Dear North Smithfield Families and Staff,
We are excited to have our students returning and we are hopeful that we will be allowed to focus on what we do best, creating an active and vibrant learning environment and teaching kids.
We understand there is disagreement and resistance to the Governor’s masking requirement in school. Just as there is a federal masking requirement to board and remain on a bus, train, or plane, there is a state requirement to wear a mask to enter and remain in a school.
As individuals, schools, and as a district, we cannot pick and choose the laws and policies we want to follow. For example, an athlete cannot decide on his or her own to waive personal safety equipment required by the Interscholastic League. A high school can not waive graduation requirements defined by the Board of Regents and still issue a diploma. Similarly, a district cannot waive a governmental executive order.
As a result, we cannot allow anyone in a school or classroom without a mask. This is the same requirement we followed throughout the last school year.
For COVID Specifically, we are required to adhere to:
RIDOH PreK-12 Outbreak Response Protocols: https://www.back2schoolri.com/what-you-need-to-know/
Executive Order 21-87 Requiring Masks in School: https://governor.ri.gov/executive-orders/executive-order-21-87
For those who strongly disagree with wearing a mask, please understand that schools must follow state and federal laws, policies, and requirements. You can certainly continue to voice your opinions with your elected officials, but understand that as principals, teachers, instructional assistants, nurses, secretaries, custodians, bus drivers, and kitchen workers, we do not have the individual or collective means to waive or ignore this requirement.
For our kids, the start of school carries a mixture of nervousness and excitement. The entire NSPS staff remains hopeful that we as a community can fuel their excitement to be all in, in-person, and among all their friends. We also have school counselors, nurses, psychologists, and social workers ready to provide support and counseling services to students who may be struggling with COVID-related and any other issues and concerns.
Let’s have a positive school opening and ensure that our first days and weeks will set the tone for a successful year ahead.
Michael St. Jean, Superintendent
Dear North Smithfield Families and Staff,
We are a week away from returning to a new school year. As with the last two years, we will have our challenges but North Smithfield students, families, and school department staff have persevered and come through it together.
21-22 School Times and Busing
First day of school for K-12 students, Tuesday, August 30th, 2021. (K will be an abbreviated day)
First day of school for Pre-K, Friday, September 3rd.
NSMS/NSHS student school day 7:55am – 2:20pm
NSES student school day 8:45am – 3:10pm
We anticipate that bus routes and pickup and dropoff locations, as well as times, will be available on the DATTCO website on August 26th. https://www.dattcoschoolbus.com/my-childs-route/?did=6
**As a reminder, per federal regulation, students must wear a mask in order to board and ride the school bus.
The Governor has issued an executive order requiring masks. (https://governor.ri.gov/executive-orders/executive-order-21-87)
The school department will follow and adhere to governmental orders and laws. Additionally, we will follow Rhode Island Department of Health policies and protocols.
It is our hope that, despite disagreements within the community, our bus drivers, office assistants, nurses, and teachers will be able to focus on transporting, educating, and caring for the students without challenges or pressures over this issue.
Our resources are dedicated this year to full in-person instruction, 5 days a week. Kids need to be in the classroom. There are a number of factors that will allow us to achieve this.
We will be sending a link to a form for all parents to fill out. The form will have two parts…
Contact Tracing and Quarantine
As mentioned earlier, contact tracing and quarantining will be highly targeted. The RIDOH protocols we are to follow are located at https://www.back2schoolri.com/what-you-need-to-know/
These are different from those we followed last year and designed to keep students in school.
Multiple factors including ventilation, cleaning, distancing, mask-wearing effect contact tracing, and quarantine. In brief (as of this writing):
Other issues that will affect us going into the school year with contact tracing and quarantining will include our community transmission rates, our community and student vaccination coverage, testing, and any related outbreak situations.
Again, all this information and more, including athletics, and many of the “what-if” scenarios people may be thinking about, are available at https://www.back2schoolri.com/what-you-need-to-know/
Our teachers are excited to be back in the classroom and see our students in person. We have good protocols in place designed to allow students to remain in school. We will have extra supports and opportunities for students during and after school. Despite some community disagreements, the passion to do what is best for our students is strong. That is a good thing. We are definitely a community that loves and supports our kids.
With everyone’s support, I am positive that we can keep our students in the classroom, keep them learning, keep them socially engaged, and keep them safe and happy.
Superintendent Update 8/5/2021
Dear North Smithfield Families and Staff,
School Chairman Lombardi and I would like to give you an update on the Fall reopening plans.
At this point, masking and COVID vaccinations are a family decision. To mitigate quarantining and help keep our schools open, we hope that families will consider vaccinating themselves and eligible children.
The Governor's office and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) have published a new set of COVID guidelines for safe school operation. With these guidelines, RIDOH and the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) are encouraging school districts to develop policies and protocols for the school opening in the Fall.
At the July 20th School Committee Meeting, the School Committee mask policy was adopted for the first reading. This policy was prepared by our attorney and is consistent with what most Northern RI Districts are doing.
The policy aligns with the masking requirements under the law.
During the coming weeks, we will have more information from the RIDOH regarding COVID, the Delta Variant, and school guidance. North Smithfield is and will be working with RIDE, RIDOH, and districts across the region to develop protocols.
Until more information becomes available, we can share a few items to keep in mind for the coming school year.
Please keep in mind that all this is a snapshot in time.
We are confident that as a school department and as a community, we will collectively meet the challenges ahead.
- James J Lombardi III Esq CPA, School Committee Chair
- Michael St. Jean, Superintendent
Memo from Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green
August 3, 2021
As you have likely heard, the CDC updated its guidance related to mask-wearing in K-12 schools. The CDC now recommends that all people in an elementary or secondary school setting wear a face mask, regardless of their vaccination status. This change comes as a result of the growing prevalence of the Delta variant of virus that causes COVID-19, which spreads more easily and may cause more severe illness.
While we no longer have the authority to mandate mask use, heeding this important warning from the CDC, RIDE in partnership with Governor McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health, is now strongly recommending that districts implement a policy requiring every person in a school setting to wear a face mask indoors, whether vaccinated or not. I understand that this is a change in guidance from the state’s previous guidance, but it is our duty to adapt to protect our students and staff.
The Delta variant of COVID-19 now has a significant presence in Rhode Island. The Delta variant spreads much more quickly than the strains of the virus that were predominate in Rhode Island even just a few weeks ago. Unvaccinated people are most at risk of getting and spreading the Delta variant, though even those who are vaccinated can spread it.
Vaccines remain one of the most powerful tools to keep students safe and healthy, and learning in the classroom. It takes approximately five weeks to become fully vaccinated starting with the first dose; depending on your district, the start of school is currently between five and seven weeks away. Please, if
you haven’t, get your first dose of the vaccine as soon as possible. Information on vaccination sites and schedules can be found on C19vaccineRI.org.
Last year, all of us—educators, families, school leaders, community members, and more— were able to work together to lead the nation in providing in-person learning to our students without the major spread of the COVID-19 virus. I know that together, we will be able to replicate that feat and provide our students, families, and educators with the support they deserve.
You can view the latest school guidance at back2schoolri.com.
Michael St. Jean,