Hello OCRS families,
Since the second half of this past week, we have been fortunate to have much more pleasant weather and I hope that you have been able to get outside to enjoy it, at least a little bit. I had a bit of a milestone this weekend when my wife and I helped my son move in for his first year of college. It doesn't seem all that long ago that he was in elementary school!
Return to School Planning Report #11
On Friday Dr. Paolucci shares the eleventh Smithfield "Return to School Planning Report" with all Smithfield families. If you have not yet read it or if you did not receive it, I strongly encourage you to read the weekly report in its entirety at https://www.smithfield-ps.org/article/297008.
The latest information from the district on Bus Transportation is included in the Return to School Planning Report, but I am also including it below for your convenience.
We are close to having all bus routes and bus stops finalized for the upcoming school year. While we usually are able to simply publish a list of stops, this year is a bit different. Children living within the walk zone will not be included on bus lists and cannot be accommodated, given the reduced number of students allowed on buses at any one time. Principals will be given bus lists and we are working on a method to share information with families. Families living within the walk zone have already received letters indicating their status.
The good news is that we were able to accommodate - EVERY DAY - all 6th graders living outside the walk zone who did not opt out of bus transportation. This means that while 7th - 12th graders will have a hybrid, A-Day, B-Day schedule, 6th graders, like the elementary grades, will have in-person instruction every day, should the governor choose this scenario for Rhode Island schools. This decision was made based upon the age of these students as well as the numbers of students who have opted for virtual learning and the availability of bus seats.
Teachers and staff began the new school year this past Wednesday
Smithfield teachers and staff members began the new school year this past Wednesday with a full day of Opening Day training and activities. Teachers also worked together on Thursday to participate in professional development mainly focused on our new elementary ELA program, ReadyGEN. It was terrific to work together again in person and to have an opportunity for all of us to practice our mask wearing and physical distancing protocols so we will be ready for the reopening of school. Teachers and staff will be working together again on September 9th, 10th, and 11th for additional planning.
Teacher assignments shared with families on Friday, September 4th
All four Smithfield elementary schools originally planned to send out classroom teacher assignments to families on August 28th. Due to the Governor delaying the announcement about school reopening scenarios until the week of August 31st, principals need additional time to balance class rosters to take into account students that will be participating in the Virtual Learning Option. We will now send classroom teacher assignments out to families on Friday, September 4th for students in Grades 1 through 5. Kindergarten families will receive information about the Kindergarten Screening process for this year so we can get to know our incoming Kindergartners and place them with the teacher that is the best fit for them.
Girls Scouts information
Please see the attached information about Girl Scouts for Smithfield families. You can view the flyer at https://5il.co/kei0
Mental health first aid for families
Similar to First Aid and CPR courses and especially during Covid-19, MHFA will help you recognize behavioral health signs & symptoms in children EARLY before they become more problematic. The course is designed to help you handle emerging & crisis situations through a series of interactive scenarios, exercises and videos led by an experienced MHFA-certified trainer. You can find more information at https://www.newportmentalhealth.org/mhfa/
Who's under that mask?
The most current guidance from the R.I. Department of Education is that all students and staff are required to wear masks while at school to mitigate the risk from COVID-19. We know that this may be challenging for some students, so it's important that we all begin to practice now to build up our endurance and get used to wearing a mask throughout the day.
As a school, we want to make this message as positive as possible, especially for our youngest students, so we have been having some fun with our "Who's under that mask?" campaign. Once a day we have been publishing a "Who's under that mask?" post on our school Facebook and Twitter pages. Families are encouraged to guess "Who is under that mask?" in the comments (if you are comfortable doing so). We will publish the answer the very next day, along with a new "Who's under that mask?" picture. Hopefully, this approach will help our students get used to seeing OCRS teachers and staff members wearing masks and encourage them to practice their own mask wearing. It's also been a fun way to introduce our new staff members for this school year!
Check out our "Who's under that mask?" posts and photos at https://www.facebook.com/OldCountyRoadSchool/
Thank you for your continued support and flexibility during this challenging time. All of the OCRS teachers and staff appreciate the positive outlook that OCRS families are taking towards the new school year. We are all going to need to demonstrate a great deal of Patience, Flexibility, and Empathy throughout this school year. No matter what return to school scenario the Governor announces this week, we are looking forward to reconnecting with all of our students and meeting our new students. We miss seeing and working with all of you!
Please keep an eye on the "News" section of district and OCRS websites, as well as our Facebook pages for the most up to date information.