Dear Members of our Community,
Over the past few days, we have been notified of 11 confirmed cases of COVID among Smithfield High School football players. Our COVID response team and administrators are working with the Rhode Island Department of Health to contain the outbreak by identifying close contacts and quarantining those who are not vaccinated.
There are also 12 additional cases (35 in total since the start of the school year) of COVID within the district since I reported to you last Friday. A rise in cases 3-4 weeks after the start of school was expected, however, better adherence to COVID guidelines will serve our community better. We have had at least two cases of families sending their children to school while sick and/or while awaiting test results. This has resulted in far more quarantines and in far more spread than if the children were kept home. Additionally, some secondary students are not sitting in assigned seats on the bus and are not consistently wearing masks, especially while riding the bus.
Thank you to the majority of our families that have supported our efforts to contain the spread of this virus. Maintaining a positive attitude about guidelines and practices is essential to children’s adherence to these rules and to their mental health. We will continue to do our best to balance comfort and safety and to provide the very best educational experience for our students.
The continued rhetoric spread on social media and expressed at School Committee meetings by a vocal minority of our community about the alleged detrimental effects of mask-wearing does not set a good example for our students and, frankly, contributes toward increased risks for our students and staff. Disrespect for rules, whether they are traffic rules, school rules, school committee meeting rules, tax rules, or rules put in place for containing the spread of a virus, is a detriment to society. As adults, we have a responsibility toward our children and our community, regardless if we are in agreement with rules put in place. Our children are watching.
Judy Paolucci, Superintendent