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,