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Superintendent Smith Update September 10, 2021

Newport Families,

We are already two weeks into the school year and what a great two weeks it’s been!  Our kids are settling in their classrooms and we are off and running with both high school and middle school extra curricular activities. 

For the senior class of 2022, August 30th marked their very last first-day-of-school and we optimistically anticipate a great school year for this year’s graduates. September 2nd was the first day of kindergarten for the class of 2033; what a great group of little ones they are and we are all wishing them the best as they begin their educational journey.

While we are off to a good start, and we do expect this to be a much better year for our students, staff, and parents, we are also going to see some bumps along the way.  As you know, we are experiencing the highest rates of COVID in our county that we have seen to-date, and are dealing with a Variant that has proven to be much more transmissible for our younger population.  I am sure that you have seen nationwide, as schools are starting up, there are numerous positive cases within schools.  Last year we experienced one student-to-student transmission, which was tracked back to a bus route. This year we are preparing ourselves for greater rates of transmission between students at school. This week alone we have ten confirmed student cases, with more students at home awaiting results. While these cases have not been traced back to our schools, it shows that transmission rates are up significantly.  I want to express that, barring any type of statewide mandate or districtwide COVID outbreak, we do not intend to transition back to fully remote learning. Our intent is to manage student cases and/or outbreaks within our district but that means we may have possible short-term classroom closures due to outbreaks or staffing shortages due to COVID.  We are doing everything within our power to keep this from happening, but it may be a reality for us with the current trend we are experiencing.  With regard to that trend, I am asking that you please keep your son or daughter home if they are experiencing COVID symptoms.  

Remote Learning Option

For parents who feel that the school is not a safe environment, we do have a full remote option available to you through our Home Link Program.  Please email Amanda Driver at driveramanda@newportgriz.com if you would like to pursue this option. Amanda will provide you with an individual program to meet your son or daughter's needs.  

Covid Protocols

The following information is our district's COVID protocols when we do have a positive case on a bus, in a classroom, or in school.  In addition, please refer to our COVID-19 FAQ - RESOURCES page on our website, https://www.newportgriz.com/domain/82

Keep Symptomatic Students at Home

Many of the students we have tested and are positive have been experiencing typical cold-like symptoms and were attending school. We need you to take any and every symptom seriously in order for us to keep the virus out of our schools.  Sending a sick child to school with the highly contagious variant will force us to close entire classrooms for up to two weeks; this is avoidable. 

COVID Flow Chart

Please refer to the COVID Flow Chart on our COVID FAQs webpage for information on what to do if your son or daughter has tested positive or has been identified as a close contact.  The individual school buildings will work closely with you with regard to testing as well as when it’s safe for your child to return to school.

Contact School Immediately if Your Son or Daughter Has COVID-Type Symptoms

If your son or daughter has COVID symptoms, it is extremely important that you call the attendance line and report that you are keeping your child home due to COVID-type symptoms. It is important that you provide this information to the school, as we will need to make contact with you to identify potential close contacts in the instance that you have your son or daughter is tested and they test positive.

Son or daughter is Identified as a Close Contact

If a student is sent home with COVID like symptoms, a school official will identify who the student spent time with or sat by and, using the close contact criteria, will make a list of potential close contacts.  If, at any point, we receive word that the particular student tested positive, we will promptly review the close contact list and immediately notify parents via email, phone call, and letter.

An Individual in Your Son or Daughter’s Class Has Tested Positive

If an individual in your son or daughter's class tests positive for COVID, we will immediately notify students who are identified as a close contact.  All other parents who have a student in the class will receive a text notifying you of a positive COVID case within the classroom.

Individual in your son or daughter’s school has tested positive

If an individual in your son or daughter's school tests positive for COVID, we will immediately notify students who are identified as a close contact.  All other parents who have a student in the building will receive a text and letter notifying you of a positive COVID case within the building. 

COVID Testing

If you or your child are experiencing any COVID symptoms, please take advantage of our testing at school.  We can test our students as well as extended family, and provide you the results within 48 to 72 hours.  If you would like to be tested, please contact any of our school offices and they will connect you with our school nurse to set up an appointment.

 

To conclude, I want to thank you for your continued support as we work to keep our students safe and in school.  We are now headed into our third school year that has been impacted by the pandemic and yet, while we believe we should be or want to be at the end of this ordeal, we are at a time when our numbers are the highest and our youngest seem to be the most vulnerable.  We will continue to do everything in our power to keep our students safe and ask for your continued patience and grace as we navigate a virus that forces us to make continuous changes.

 

Best,

Dave Smith

Newport School District Superintendent