March 25, 2022
Dear Smithfield Staff and Families,
This 28th edition of the Back to School report includes our weekly report on COVID cases along with information about isolation and quarantine, testing information, household contacts, additional at-home test availability and town data.
A Weekly Report on COVID Cases
Over the past week, we have had an additional 18 confirmed COVID cases. This brings our total since our school year began to 930 cases. There were 3 cases identified at SHS, 9 cases identified at Gallagher, 2 cases at Pleasant View Elementary, 2 cases at LaPerche Elementary and 2 cases at Old County Road Elementary. We have also seen a rise in other communicable diseases. Remember that good hygiene and other practices we have been advocating for COVID mitigation also protect us from other communicable diseases.
The Case for Isolation and Quarantine
The CDC shortened isolation and quarantine to 5 days because the highest risk for transmission occurs 2 days prior to symptom onset/date of testing and 2 days following the day of symptom onset. However, there remains some risk after 5 days and people should wear well-fitting masks for days 6-10 in order to protect others from the virus.
Students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate at home for at least 5 days, or until their symptoms have improved and they’ve been fever-free for at least 24 hours without fever-reducing medication, and wear a well-fitting mask around others for 5 more days. Those with moderate to severe illness or who are immunocompromised should isolate longer and consult with their doctor. Those with symptoms who do not get tested are presumed positive and should follow this protocol as well.
Students or staff with symptoms should be tested to determine if they are infected with COVID-19. If a test is positive or if the person refuses to be tested, that person should be presumed to be positive and should follow the isolation protocol, described above. If a PCR test is negative, the person can return to the school environment after symptoms have improved and there has been no fever without fever-reducing medications for 24 hours . If an at-home test is negative, the person can also return to school under those same conditions, however, we require a confirmatory test, which can be done by our school nurses upon return to school. Since at-home tests are not as accurate as in-person antigen and PCR tests, the confirmatory test provides another layer of confidence that the person is not infected with COVID-19. The flowchart, below, may help to understand this protocol:
Unvaccinated household contacts who cannot separate from the infected household member need to quarantine for the positive case's 5 day isolation and then for 5 additional days for their own incubation period. On day 11 they can return to activity if symptom free and they wear a well-fitting, quality mask for 5 additional days. Vaccinated individuals are expected to wear a mask for 10 days (isolation + 5) and watch for symptoms. This is the current state guidance.
Additional At-Home Tests Available for April Break
We will again have at-home COVID tests available for each student that is interested for distribution the week prior to April Break. Each school will be reaching out to gather interest. Although our district cases have significantly decreased, members of our school community are still becoming ill from the virus. By testing prior to returning to school after break, we can do our best to identify cases and limit the further impact on our greater school community.
The weekly number of new COVID cases for the week ending March 19th has dropped from 40 cases last week to 30 cases this week. The number of cases in the state has risen from 1015 last week to 1171 this week. The town rate corresponds to a weekly rate of 136 new cases per 100,000 residents. The CDC has issued updated guidance for measuring community level risk for COVID-19. Our community rate is considered low. This data is available at https://bit.ly/2PxCgDM.
Judy Paolucci, Superintendent