October 22, 2021
Dear Smithfield Staff and Families,
This 10th edition of the Back to School report includes our weekly report on COVID cases, cafeteria practices, debunking the false positives claim, COVID grants, and town data.
A Weekly Report on COVID Cases
Another 4 cases were confirmed since the last Back to School Report for a total of 77 cases since the start of the school year. This week’s cases included 1 GMS student, 2 Pleasant View Elementary School students, and 1 Old County Road School student. There were no reported cases at SHS or LaPerche.
In response to some concerns about protocols in our elementary cafeterias that limit talking during lunch, I visited Pleasant View Elementary School on Wednesday. Student talk could be heard during the lunch period, though, admittedly, not as loudly as was the norm in previous years. While chewing their food, students did not talk but did have conversations between bites. When I went over to a table to talk with a group of students, a student politely swallowed his food, put on his mask, and told me all about his day. A potential, positive, unintended consequence may be that students will learn not to speak with their mouths full! Clearly, the climate of the room was positive and calm. Students also had plenty of social time during recess outside.
Debunk: “The PCR test has many false positives.”
Unfortunately, misinformation abounds on social media platforms and is reshared too easily. While no medical test is 100% accurate, the PCR test is the “gold standard” in the industry, with a false positive percentage of only 0.4- 0.7%. That’s 4 to 7 of every 1000 positive tests. Since our school community has had less than 400 positive cases per year, statistically, we can expect three or fewer to be false positives over the course of a year.
We have been asked how we spend our COVID grant monies. All federal and state grants are administered through an online, public portal. To access the portal, go to: https://gms.ride.ri.gov/ . Click on the search tab at the left (no need for passwords). Search for Smithfield. Click on “Smithfield.” Click on the funding application tab at the left. Be sure to change the year to 2021. ESSER and ESSER II are COVID-related grants. Anyone can review the budget and rationale (narrative).
We saw a continued drop in RI’s numbers last week and Smithfield, as well, had a significant drop in weekly cases, returning to values seen at the start of the school year. Last week, the number of new COVID cases in Smithfield was 58. This week’s figure is 32 - still at a high rate of transmission as classified by the CDC. The town rate corresponds to a weekly rate of 145 new cases per 100,000 residents. This data is available at https://bit.ly/2PxCgDM.
Judy Paolucci, Superintendent