March 5, 2021

Dear Students, Staff, and Families,

I hope everyone is doing well. There has been encouraging news regarding the administration of the vaccine to school staff.  Plans are being developed to administer the first dose to all staff during the month of March.  We will be sure to share relevant information as soon as the plans are finalized.

 Listed below are a number of items for your review.

  • Congratulations to the students and staff of Ashton Elementary School for being nominated by the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) for consideration as a Blue Ribbon School.  The nomination is sent to the United States Department of Education.  What makes this a particularly noteworthy accomplishment, is that the nomination comes from RIDE and is based on Ashton School’s consistent excellence and the progress Ashton has made in closing the achievement gap.  Only three schools in the state are nominated for this prestigious honor.  Ashton will now complete an extensive application process that takes about a year to complete. Congratulations again to Ashton School for the outstanding work taking place there.

  • Grades K, 1, and 2 returned to school for the four days of in-person learning this week.  The transition went very well.  All of the elementary schools were visited by members of the Education Operations Center (EDOC).  As I have mentioned in previous communications, EDOC was created by Governor Raimondo to support schools in reopening to in-person learning.  The primary goal is to ensure the safety of our students and staff.  The EDOC team was impressed with all of the planning that went into the opening of our schools.

  • Grades 3, 4, and 5 will return to 4 days of in-person learning on Tuesday, March 9th.  Grade 12 will return to 4 days of in-person learning on March 9th as well.  Grades 6-8, and grade 9 will return on Tuesday, March 16th.  The high school administration is developing plans for the return of grades 10 and 11.  Cumberland School Department In-Person Return to School Presentation 

  • As I mentioned in last week’s communication, there may be some minor changes to the pickup and drop off times for students riding the buses.  We have been assured that there will not be a significant change.  However, we wanted to make parents and students aware of this possibility.  We will post the changes on the district website when we receive the schedule from the bus company.

  • After consulting with the Education Operations Center, Cumberland’s Reopening of School Task Force agreed to reduce the number of quarantine days from 14 to 10 for students who have traveled to states with a high positivity rate and those students and staff who are quarantined as a close contact.  A negative test is not required for the 10 day return if the student or staff member is asymptomatic during the quarantine period.  We will reassess this decision at our next Task Force meeting and consider reducing the quarantine time with a negative COVID test.

  • Like every other school district in the state of Rhode Island, Cumberland is having difficulty finding substitute teachers.  We believe that there may be parents interested in helping.  If you are interested and have questions, please contact our Human Resource Department at 401.658.1600 ext. 320.  We would appreciate your help.

  • The updated COVID-19 spreadsheet is provided for your review.

  • Congratulations to Mary Chandler, Special Educator at McCourt Middle School

She is the recipient of the NBC10/RIDE Golden Apple Award. We are very proud of her recognition. Here is the video clip that aired during last night’s 6:00pm news program.

  • 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.

As we transition more students back to 4 days of in-person learning, there may be a few challenges along the way.  With the news of vaccinations being made available to school staff, we are getting closer to getting everyone back to a more normal school experience.


Robert A. Mitchell

Superintendent of Schools

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