Pursuant to RI General Law §16-2-9, the Smithfield School Committee has the responsibility to “provide for and ensure the implementation of federal and state laws, the regulations of the council on elementary and secondary education, and local school policies, programs, and directives.” As such, any executive orders or rules or regulations regarding the use of masks/face coverings shall be implemented in all schools in Smithfield.
It is also the responsibility of the School Committee to ensure a safe school environment. The wearing of face coverings to reduce the spread of viruses is well established. In accordance with guidance from the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics, masks shall be required for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals while inside all Smithfield schools, whether or not executive orders or regulations dictate such use.
Acceptable face coverings include masks, as well as gaiters, with two or more layers and disposable masks produced for this purpose. Loosely tied bandanas are not acceptable, nor are masks having exhalation valves or vents. Masks must cover the nose and mouth and must fit snugly against the side of the face with no gaps. Face shields do not replace the need to wear a face covering.
Mask Requirements for School Buses
In accordance with an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) dated January 29, 2021, and subsequent directives from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), masks are required to be worn on school buses. The Smithfield School Committee expects its transportation contractor to enforce this directive as well as to maintain seating charts, seat family members together, and keep windows open as much as possible.
Mask Requirements for Athletics
During sports and related activities, all athletes must follow guidance specific for their sport from the Rhode Island Interscholastic League and RI Principals’ Committee on Athletics. Masks will not be required for spectators for outdoor events; however, masking shall be consistent with this policy for spectators attending events indoors.
Penalties for Noncompliance
In accordance with RIDE guidance, there will be no penalty for a child not wearing a face covering. Instead, reminders may be appropriate. If the child is being willfully disobedient, that behavior will be addressed according to regular, disciplinary policies.
Students are expected to have a mask on hand at all times. Face coverings will be available at all schools for faculty, staff, students, and visitors who forget or do not have a face covering. When necessary and if available, teachers may use clear face coverings to improve communication.
Teachers are encouraged to use outdoor spaces for learning whenever possible, so that masks are unnecessary. Additionally, mask breaks can be allowed at times when individuals are not speaking and during physical distancing.
Face coverings may be removed when eating. Additionally, some students with special needs or certain medical conditions may be exempt from wearing a face covering during all or part of the school day. Such exemptions are under the discretion of the Director of Special Education.
The Rhode Island Department of Health defines the following transmission levels based upon the number of new cases of COVID-19 per week per 100,000 persons. The corresponding number of new cases in Smithfield is provided, given a population of approximately 21,650.
Per 100,000 In Smithfield
Low Transmission 0-9.99 0-2 (< 5)
Moderate Transmission 10-49.99 5-11
Substantial Transmission 50-99.99 12-22
High Transmission > 100 23+
Should transmission level of the virus drop to moderate or low transmission for 2 or more weeks, the superintendent may recommend that the School Committee revisit this policy.
Adopted: October 19, 2020
Revised: August 30, 2021