Dear Staff and Families,

As the governor has announced, there are no plans to move to virtual learning for Rhode Island schools. As always, should local conditions warrant a school or multiple school closures, such decisions may be made on the local level. As of this time, staffing in Smithfield appears to support the full return to school although some teachers will be out due to illness. Our COVID mitigation strategies make school a reasonably safe place for students and staff alike.

The COVID mitigation plans will be the same as before the vacation period. All students and staff will wear masks while in the school building and while on buses. I am asking all staff to maintain high expectations for compliance. Hand-washing will be encouraged, as will the use of hand sanitizers. Capacity limits for athletic events and other gatherings will decrease to allow for social distancing.

We will also be limiting non-essential persons from our buildings. Limiting each student's exposure to the least number of others, especially nonvaccinated persons, is recommended by health officials. Testing will continue for athletes and for students with parental consent.

The best way to reduce adults' and students' chances of contracting the virus or for serious illness is to be vaccinated. We hope that you will consider vaccination for yourself and your children. It is also each of our personal responsibility to stay home when sick and to get tested if experiencing any symptoms.

As health officials have shared, the omicron variant is much more easily spread from person to person but is also associated with much milder symptoms. Although this is not sufficient to alleviate all concerns, together we can safely keep our students in school.

Judy Paolucci