November 13, 2020
Dear Students, Staff, and Families,
I hope everyone is doing okay during what is a challenging time for everyone. Many of us are just doing the best that we can under the circumstances. As you know, there are a growing number of positive Covid-19 cases in Rhode Island and across the country. We continue to have positive cases reported to us that have required us to take action in several schools.
As I mentioned to you in the past, we are able to respond differently to the elementary and middle school cases than those at the high school. Students at the elementary and middle schools are in stable pods. When we learn that a student in a stable pod tests positive, we are able to do distance learning with just the pod until we get direction from RIDOH. Unfortunately, we can not do the same thing with the high school since students are not in stable pods. High school students are in multiple classrooms with different clusters of students in every classroom. Passing time is also an issue at the high school. That is why we have no choice but to do distance learning until we receive direction from RIDOH.
Provided below are other issues for your review:
Please know that Tuesday, November 24th, will be changed from an in-person day to a distance learning day for all students and staff in the district.
New guidance on face masks was released by the Education Operations Center. Unfortunately, the guidance is more restrictive. Updated 11/10/20: If a student removes their mask, ensure the student is 6+ feet apart from others and redirect the student to put it back on. Scheduled mask breaks are not encouraged.
Much of our time as administrators is dealing with the impact of the coronavirus. When there is a positive case, a wealth of information is required by the Department of Health to complete contact tracing. However, it is important for everyone to know that the Assistant Superintendent, Tony DiManna and his team are working hard. They continue to work with staff on analyzing data and having discussions on what can be done to improve the academic performance of students. I want everyone to know that that important work continues.
Superintendents met with Dr. Ashish Jha yesterday. Ashish Jha is the Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. You may have seen Dr. Jha on the Today Show or other shows. He is an expert on public health and is very honest about what he feels should be done in this country to mitigate the spread of the virus. Dr. Jha stated that it’s best for students to be in school. However, he understands the difficult decisions superintendents have to make especially when it comes to high schools. He also stated that social distancing was important and 6 feet is better than 3 feet whenever possible. However, he said he would be comfortable with 3 feet of social distancing for his child if students were required to wear a mask.
As always, we appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate our way through this challenging time. Have a great weekend.
Robert A. Mitchell
Superintendent of Schools