Dear North Smithfield Families and Staff,
At Tuesday’s School Committee Meeting, I recommended the next phase of student returns. We are looking forward to seeing our students with 504 plans and our 4th graders next week. The following week is a big week with the scheduled return of Grades 2 and 3.
Returns to date:
Grades 2 and 3 have been a challenge with their return as they are both large classes and we are trying to maintain as much classroom spacing between students as possible. Our ELA and Math Specialists have come to the rescue and volunteered to switch their roles and become classroom teachers. This will enable us to open an additional classroom in Grades 2 and 3 as well as help permit greater social distancing in the classroom and better balance to meet the needs of both our in-person and at-home learners. More information will be coming from NSES as we coordinate the return.
This is truly a wonderful solution for NSES. I thank our teachers and administrators at every school as they continue to brainstorm solutions.
We are in the process of hiring more substitute teachers to provide additional coverage and supports at all schools, with a focus on NSES. Our admin team (including myself) has been taking turns to provide extra classroom coverage and supports at NSES. Working with the NSES students has been among the highlights of our week.
We have a new drop-off procedure at NSES which appears to be very effective. Our transportation company is re-analyzing the bus routes with the return of new grade levels in mind. We will certainly notify everyone of any changes.
Quarantine, Contact Tracing and Precautions
As we move forward with our phased-in reopening plan, COVID cases across the state are increasing, and yes, we are seeing positive cases in our schools.
By HIPAA law, we are limited in the amount and types of information we can share in order to assure privacy protections for families, students, and staff. When a positive case is made known to us, we are obligated to follow the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) procedures and directives around quarantining. We are aware of many of your concerns and frustrations around contact tracing timelines and notifications. Improving the speed of testing and tracing has been been a continued topic of discussion at state-level meetings between schools, RIDOH, the Department of Education, and the Governor’s office as we emphasize the need to improve speed, efficiency, and communication because of the confusion, stresses, and anxiety it creates within our communities.
While we are doing what we can within our schools to mitigate risks and follow the guidelines and procedures defined by RIDOH, we are increasingly concerned about what is happening outside of school which may negatively impact our ability to remain open.
To date, we are not aware of any positive cases connected to being in school and any spread seems to be coming from outside activities and interactions. When in school we want our kids to be with their friends and learn. During the evenings and weekends, we want our kids to be kids, to have birthday parties and sleepovers, and to play and have fun. We want to be able to travel again, but unfortunately, many locations are still considered “hotspots” and carry mandatory restrictions upon return. We all want to support one another and keep each other healthy. My hope is that we can collectively keep everyone well, both inside and outside school, by following all the recommended health and safety guidelines, precautions, and restrictions no matter how inconvenient.
As a reminder please use the health screening forms (NSES Admit One Ticket and MS and HS students and district employees on the district website https://www.nsps.us/) every morning. Parents, if your child is exhibiting any of the symptoms as listed, he or she should remain home. If symptoms persist, or by recommendation of the school nurse or RIDOH, please use the free COVID testing services for K-12 provided by the State.
Thank you everyone and have a healthy and safe weekend.
- Michael St. Jean, Superintendent
Testing Children and K-12 Testing Sites:
Back to School RI:
RIDOH Outbreak Response Protocols
Michael St. Jean,