Dear Smithfield Staff and Families,
This 40th edition of the Return to School report includes our weekly report on COVID cases, travel reminders, vaccinations, asymptomatic testing, and town data.
A Weekly Report on COVID Cases
Twelve (12) COVID have been added to our total case report. Four of these are from previous weeks, due to a miscount. Four cases were from SHS this week and three (3) were from GMS. This brings our total number of cases to 327 since the start of the school year.
For travel outside the 50 states and the District of Columbia, or to a state with a five percent or greater positivity rate, a person is exempt from quarantine if: “the person (i) has received the final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccination series no more than 90 days and at least 14 days prior to the date of the person's arrival in Rhode Island, and (ii) is asymptomatic upon arrival in Rhode Island.” For others, upon return, a negative COVID test is required before breaking quarantine. Please observe all travel rules so that we can keep our students safe. Testing is available in the airport lobby as well as at several sites across the state. The asymptomatic testing being done in our schools is not a substitute for getting tested BEFORE coming back to school.
Protecting Ourselves, Protecting our Children
As of March 18, 3.34 million children (about 4.4% of all children) in the U.S. have had COVID-19, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Reaching herd immunity against COVID-19, experts agree, will require that 70% to 85% of the population be immune either due to vaccination or previous infection. By vaccinating children, we will reach herd immunity. As of March 25, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have launched clinical trials of their COVID vaccines in children as young as 6 months, in older children, and in teens. Pfizer has FDA emergency use authorization for people ages 16 and older while Moderna has authorization only for those ages 18 and older. By the fall, 12- to 17-year-olds will have some vaccine ready for them. For those 12 and younger, there may be a vaccine potentially by the second half of 2022. As new information is released, we will pass that information along to our community.
The Importance of Asymptomatic Testing
Asymptomatic testing provides a proactive approach to protecting members of our school community against virus transmission but there has been limited parental participation. We urge everyone to participate in the district’s regular BiNaxNOW testing. The PCR testing event on April 27th is cancelled due to lack of interest.
The statewide figure for new COVID cases remained fairly consistent for the past three weeks, while the number of cases in Smithfield increased last week then dropped back down to the level it was from the week prior. This latest figure, 104 new cases, corresponds to a daily rate of 14.9 new cases per 21,650 residents or 68.6 per 100,000 in a day or a 480 per 100,000 weekly rate. This data is available at https://bit.ly/2PxCgDM.
Judy Paolucci, Superintendent