Smithfield Staff and Families,
This 25th-and-a-half edition of the Back to School report includes updates on masks on buses and testing as well as information about our Endemic Response Team.
No Requirements for Masks on Buses
At some point, the information coming from the CDC and the US Department of Transportation were inconsistent; the CDC had dropped its recommendation for masking on buses but the US Department of Transportation had included buses for mask requirements that were set to expire on March 18th. At this time, both agencies have ended their requirements for masking on school buses. In response, we will no longer require masks on school buses.
The school department will continue to offer COVID testing for students and staff who have submitted signed consent forms. At any time, families or staff may opt to take advantage of this program. Moving forward, each person who participates in this testing will be entered into a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card. We will no longer be requiring testing for athletes or for those attending social events, such as the winter ball.
Endemic Response Team
While we are pleased to be able to return to pre-pandemic practices, we know that other variants may emerge or completely different viruses may pose a future health risk. School districts have been preparing plans to address health and other safety issues long before the start of this pandemic. We have a food defense plan and an active shooter plan. In addition, we hold fire drills, shelter-in-place drills, and other drills. We hold vision, dental, and hearing screenings. In short, while our primary mission is to educate, we address the needs of the whole child and know that mental and physical health affect learning. With this in mind, we have convened an endemic response team to review the plans previously put in place for the pandemic and to make recommendations about continued monitoring of cases, cleaning protocols, testing protocols, and to think through what levels of virus transmission may trigger additional mitigation measures. I anticipate that the team will meet over the next month before putting forward a plan for School Committee approval. Interim decisions will be made along the way and will be communicated through our weekly Back to School Reports.
Judy Paolucci, Superintendent