December 10, 2021
Dear Smithfield Staff and Families,
This 16th edition of the Back to School report includes our weekly report on COVID cases, coldspots, holiday guidance, pediatric cases, staying home when ill, and town data.
A Weekly Report on COVID Cases
Over the past week, since the last Back to School Report, we have had an additional 25 confirmed COVID cases. This brings our total since our school year began to 175 cases. There were four cases identified at SHS, three cases identified at Gallagher, four cases at Pleasant View Elementary, ten cases at LaPerche Elementary and two student and two staff cases at Old County Road Elementary.
Areas of Smithfield are a “Coldspot” for Vaccination
According to Dr. William Goedel, Assistant Professor at Brown University School of Public Health, the risk and impact of COVID-19 is uneven in communities across Rhode Island. His work as part of “Project SIGNAL” is to identify and track coldspots across the region. A coldspot is a small geographic area where COVID-19 vaccination is lower than expected. Coldspots put persons living or working in that area of higher risk and stymie efforts to control the spread of the virus. One of the coldspots identified is located in parts of Smithfield and North Providence. In this area, 71.1% of 6,152 adults (aged 18 years and older) have received at least 1 dose. This is 87.4% lower than expected. 37.2% of 901 youth (aged 5 to 17 years old) have received at least 1 dose. This is 80.9% lower than expected. To address this issue, the Town of Smithfield will be hosting additional vaccination clinics at Old County Road School. The first dose clinic will be held Saturday, December 18th from 10:00am - 2:00pm. Registration is open for this clinic at Old County Road 5-11 Vaccination Clinic. Please note, this clinic will only offer the Pfizer 5-11 pediatric dose. A second dose clinic will also be scheduled at Old County Road School.
Recommendations from RIDOH for safely enjoying the holiday season include:
As weather permits, take your holiday gatherings outdoors whenever possible.
Keep your gatherings small and try to meet outdoors when possible.
Stay home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.
Communicate in advance with your guests/hosts. Talk about what kind of precautions you’ll be taking and whether you want to set any ground rules.
Celebrate the holidays safely by wearing a mask indoors near anyone you don’t live with when community spread is substantial or high.
If you’re in a big crowd, like when shopping in-person, wear a mask.
If you’re preparing food for others, consider wearing a mask while cooking.
Wash your hands and sanitize surfaces
If you’re planning on getting together with people from multiple households and different parts of the country, consider additional precautions like avoiding crowded indoor spaces before you travel, or taking a test before you meet up.
Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the U.S. and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs, such as airports and stations.
Pediatric COVID-19 Cases
At this week’s POD meetings, the RIDOH shared that the number of Rhode Island Pre K-12 students with COVID-19 hospitalized in the last week is 800% higher than the previous two weeks combined. None of these students was fully vaccinated. Since the start of the 2021-22 school year, 36 Rhode Island Pre K-12 students with COVID-19 have been hospitalized.
A Friendly Reminder - When ill, Please Stay Home
As the weather turns and activities move inside, we all need to be aware that illness can spread easily. We ask that if you feel ill, regardless of the symptoms, that you stay home, rest and test appropriately. In Rhode Island we are seeing a rise in influenza cases much earlier than we have in the past, along with our current rise in COVID cases. Please see your healthcare provider if your minor symptoms do not improve. Also, if you are awaiting COVID results for your child, please do not send them to school until a PCR result is returned. Please communicate to your school nurse when your child is ill and we will work with you to help your child and keep our school community safe.
The number of weekly new cases in Smithfield for the week ending December 4th rose to 81 cases from 60 for the week ending November 28th while the number of cases in the state rose to over 5000 weekly cases, a rate that we have not seen since January, 2021. The town rate corresponds to a weekly rate of 368 new cases per 100,000 residents, which is considered a high rate of transmission as classified by the CDC. This data is available at https://bit.ly/2PxCgDM.
Judy Paolucci, Superintendent