Reopening Update 9/11/2020

Reopening Update 9/11/2020
Posted on 09/11/2020

September 11th, 2020

Dear Parents, 

I hope these final days of summer find you safe and well and have been an opportunity for your families to connect and to enjoy all that our area has to offer. As you know, we return to school this coming Monday, September 14th, and I want to ensure you have as much information as possible before we begin. I appreciate your support as we have prepared for the first day of school, and I also would like to reiterate that the home-school partnership is even more important now than ever before. We will all need to have patience and understanding as we navigate these new conditions, and I appreciate your support of your children and our faculty, staff, and administrators.

Health and Safety Inspections:

We have spent the time since we left school last March ensuring we will be as safe as possible when we return. We recently participated in the walkthroughs initiated by the Governor and the Rhode Island Department of Health and all of our facilities met or exceed the standards to open safely. That being said, we have worked hard to go beyond the base criteria wherever possible. We have increased ventilation, stationed hand sanitizer and hand washing stations throughout each building, and ensured there are spare masks and other PPE available in each classroom.


All students who will be taking the bus this year are required to wear a mask. Seating will be one student per seat, and all students will have assigned seating on the bus. However, students in the same immediate family may share a seat. All bus windows will be open. Students will be asked to use the hand sanitizer available in the bus doorway upon entry and exit from the bus. Bus routes have been posted on our website at this link: NSS bus routes.

Each school will have multiple entrances for students, and each principal has written to families with the details for their school. These letters are posted on our “return to school” web page at:

We anticipate that drop off and pick up will be challenging at all of our schools in the first days of school as we establish routines and troubleshoot any issues. We ask for your patience and advise that you allot extra time for drop off and pick up. Each school has sent detailed information to parents, and if you have further questions please contact your school principal.


At this time, our schools are fully staffed. We have had several teachers retire, so you will see some new faces in our schools. Additionally, we have had some administrative changes. Our high school Assistant Principal, Mr. Gibbons, has been named Principal of East Providence High School, and we wish him all the best as he begins his new role. We have started the search for his successor. Additionally, our middle school/elementary school Assistant Principal, Mr. Tetreault, has accepted an administrative role in Chariho, and we also wish him success in his new position. We have split the Assistant Principal position, and Ms. Emily Cartier has been named part-time Dean of Students at the middle school, and Mrs. Tracey Mccallig has been named part-time Dean of Students at the elementary school in addition to their other district duties.

At our high school, we do have a limited number of teachers who will be distance teaching their classes. These classes will also have in-person coverage to support our students.

Masks and Social Distancing: 

We require that each child wear a face covering on the bus and in school throughout the day, with some individual exceptions based on medical necessity. Masks should cover the mouth and nose, be two layers or more, and be of a design or pattern that is appropriate for school. Please follow these CDC guidelines when selecting a mask for use at school. 

The Narragansett School Committee has approved a “mask policy”, linked here, that is guiding our approach to having all students who are able to wear face coverings while in school. This is a nonnegotiable for students and staff: all persons who are able are required to wear a mask unless specifically allowed to remove it during a supervised “mask break.” These breaks will be scheduled throughout the day and will require students to be separated by over 6 feet and be outside or in another well ventilated area. 

Each school will have a procedure to address incidents should a student willfully refuse to comply with the mask requirement. 

Information from School Nurses

Please read the information from our school nurses linked here.

Daily Attestation of Screening for Students and Staff

Students and staff will be asked to self-screen for daily COVID symptoms. We will begin the year using a district based electronic form and expect an “app” to be up and running in the month of September. We are NOT collecting detailed medical information. We are asking parents/guardians to affirm on a daily basis that each family has screened their children for COVID symptoms and is keeping their student(s) home and contacting their physician if there is a symptom or a risk factor. It is a “yes/no” attestation. The link will be sent to families by email and text each morning until the app is operational. The building administration and nurse will review and confirm that all families have completed the self-screen. Individual student and family data is confidential and not shared outside of the district. Additionally, each student and staff member will be screened for elevated temperature when arriving at school, and will be further assessed should her or his temperature be elevated. 

Air Quality and Ventilation

There has rightfully been a great deal of recent attention given to how the virus spreads in an airborne manner and the ventilation capacity of school buildings. We have been diligently working over the past months to apply the available research regarding the spread of the virus to our facilities plan. The most recent guidance from RIDE and RIDOH, Covid-19 Facilities and Physical Plant Guidance, focuses on increasing air flow and outdoor air ventilation.

We have fully inspected all classrooms, offices, and hallways to ensure all spaces comply with this standard, and have supplemented our base systems with additional ventilation mechanisms to fully meet or exceed the above requirements.  We have also had an engineering firm independently test all classrooms to ensure we are meeting the standard.

