PORTSMOUTH — Portsmouth public school students will return to full in-person instruction when classes resume on Monday, Jan. 3 and will not be immediately adopting guidelines set forth by …
PORTSMOUTH — Portsmouth public school students will return to full in-person instruction when classes resume on Monday, Jan. 3, and will not be immediately adopting guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Superintendent Thomas Kenworthy made the announcement on the district’s Facebook page on Saturday, after Rhode Island public school administrators received guidance from Angélica Infante-Green, commissioner of the R.I. Department of Education (RIDE).
“Over the break there were several developments related to COVID-19 including a rise in case numbers across our state and nation and updated guidance from (CDC),” Kenworthy stated.
However, per Infante-Greene’s email to superintendents, “we will continue to follow the guidance in the most recent PK-12 Playbook from the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). We will of course continue to employ our safety and mitigation measures including masking, ventilation, and distancing,” Kenworthy said.
The superintendent urged the school district community to continue following the advice from RIDOH in efforts against COVID-19:
• Vaccinate: “Everyone eligible, including children 5 and older, should get fully vaccinated to protect against COVID-19. For those 16 and older, that includes getting a booster shot when eligible. Visit C19VaccineRI.org for more information.”
• Symptom Screening and Testing: “Monitor yourself and all household members for symptoms of COVID-19. Many of these symptoms can mirror the symptoms of the common cold or flu virus. At the first signs of symptoms stay home and isolate and test for COVID-19. For more information on testing, visit covid.ri.gov/testing.”
Here’s the full text of Infante-Green’s message to Rhode Island public school leaders:
“As you know, earlier this week, our national public health experts issued updated guidance on isolation and quarantining. While we’re working hard to incorporate that new guidance into our state-level guidelines for schools, we want to update you on our plans for Rhode Island’s return to school on January 3rd, 2022.
“ Out of an abundance of caution and with the safety of our school communities in mind, Rhode Island will not be immediately adopting the new CDC guidance into our schools as we are expecting additional information from the federal government that could help shape final school policy changes. When school reopens on Monday, we will follow the same guidance that we were following before the holiday break.
“ In the meantime, recently released CDC guidance and potential policy changes are being fully reviewed for implementation. During the upcoming week, the State of Rhode Island will work alongside our local education leaders, labor representatives, and other stakeholders to update new K-12 guidance that will meet the needs of our schools and families and reflect the new CDC guidance, including shorter quarantine periods for asymptomatic close contacts and shorter isolation periods for individuals with confirmed cases of COVID-19.
“ Our goal is to avoid confusion while we ensure that any future protocols implemented in our schools maintain the health, safety, and smooth operations of our school communities in the weeks and months to come.
“ Schools remain one of the safest places for students and staff. Over the past two years, COVID-19 spread inside schools remains limited due to layered prevention strategies in a structured setting. From early September 2021, less than 10 percent of the Pre K-12 student and staff cases were reported as due only to an exposure inside schools. This measured approach will ensure that our schools continue to be safe from the spread of COVID-19.
“We are deeply grateful to you and your colleagues for your hard work in keeping your school community safe.”