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Update for the Week of September 7th
Update for the Week of September 7th
Paul Barrette
Monday, September 07, 2020

Hello OCRS families,

I hope that you have been enjoying these last "unofficial" days of summer, especially the amazing weather we've had this Labor Day weekend. This week teachers and staff will be returning to school beginning on Wednesday to get everything ready for the first day of school for all students, both in-person and virtual. We are all looking forward to reconnecting with our students on Monday, September 14th!

Return to School Planning Report #12

On Friday Dr. Paolucci shared the twelfth 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/301873.

Teacher Assignments

Teacher assignments were emailed on Friday to the families of all students in grades 1 through 5, both for students registered to begin school in-person or via virtual learning. Kindergarten families received a separate email this weekend with some information about the Kindergarten screening process. More information about Kindergarten screening will be shared later this week.

Transportation Information

The district has been working hard with our bus transportation company, Durham, to get bus routes and times completed. That information should be finalized this week. Once we receive it at the school level, we will email it out to families. Families of students who are in the "Walk Zone" should have already received communication from the district.

Morning Student Drop-off

Construction and COVID-19 protocols mean some changes to the morning student drop-off procedure for this school year. We have been working with the Smithfield Police and Fire Departments to map out the safest morning drop-of route and procedure. Please see the steps below:

Morning arrival does not begin this year until 8:10 a.m., a 15 minute change when compared to last year. Please plan accordingly. The school doors will not open prior to 8:10 a.m.

  1. Parent vehicles and school buses will enter the campus using the entrance on the right (north) side of the building.

  2. Separate lanes for parent drop-off and buses have been clearly marked using paint and cones as you enter the parking lot. Parent drop-off will stay in the left lane while school buses will stay in the right lane. School buses will continue around the outside of the parking lot and proceed behind the school to the south side of the building where the gym is located.

  3. Parent vehicles will follow their lane to loop around the visitor parking spaces back to the entrance at Door 10. A student drop-off zone has been clearly marked with cones right in front of Door 10. Students will exit their parent's vehicle and proceed directly to the school staff members who will be waiting to collect their daily health screening ticket and to take their temperature with a touchless thermometer.

  4. When the student has safely entered Door 10, the parent vehicle will proceed to exit the campus via the same exit that was used to enter the campus.

Because this is a slightly different procedure than last year, we anticipate that it will take a few days for parents and students to get used to the new routine. We appreciate your patience and flexibility as we all get used to the new routine and work out any kinks that become apparent.

Welcome New Teachers and Staff

As I shared with families last week, Mrs. Sisco, Mrs. DePetrillo, and Mrs. Guillemette are taking 1-year leaves of absence for this school year. Even though we will miss them this year, we completely support the decisions that they have made for their families and themselves. We have been working very hard to find excellent, qualified teachers and staff to join our school community for this year and we are excited to share the latest additions with families. In response to some questions from families, all of the teachers hired this year in a 1-year position have been hired as full-time teachers, not as long-term substitutes, and all are fully certified by the R.I. Department of Education.

  • Nicole Rochefort, a recent graduate of Rhode Island College, will be joining us as a 5th grade teacher. She is certified in both elementary education and special education and Ms. Rochefort will be teaching 5th grade at OCRS for the entire upcoming school year while Mrs. Guillemette is out on leave. She comes to us highly recommended by Jessica Borges, Winsor's new assistant principal, and we are excited to welcome Ms. Rochefort to 5th grade!
  • Gina Tripodi, a recent graduate of Johnson and Wales University, will be joining us as a 5th grade teacher. She is certified in both elementary education and special education and Ms. Tripodi will be teaching 5th grade at OCRS for the entire upcoming school year while Mrs. DePetrillo is out on leave. She comes to us highly recommended by the principal of Hope Valley Elementary School, and we are excited to welcome Ms. Tripodi to 5th grade!
  • Melena Schug, a graduate of the University of Rhode Island has been hired as the elementary music teacher for both OCRS and Winsor. Mrs. Barrette, the other music teacher for the Smithfield elementary schools (and Mr. Barrette's wife) participated as part of the interview committee and I'm sure she did an excellent job finding us a terrific music teacher! Ms. Schug doesn't yet know about how much we like to sing as a school (even if that is an activity we need to refrain from this year), but I will make sure to share some of our videos from last year.
  • Malissa Lima has been hired as a full-time special education paraprofessional for OCRS. Mrs. Lima was so good as a long-term substitute for our school last year that we made sure not to let her go! We know that our students will be happy to see Mrs. Lima next week, both in-person and virtually.

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. Also, continue to check out the OCRS "Who is under that mask campaign?" on our Facebook pagewhere for the past few weeks we have been posting photos of teachers and staff wearing masks so students can get used to seeing some of their favorite OCRS faces wearing masks!

 

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!

Sincerely,
Mr. Barrette