COVID Update from the Superintendent

Posted on 01/08/2021
January 8th, 2021

Dear NSS Community,

Happy New Year, and I hope you are well and in good health. As we reach the conclusion of our district-wide distance learning period surrounding the holiday break, the faculty, staff, and administration are all looking forward to a return to our school buildings this coming Monday, January 11th. Our schedules and routines will return to what they were for the majority of the Fall, and we look forward to seeing our students in person!

In order to support a safe return to school, the Narragansett School System has chosen to participate in a voluntary in-school COVID-19 testing program sponsored by the Rhode Island Department of Health. As we have heard from local and national experts, a key strategy in battling the spread of COVID 19 is frequent testing of as many members of the community as possible. The in-school testing program is an opportunity to put that strategy into action, and I encourage you to have your children participate in this non-invasive rapid test. The more members of our community who participate, the safer our students, staff, and families will be.

This in-school testing is completely voluntary and will be administered by school nurses and staff, and the testing data will be shared with RIDOH. This testing opportunity uses the rapid BINAX test, and results will be available within an hour. We hope to test about 25% of each school population each week, including students, faculty, staff, and administration. Complete details regarding our testing plan can be found at the following link: http://nssk12.org/school_reopening_2020/covidtesting

In order to participate, we ask that each family fill out the permission form linked here (it is a fillable PDF): Covid-19 Testing Consent Form

Forms may be retuned hard copy to the school nurse of your child’s school or by email to our nurses at the following addresses:

NES: Mrs. Ruscito, lruscito@nssk12.org
NPS: Mrs. Fair, mfair@nssk12.org
NHS: Mrs. Field, kfield@nssk12.org

If returning by email, please include in the subject line your child’s name, grade, and the phase “Covid-19 Testing Consent Form.”

In addition to testing segments of our school populations regularly, we will also be conducting weekly rapid tests of student athletes at the high school and middle school. Again, frequent testing has been proven to be an effective strategy to help prevent the spread of the virus, and indoor winter sports may be more vulnerable to virus spread than those played outdoors in the fall. It is our hope that frequent testing will help keep our athletes, coaches, and opposing teams as safe as possible.

While we will continue to do all we can to prevent the spread of the virus within our schools, we also need your continued assistance to keep the virus contained. Please keep your child home when he or she exhibits any signs or symptoms of illness. Additionally, if a student is awaiting the outcome of a COVID-19 test, please keep him or her at home until the outcome of the test is known. Finally, if you suspect a student or a family member has been exposed to Covid-19, please keep your student home, get him or her tested, and then return to in-person learning when you know he or she is negative. The linked K-12 Playbook from RIDOH is a useful resource document that summarizes the public health guidance we follow in the operation of our schools, and I strongly encourage you to look through it to better understand the protocols we follow.
Finally, if your family traveled out of state over the holidays or during distance learning, the guidance from RIDOH is as follows:

TESTING

While there are some limited exceptions for “testing out” of quarantine after travel, RIDOH recommends a 14-day quarantine for school settings. If your child or family has traveled out of state, please discuss your options with your school principal.

I am eager to have our students safely back in our classrooms, and please know that we will continue to closely monitor infections in partnership with RIDOH and will inform the school community if there is a positive case in a school setting. While there is hope on the horizon with the development of effective vaccines, we must still be vigilant and do all that we can to prevent the spread of the virus. Unfortunately, it seems that it will be some time before the vaccines are widely available. I encourage you to continue to help your children to maintain social distancing, to keep gatherings to a minimum and ideally within a household, and to wear a mask in public and whenever in contact with someone outside of your household.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the turbulent times facing our nation this week. Many children and families may feel unsettled or stressed, particularly if a student or family has previously experienced trauma. The linked resources from the National Association of School Psychologists has tips for caregivers and tips for educators, and I encourage you to reach out to your school’s psychologist, guidance counselors, or administrators if you or your child need support.

Please contact me should you have any questions.

Sincerely,
Peter J. Cummings, Ed. D
Superintendent