March 19, 2021
Dear Students, Staff, and Families,
I hope everyone is doing well and that the news of the increasing number of individuals being vaccinated is bringing some needed comfort during what has been a trying time to all of us. In fact, all of Cumberland’s school employees will have a second opportunity for their first vaccination this afternoon. The second vaccination is scheduled for early April.
Listed below are a number of items for your review:
I am pleased to report that grades K through 9 and grade 12 are in-person learning for 4 days per week. It is clear that students and staff are happy to be closer to a more normal schedule. The high school is planning for the return of grades 10 and 11. The goal is to get them in as soon as possible.
Laura Canavan and Dennis Mendes for the Education Operations Center (EDOC) visited McCourt, NCMS, and the high school on Thursday to assess how those schools are responding to having all students in for 4 days for the first time in a year. They were pleased with all of the safety measures that have been put in place at all of the schools. I often think that parents would be pleased if they were able to see how much planning has taken place to keep students and staff safe.
As mentioned in previous communications, the biggest challenge for schools has been traffic flow at the beginning and end of the school day. The police have been very helpful in addressing this concern. One of the more challenging areas is the flow of traffic onto Nate Whipple Highway from NCMS. I am pleased to report that there has been an ongoing collaboration between Principal Beth Coughlin, the Cumberland Police Department, especially Captain Iozzi, Mayor Mutter, and the residents of Staples Rd., that has led to a mutually beneficial safety plan for the school. Thank you to everyone involved in this process.
We have learned that the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), EDOC, and the Department of Health are working to increase the number of students allowed to ride the bus. The goal is to increase ridership capacity to at least 65%. We will be sure to let you know if any changes are made to the number of students allowed to ride our buses.
As you know, despite the ramifications of the pandemic, RIDE expects every student in the state to take RICAS. We have been told repeatedly that there are no exemptions except for medical exemptions. Per RIDE, there are no opt-outs. Please know that we have a responsibility to carry out this directive. As a result, all students, including students who are distance learning, will be required to come to school and take this assessment. Plans are being developed and more information will be forthcoming.
The updated COVID-19 spreadsheet is provided for your review.
As a reminder, Rhode Island PBS is excited to announce that Cumberland was selected to be featured in the next episode of the popular local series – Our Town! The Cumberland episode will premiere in September of 2021. I have been asked to invite Cumberland families and friends to a virtual informational meeting with PBS at 6:00 p.m. on March 31st. If you are interested in learning more, please use this registration link to attend the meeting on the 31st.
Also, Sodexo Food Service is hiring part-time positions for 4 or 6 hours per day – school hours, no weekends or holidays. No experience is required; we will train you!
Please visit the website https://us.sodexo.com/careers and search Cumberland, RI.
We are slowly but surely getting back to some sense of normalcy, We need to keep our guard up and stay vigilant with our mitigation measures. We are focused on getting our 10th and 11th graders in now. As always, thank you for your patience and understanding as we work our way back to a more normal routine. Have a good weekend.
Robert A. Mitchell
Superintendent of Schools