To help us better manage the discussion of this important topic in an online community forum, we are asking that you enter your questions or comments beforehand. We will review and combine similar questions and provide as many answers as we can at the beginning of the forum.
I mention at the beginning of this letter that I wish I could tell you with great certainty the plans RIDE wants us to submit will meet all needs and satisfies all concerns. But I can’t.
What I can do is assure you that all of us at the North Smithfield Public Schools are committed to the health, safety, and success of all our students and will do everything we can in response to whatever situation or condition our community finds itself in August and beyond.
Michael St. Jean
NSPS School Reopening Website: https://www.nsps.us/reopening.html
7/21/2020 School Committee School Reopening Presentation Slides: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1tMBbW66jGLYIENGeuBUcWlGN9SI8jGe9/view
7/21/2020 School Committee School Reopening Presentation Video:
Superintendent Update 7/8/2020 - School Reopening Information and Survey
North Smithfield Public Schools will be submitting to the Rhode Island Department of Education reopening plans to cover each of three specific scenarios:
We have committees working on:
We are also collaborating with school districts in our region and across the state. Our Initial plans are due to the Department of Education by July 17th. The Department of Education has hired a consulting firm to review plans and provide feedback. Regionally, we will be sharing the best solutions and coordinating our efforts to bring our students back to school safely.
Our goal is to re-open with the “Full in-person for All” model. To that end we will be:
This is just a small list. In order to reopen safely, the overall changes and restructuring will be extensive. We will try and minimize any disruptions and ensure a smooth transition to instruction regardless if conditions in August allow us to re-open fully, partially, or we have to return to an improved distance learning.
Once RIDE has reviewed our plans and we have submitted modifications we will share the plan with the community. We anticipate RIDE will be releasing finalized plans around July 30th. We will continue to reach out to the community for input as we work through revisions and changing State, DOH, and CDC guidance as we get closer to school opening.
As of this writing, we have no determination from the Interscholastic League regarding a resumption of school athletics.
Transportation and Family Survey:
Transportation is a major concern as the current guidance for buses limits ridership to one student per seat, or approximately 25 students per bus. No district in the state has the means to simply add more buses and drivers.
Superintendents have requested raising the ridership to at least two students per seat (face coverings on, looking forward, disinfecting hands when getting on and off the bus). If this new limit is approved we will be able to transport most students who typically ride the bus. We will still have to pull together and help out with carpools and other means of getting to and from school.
Please take a moment to complete this short survey for each student your family in order to give us a better sense of the changes we may have to consider in order to transport our students to and from school. Included is a (non-binding) question asking would you would consider a distance learning option, if available, rather than returning to school in-person? We also want to hear your own questions, comments, or suggestions regarding reopening in the fall.
For Further Information:
We have bundled and will continue to expand our school reopening plans, guides, and templates at https://www.nsps.us/reopening.html. This site currently contains the RIDE Statewide School Calendar, RIDE Reopening FAQ (mental, physical, and social-emotional health, protocols), and RIDE Reopening Plan Guidance and will continue to expand as our own plans develop and new guidance is added.
Michael St. Jean, Superintendent
Michael St. Jean,