March 26, 2021
Dear Students, Staff, and Families,
Happy Friday everyone. I hope everyone is doing well. My wife and I received our second vaccination on Wednesday. I know that more and more Rhode Islanders will have the opportunity to get vaccinated and I believe everyone will be more at ease as a result. Things are looking up.
Listed below are a number of items for your review:
I am pleased to report that grades 10 and 11 will return to school for 4 days of in-person learning effective April 6th. We got the go ahead from the Education Operations Center (EDOC) to bring them back. Mr. Costa will be sharing more detailed information with students and staff over the next few days. As a result, all students in grades Kindergarten through 12 will be in for 4 days of in-person learning per week beginning on April 6th.
As I mentioned at last night’s School Committee meeting, one of our challenges moving forward is scheduling RICAS for all students including distance learners. We believe we will need to use Mondays to accommodate the testing of those students. We will be sure to keep you informed of the schedule moving forward.
The Reopening of School Task Force agreed to allow students and staff to return to school on day 8 after quarantining for 7 days with proof of a negative test on or after day 5. The test can not be done before day 5. This is for students and staff who have traveled out of state and students and staff who have been identified as close contacts.
We are also hopeful that the number of students allowed to ride the bus will increase to 75% of capacity by mid April. This will be a big help to families who have been very helpful in getting their children to school. The increase in ridership will take that burden away from parents. We will be sure to let you know when that change will go into effect.
As I stated last week and again at last night’s School Committee meeting, 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 reasons. There are no opt-outs. Please know that we have a responsibility to carry out this directive. As a result, all students, including distance learners, will be required to come to school and take this assessment. Plans are being developed and more information will be forthcoming.
Congratulations to Dr. Rachel Santa and everyone associated with special education in the Cumberland School Department. Every 5 years the Rhode Island Department of Education does a support visit. RIDE representatives do an audit of files to ensure that all Federal and State indicators are being met. It is very unusual for RIDE not to find irregularities in the files. Amazingly, Cumberland has 0 findings. This is a true testament to the outstanding work of everyone associated with special education in the Cumberland School Department. Thank you all for your good work.
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 Wednesday, March 31st. If you are interested in learning more, please use this registration link to attend the meeting on the 31st.
We are slowly but surely getting back to normal. I am pleased that all students in grades K-12 will be in for at least 4 days beginning April 6th. By all accounts, students are very happy to be back in school for more in-person learning. Our next hurdle will be RICAS, SAT, and PSAT planning.
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