Dear Smithfield Staff and Families,
This 22nd edition of the Back to School report includes our weekly report on COVID cases, information about the town’s COVID test event and a vaccination clinic, the mask mandate extension, and town data. For more news from Smithfield Schools, see the February newsletter. Also, the School Committee will review a draft of the 2022-2023 school calendar on February 7th and will approve a calendar on February 28th. The draft calendar can be found on this link. If you would like to provide comments about this draft, you may use this form.
A Weekly Report on COVID Cases
Last week we had an additional 52 confirmed COVID cases. This brings our total since our school year began to 836 cases. There were 21 cases identified at SHS, 9 cases identified at Gallagher, 8 cases at Pleasant View Elementary, 10 cases at LaPerche Elementary and 4 cases at Old County Road Elementary.
Town COVID Test Event
The Town of Smithfield will be hosting a Walk-in COVID PCR Test and At-Home Test Kit Pickup Event on Saturday, February 5th from 9:00AM - 11:00 AM at the Smithfield Senior Center (1 William J. Hawkins, Jr. Trail). As part of our free walk-in testing event, at-home testing kits will be given out to each person tested or residents may pick-up a kit, one (1) kit per car - includes two tests) at the drive-up point and test at home. There is a limited supply of At-home Test Kits and PCR Tests which will be given out on a first-come, first-serve basis to SMITHFIELD RESIDENTS ONLY (ID required) until the supply runs out. No early arrivals. To accommodate increased traffic expected, please use the Indian Run Trail side of Deerfield Park to access the Senior Center and use the Deerfield Drive side to exit.
Pfizer Pediatric COVID Vaccination Clinic
There will be a Pfizer pediatric COVID vaccination clinic held Saturday, February 5th from 10:00am - 2:00pm at Old County Road Elementary School. To register, please visit vaccinateri.org.
Mask Mandate Extended
This week, Governor. McKee, extended the following Executive Orders:
Executive Order 21-87 (Requiring Masks in Schools) (through February 14th)
Executive Order 21-109 (Declaration of Disaster Emergency for New COVID-19 Variants) (through March 4th)
Executive Order 22-01 (Allowing Remote Participation in Public Meetings) (through February 14th)
Executive Order 22-06 (Quarantine and Isolation Order) (through February 14th)
Additionally, the RI chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics shared a letter in support of a school mask mandate to protect children’s health in this pandemic. Excerpts from their letter are provided below:
- Pediatric cases do not drive the community transmission rates, but rather they reflect the community rates.
-Pediatric case rates are notably higher in unvaccinated children.
Because of the high transmission rates and the high case counts, it is imperative Rhode Island adheres to the CDC recommendation of indoor masking with a high-quality mask for all individuals 2 years old and older, including vaccinated AND unvaccinated individuals. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends indoor masking for all students, teachers, faculty, and staff who learn and work in K-12 settings.
Vaccines against COVID-19 are safe and effective. While no vaccine can boast being 100% effective at preventing all disease, the COVID vaccine has shown that it protects individuals from serious illness and that breakthrough cases are less likely to result in severe illness, hospitalization, or death.
The number of weekly new cases in Smithfield has returned to levels seen just before the holidays. The weekly number for the week ending January 29th fell to 200 cases, from 321 the week prior. The number of cases in the state has also decreased to 9,717 cases for that same week. The town rate corresponds to a weekly rate of 909 new cases per 100,000 residents. Since 100 or more is still considered a high rate of transmission as classified by the CDC, we still have a long way to go. This data is available at https://bit.ly/2PxCgDM.
Judy Paolucci, Superintendent