We also recognize that a strongly recommended way to minimize possible spread of the virus is to keep a strong flow of fresh air moving through classrooms and buildings. As indicated above, we have adjusted our HVAC units to take in as much outside air as possible, have instructed teachers to keep windows and classroom doors open to increase air flow, installed fans where necessary, and have set up outside learning and dining areas at each school. We have also created “negative air pressure” isolation rooms where a sick child can wait for a parent pick up while venting the air outside of the building. 

Response to Possible COVID-19 Cases/Exposure

Each of our schools has a detailed action plan regarding how to respond when a student or staff member may have a case of COVID-19 or have been exposed to a person with a case of COVID-19, available here: NSS Protocol Possible Covid-19 Case.  In each instance, our schools will follow the protocols and case investigation guidelines published by RIDOH and RIDE, available here: outbreak response protocol; case investigation protocol.

Schedule for Reopening:  

NHS and NPS: We are planning for a transition period of 10 school days (September 14-September 25) of hybrid instruction for grades 6-12 (NPS and NHS) to allow for safety training, lower numbers of students in buildings, and refining of routines and precautions. Please note that 5th grade students at the Pier school will attend school daily to ease their transition to middle school

Students are assigned to a “Red” or “White” team by grade level, and should attend according to the following schedule (please follothis link or visit our website for a calendar view):

Week of September 14th: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: Red; Tuesday, Friday: White

Week of September 21st: Monday, Thursday: Red; Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: White

Week of September 28th: All students begin daily in person classes.

Students whose IEPs or other circumstances necessitate daily attendance will be allowed to do so. All NHS and NPS students will begin daily attendance on Monday, September 28th.  

NES: All elementary students (PK-4) will fully return to school beginning on September 14, as distance learning for our early grades is not as conducive as in-person learning in establishing the critical routines and structures necessary for effective instruction. 

Distance Learning Structure and Expectations

We have many “lessons learned” from our distance learning experiences last spring. We have examined available research, incorporated feedback from families, teachers, and students, and considered various approaches. Distance learning this fall will, consequently, look and feel a bit different than the Spring. 

At NHS and NPS, students who have either opted for full distance learning or students who are scheduled for a distance learning day in a hybrid model will follow their typical schedule and access the “live” class through Zoom. Students are required to sign in to class remotely at the same times as if they were attending in school. Teachers will design lessons so remote students can access and participate in learning activities, ask questions, and otherwise be a member of each class. Support teachers and counselors will regularly check in with distance learning students to ensure their engagement and progress. NPS and NHS remote students should plan on following their full schedules, with breaks during scheduled lunch or study periods. 

At NES, there will be distance learning cohorts at each grade level with a dedicated teacher for distance learning students. Rather than “zooming” into class, our younger learners will work with teachers in these cohorts to engage in similar lessons and address the same standards as is happening in our “live” classes. The schedule for our distance learning elementary students will be reflective of guidance regarding age-appropriate capacity to attend to on-line instruction. However, all students will have regular “live” interaction with their teacher. 

Each school will further communicate distance learning expectations with students and parents before school begins and during the orientation meetings. 

Food Service

Lunch will be available at all schools. The elementary school will eat in their classrooms, and the middle and high schools will eat in their stable groups in the cafeteria, a tent at each school, or other larger designated spaces. The federal government is allowing Narragansett to provide our base meals to all students at no cost until December as a continuation of our summer food program, though there will be a cost for the “a la carte” extras. You will receive more information on this program in a separate email.

I also encourage families to fill out the linked application for free and reduced lunch, particularly if encountering financial difficulties. This will ensure your children will be able to eat for free or at a reduced cost for the entire school year.

Sports and School Activities

The Rhode Island Interscholastic League (High School) has determined that all fall sports except football and volleyball may compete this fall with restrictions and a limited schedule. Practices may begin on September 21st. The Rhode Island Principals Committee on Athletics (Middle School) has determined that no middle school sports will be played this fall. They do intend to have a “make up” season of fall sports in the spring. All schools do intend to have some after school activities if students can remain socially distanced and masked during the activity. You will receive more details from each school as soon as we have more information. 


We will do everything we can to keep our students, staff, and families as safe as possible when we return to school Monday. While we can never eliminate all risk, we have prepared our schools to limit exposure and implement practices and protocols to ensure we are responding to possible cases quickly and effectively. We will communicate with you regularly and notify you in partnership with RIDOH should there be health concerns in any given school. 

We will need your support and partnership as we navigate these uncharted waters. I have deeply appreciated your suggestions, feedback, and outreach, and encourage you to continue to engage with your children’s teachers, principals, and with me. There will inevitably be lessons learned and new information that will cause us to grow and adjust our practices as we go through the re-entry process, and I thank you for your flexibility and patience as we get through this together. 

As always, please reach out should you have any questions.


Dr. Peter Cummings