masked teacher

Dear Smithfield Staff and Families,

Each week, we will be providing a Return to School Committee Report. This 9th edition of the weekly report includes information about the Virtual Option (VO), the Playbook, air circulation, and updates from the three Return to School sub-committees.  

The Virtual Option 

Approximately 450 students out of a total of about 2400 are currently registered for the virtual option.  Some families continue to register or change their minds, making this number fluid.  We have begun to make class lists, have adjusted bus lists, and are considering staffing changes based on these numbers so each time a change is made, multiple steps must be taken.  Our ability to produce a good plan for all our students depends on good information.  If you are considering the virtual option, please make your decision known.  Please use this link (  for a late registration for the virtual option.  You may also use the link to remove your child from the VO list.  DO NOT FILL OUT ANOTHER REGISTRATION FORM IF YOU ALREADY HAVE REGISTERED AND WISH TO REMAIN ON THAT LIST!

The Playbook

The Department of Health produced a “playbook” for districts (see Outbreak Response Playbook: Pre K - 12). This playbook provides guidance for the symptoms that suggest a probable case, when to call 911, determining closs contacts in schools, and clearance protocols for returning to school after illness or quarantine.  The protocols we have already developed provide our school nurses and administrators with step-by-step instructions for handling those with probable illness.  We are currently reviewing these protocols to ensure they are consistent with the RIDOH playbook.

Air Circulation

There have been many questions asked about air circulation in our classrooms.  Typically, air handlers in large, old, non-air-conditioned buildings are not state-of-the-art.  Our maintenance staff have been busy readying these units for optimal performance.  The mechanics have been checked and the filters replaced.  Additionally, the Department of Education has provided us with the following guidance: 

Keeping rooms at comfortable temperatures will allow students/staff to consistently wear their cloth face coverings. Airflow is important. Schools should introduce as much outside air as possible with air conditioners and should use the highest rated filters compatible with the units/systems. If possible, avoid fans, etc. blowing directly on students.Is there any updated guidance on the usage of exits/entrances?  Exits need to be kept accessible and not blocked or locked against egress.  A clear width of at least 6 feet must be maintained in all corridors.  

Stairway and other fire doors shall not be propped open.  Classroom doors may be propped open when the faculty and staff have been trained to close all doors in an emergency.  

  • Update from the Subcommittees

Leadership and Communications Subcommittee

Parent Forums are scheduled for next week for each of the district’s schools:

  • SHS - Wed, Aug 19, 2020 6:00 PM

  • GMS - Thu, Aug 20, 2020 6:30 PM

  • OCRS - Wed, Aug 19, 2020 7:00 PM

  • McCabe and Winsor - Tue, Aug 18, 2020 6:30 PM

  • LaPerche - Tue, Aug 25, 2020 7:00 PM

This week, students at SHS created videos to teach good practices to their peers.  The principals of other district schools are working on similar projects.  We are also staying up-to-date with new information. Parents have been using our new email account, to ask questions, which have been answered promptly. 

There are two upcoming School Committee meetings at which we will be walking through 4 of our 6 schools to show the School Committee and Town Council how classrooms have been set up and what procedures will be in place for the start of the school year.  These meetings will be posted and parents can observe the walkthroughs through our gotomeeting link.  Additionally, a more polished video will be posted by each principal.  These meetings are scheduled for Thursday the 20th at 7:30am (Winsor and GMS) and Thursday the 28th at 7:30am (McCabe and SHS).  The agendas and links will be posted on our website.  

Instructional Core and Social-Emotional Learning Subcommittee

The Instructional Core/SEL subcommittee solidified attendance processes for all learning options.  This spring, this process had parents and students signing in using a Google Form.  This year, teachers will use the student information system, Infinite Campus, to take attendance for students in all reopening scenarios.  

The subcommittee is developing elementary, middle, and high school guidance documents for staff and families that address logistics such as arrival processes, recess, the use of manipulatives in the classroom, etc.  Next week, the committee will begin to develop distribution plans for the distance learning and virtual option scenarios. Last, we are working on having 6th graders come in for both A-days and B-days.  This will depend upon final counts for bus transportation.  

Operations and Resources Subcommittee

Signage has been ordered and received and will be installed in the buildings over the next couple of weeks.  The subcommittee is working on a protocol for meal service for virtual and A/B days.  The state is providing some free materials (i.e. ppe’s, thermometers), which will be picked up on the 19th of August.  Distribution plans for technology and instructional materials are being developed along with more detailed cleaning plans for our buildings. 

We are working with our bus company to update bus lists considering families who have chosen a virtual option and will be communicating with secondary students about their transportation to school - being in walk zone vs. being on a bus list.  Last, a list of supplies to purchase for isolation rooms is being developed and we are researching air purifiers for clinics.

Last week, Smithfield had 6 new cases of COVID-19.  This corresponds to a daily rate of .86 new cases per ~22,000 residents, or 4 per 100,000.  The governor’s cutoff is 100 new cases per 100,000 residents.  I will be monitoring this number as we approach the start of the school year. This data is available at:

And finally, let’s find joy wherever we can and be sure to spread joy among our children during these difficult times.  Our principals are sharing “masked teachers” on their websites to see if students can guess the identities of these masked teachers.  Join in the fun!


Judy Paolucci, Superintendent 

and Members of the Return to School Committee