December Superintendent Update

December Superintendent Update
Posted on 12/10/2021

Dear NSS Community,

Thank you for all you have been doing to support our students and teachers throughout the year. We have had a successful Fall and I am so proud of our students and staff as they have supported one another through yet another year of learning and activities disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

As we approach mid-December, I want to update you on the status of Covid-19 cases in our schools. Since the Thanksgiving holiday break, we have seen a steady increase in positive cases of Covid-19 in both students and staff. I do urge you to follow public health guidelines regarding mask wearing, vaccination, and other precautions. The infections we are experiencing are often due to exposure in group settings where people are unmasked.

I also would like to again review the guidelines from the Rhode Island Department of Health, linked here, that define if, when, and for how long a close contact of a positive individual must quarantine. To be clear, in most cases, vaccinated individuals who are a close contact are not required to quarantine, and all individuals ages 5 and above are eligible for vaccination. If you or your child needs a vaccination or a booster shot, you may sign up for a vaccination clinic at

If an unvaccinated individual is identified as a close contact, the following guidelines are in place:

Quarantine Options:

RIDOH recommends the least disruptive quarantine option:

  • 7 days from the last day an individual was in contact with the infected person if he/she gets a negative PCR test result on day 5 or later. Continue to watch for symptoms through day 14.

Other quarantine options:

  • 10 days from the last day an individual was in contact with the infected person. Continue to watch for symptoms through day 14.
  • 14 days from the last day an individual was in contact with the infected person. Safest option but more disruptive.

Testing of Close Contacts

  • Testing during quarantine is required by Executive Order.
  • The testing requirements are different depending on vaccination status. Unvaccinated close contacts must get tested as soon as they're notified that they're a close contact and again five to seven days after the exposure.
  • Fully vaccinated close contacts must get tested five to seven days after the exposure.

Return to School after Quarantine/Testing

  • A quarantined individual must get tested on day 5 or after with a PCR test, and the last day of quarantine will be Day 7. The individual can resume normal activities on day 8 and continue to monitor for symptoms through day 14.
  • If a quarantined individual gets tested earlier than day 5 he/she cannot end quarantine after day 7.
  • If an individual on quarantine tests positive for COVID-19, the person must isolate for 10 days from symptom onset or 10 days from the date of the specimen collection if the person is asymptomatic.

Exceptions to Quarantine:
People identified as close contacts are exempt from quarantine if they

  • Are fully vaccinated;
  • Have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days;
  • Meet all criteria for the Pre K-12 Close Contact Quarantine Exception (see RIDOH information below);
  • Are Pre K-12 students or staff and the exposure happened during outdoor recess at school; or
  • Were exposed on a PreK-12 school bus and windows were open, everyone wore face masks, and both the driver and at least one additional adult were present to confirm proper mask use and open windows.


We want to keep our students safely in school. By following RIDOH guidelines, we are able to prevent community spread within a school and a potential lengthy closure or switch to full distance learning. However, this only works if we all do our part.

Please understand that our nurses, teachers and administrators are educators trying their best to keep everyone safe by following the guidelines of the experts at RIDOH. We do not have the discretion to modify or change the above public health protocols. We know that contact tracing is not a perfect system and there are bound to be unintentional errors or occasional inaccuracies. We welcome the input and feedback of students and parents in the process.

In-School Covid-19 Testing
If you have not done so already, I encourage you to give permission for your child to participate in regular Covid-19 screening. This will help schools and families identify cases early and to prevent community spread. Permission slips can be found at this link and returned to your child’s teacher or school nurse. Likewise, if your child has been vaccinated, please provide proof of vaccination to the school nurse so he/she can remain in school if identified as a close contact.

Test to Stay Program
There has been a great deal of media attention on the “test to stay” program, and more information can be found at this link: test to stay. It is important to note that per state program rules, only students in grades K-6 are eligible for participation. Narragansett is in the application process for approval, and I will send more information when that approval has been granted.

Over the coming weeks, many families will be traveling locally, nationally, and, in some cases, internationally. Please know there are differing quarantine requirements, particularly for unvaccinated individuals, which can be found at the RIDOH website, linked here. We also ask that families who have traveled to known “hot spots” in the United States follow RIDOH and CDC guidance and test for Covid-19 upon return.

Keeping one another safe requires cooperation, communication, and a collective willingness to follow the rules, even when inconvenient or individually problematic. We do understand that for many families, responsibilities from work or other areas are significant impediments to caring for quarantined students and add significant stress to an already challenging situation. We are prepared to help in any way we can, and I encourage you to talk with your principal to access support.

Wishing you all the best during this Holiday Season,

Peter J. Cummings, Ed.D