September 26, 2021
Don Cowart, Assistant Superintendent
Coventry Public Schools Statement Regarding the Increase in COVID Cases at Coventry High School
On September 24, 2021, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) requested a meeting with Coventry High School and Coventry School District administration and nurses to discuss the significant increase in the number of positive COVID cases among students, faculty, and staff at Coventry High School. At that time there were 37 identified positive cases since the beginning of the school year, with 21 reported over the last two weeks. Many of these cases have just been brought to the school’s attention over the last few days and case investigation/contact tracing has not been completed. RIDOH also believes there could be more cases identified over the next week. In response to this situation, a multilayered plan is being put in place.
Coventry is working on the following items to mitigate the current spike in cases and keep everyone safe while working to maintain in-person education long-term.
- A letter was sent to the CHS families explaining the situation and the urgency of the matter. It also is requesting folks continue to get tested, follow masking guidelines, stay home when sick, and notify the school/RIDOH of positive cases.
- A testing event is being scheduled for next Friday 9/30 at 9:00 am at CHS. Students under 16 will need parental consent.
- Our local Coventry EMA team is scheduling another school day and after school day vaccination clinic for the first week of October.
- CHS will be on Distance Learning on Monday 9/27 and Tuesday 9/28. Wednesday 9/29 was already a planned Professional Development day and students are at home with asynchronous learning. Beginning Thursday 9/30 students will shift to a 12:30 early release schedule in which they will take their lunches as "Grab and Go.” We will revisit the school schedule following further guidance from RIDOH.
- A follow-up meeting with RIDOH is being scheduled for the week of 9/27.
- Regarding athletics, students who can produce a vaccination card, recent negative PCR test, and are asymptomatic may participate in athletic events. Spectators at home events are limited to parents until contact tracing is complete and everyone has been notified.
The rationale behind these recommendations is to inform the Coventry High School community of the large number of new cases as well provide some guidance on what is going to be done to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at CHS. The in-school testing event is scheduled so that students and staff can be tested if they are unable to get tested at one of the state sites and the vaccination clinic is in place for those who would like to get vaccinated and haven’t done so yet. The decision to move to distance learning was made so the school personnel can continue contact tracing the cases that have already been identified and to notify close contacts. Doing this while the building is empty of students gives all the administrative staff, nursing staff and clerks to assist with the process, time to complete the process without interruption and keeps the students safely at home. One positive case can take many hours to investigate and communicate with close contacts. Finally, the only sustained time students are unmasked is during lunch. Early release temporarily eliminates the opportunity of the virus to spread while students are eating. Once cases significantly decrease, we will revisit the schedule and decide the next course of action.
We are asking our CHS students and families to:
- Speak with children about the importance of proper mask wearing at all times when they are in the classrooms or hallways. This includes always covering their nose with the mask, as this is the primary entry point for COVID infection.
- Students need to stay home and get tested if they have any COVID symptoms.
- Students and siblings need to get tested if they have been (or think they have been) in close contact with a friend or classmate who they know is COVID-positive.
- Answer the phone if RIDOH or the school calls during the day or evening
- Please consider getting your children vaccinated if they are not. If they are identified as a close contact this will ensure that they can return to class sooner rather than have to be quarantined for 10 days before returning to school.
Coventry Schools understands that the fluidity and the unknown of this situation is extremely challenging for students, parents, faculty, and staff. Our circumstances and responses will continue to evolve and change over time as we monitor, adapt and learn how to best keep everyone safe.
We thank the community for their support as we continue to navigate through these unprecedented times.