Hello OCRS families,
The Governor announced yesterday that all R.I. public school districts, with the exception of Central Falls and Providence, were given the green light to reopen school in person on Monday September 14th. Smithfield has been working hard for months to plan and prepare for a safe and successful reopening of school and we are ready as teachers and staff to put those plans into action for our students. While it is normal for everyone to feel some level of anxiety about returning to school, we are so excited to welcome our students back to OCRS on the 14th!
Mask Wearing Guidance and Information
We know that there is a LOT of information swirling around on social media, some of which is inaccurate, so here is the most recent information that we have about wearing face masks at school.
- The latest guidance from RIDE and RIDOH since July 29th is that all students and staff will be required to wear masks while at school.
- Students will be able to remove masks while eating and during scheduled mask breaks. Students will need to wear masks outside during recess.
- Families should send students to school with at least one clean mask clearly labelled with your child's name every day. If a student needs a mask, the school will be able to assist.
What types of masks are acceptable for school?
Per new CDC guidance, bandanas and neck gaiters are not recommended as face masks. Cloth face coverings need to be at least two layers thick and should also fit snugly around the nose, mouth, and chin. Masks should not have any sort of valve or vent as these can allow for droplets to pass through the mask when we exhale. Face shields can be worn in addition to a mask, but a face shield does not replace the need to wear a mask.
Tips for helping students get ready to wear a mask at school
We know that wearing a mask may be challenging for some students, so it's important that students begin to practice now to build up their endurance and get used to wearing a mask throughout the day. One suggestion is to try a variety of types of masks until you find what works best for your child. Also, if you allow your child to pick out their own colors/patterns for their masks, they may be more excited to wear them to school and to keep them on throughout the day.
Staff changes this school year
Similar to how Smithfield has provided an option for families to choose a Virtual Learning Option if they do not feel comfortable with their child returning to school in person, the district has offered teachers and staff members the opportunity to take a 1-year leave if they have medical or family reasons that would make an in person return to school difficult.
After the Governor's announcement yesterday that R.I. public schools will be returning to school in person, three teachers at Old County Road School confirmed that they will be taking 1-year leaves for this school year; Mrs. Sisco (Kindergarten), Mrs. DePetrillo (5th grade), and Mrs. Guillemette (5th grade). This has been an extremely difficult decision for all three teachers and, even though we will miss them this school year, we completely support the decisions that they have made for their families and themselves. We are looking forward to the opportunity to welcome Mrs. Sisco, Mrs. DePetrillo, and Mrs. Guillemette back to OCRS the following school year.
Mr. Barrette and a team of OCRS teachers have already begun interviewing candidates to serve as Kindergarten and 5th grade teachers for this school year. We are confident that we will have excellent, qualified teachers in place before the first day of school for students on September 14th. As soon as those teachers are officially appointed, Mr. Barrette will share that information with OCRS families.
Reopening Plans and Information
The best place for all families to find the latest and most up to date information about Smithfield's reopening plans is on the district's website on the "COVID-19 Info" section, https://www.smithfield-ps.org/o/smithfield-public-schools/page/reopening-updates. This information includes all of the steps and protocols that the district and all six schools have put into place to keep our students, teachers, and staff safe this school year.
Mr. Barrette has been sharing regular updates specific for OCRS families throughout the summer and those can all be found on the Old County Road School website at https://oldcounty.smithfield-ps.org/news. You can also view the informational presentation from the August 19th OCRS Family Forum at https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1grUnF8kzna5bLtKFW4G9mI5PpopaB_FXqUCNgy-i3Tw/edit?usp=sharing.
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 to support each other throughout this school year. We are truly looking forward to welcoming our students back on the 14th!