Meetings Go Remote; More Test Sites to Open

by | Jan 6, 2022

Gov. Dan McKee said Thursday public meetings can be conducted virtually as had been the practice between March 2020 and July 2021, citing the increase in COVID-19 cases with the combination of the Delta and Omicron variants prevalent in the state. The Town Council meeting Monday will be the first to return to all-virtual (find the agenda HERE) but all other public town meetings will be going virtual as well. 

The executive order remains in effect until Feb. 4.

In addition, McKee announced more testing sites would open on Thursday, including a drive-through site at the CCRI Warwick campus parking lot at 400 East Ave., daily between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. (with the exception of Friday, Jan. 7, which will open from noon to 8 p.m. because of the snow storm). Appointments are required (sign up at vaccinateri.org); the tests provided will be rapid antigen. Additional test sites are listed at the end of this post.

Meanwhile, EG schools continue to work around staffing issues caused by the increase in COVID-19 cases. EG schools went remote for Friday because of the snow storm and Supt. Alexis Meyer said there had been no decision yet regarding remote learning for COVID-related concerns. “Certainly staffing has been impacted by COVID,” she said Thursday. “We’re watching closely the staffing levels.”

Meyer said she and other administrators have been “assisting with coverage” this week – i.e. filling in when classrooms needed a teacher.

Starting Monday, Jan. 10, pre-K through 12 schools will follow the latest CDC guidance for pre-K through 12 schools, according to Gov. McKee. 

“My administration has been committed to keeping students in the classroom where they are safest and where they learn best, and we’re taking steps to make sure that continues,” he said Thursday. 

When students return to school Monday, Jan. 10, the following guidelines will be in effect:

  • Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19, regardless of their vaccination status, should stay home and isolate for at least 5 days. They may return to school on day 6, if they don’t have symptoms or their symptoms are improving, and they’ve been fever-free for 24 hours, or
    • Isolate at home until their symptoms are improving and they’ve been fever-free for 24 hours.
  • Case investigation and contact tracing efforts will be streamlined to quickly notify close contacts and respond accordingly.
    • RIDOH will focus on shortened case interviews and identifying household contacts.
    • Schools should focus on identifying and notifying close contacts who were exposed at school.  
  • Staff and students age 18 and older who are identified as close contacts will be exempt from quarantine and should wear a well-fitting mask around others for 10 days, if they don’t have symptoms and have:
    • Received a vaccine booster dose;
    • Completed the two-dose primary series of Pfizer within the last 5 months;
    • Completed the two-dose primary series of Moderna within the last 6 months;
    • or Completed the one-dose primary series of J&J vaccine in the last 2 months.
  • Students age 5-17 who are identified as close contacts will be exempt from quarantine and should wear a well-fitting mask around others for 10 days, if they have don’t have symptoms and have:
    • Completed the two-dose primary series of Pfizer or Moderna more than 14 days prior the exposure date.
    • If they develop symptoms, they should isolate at home and get tested.  
  • Students and staff without symptoms, who are identified as close contacts, and aren’t exempt from quarantine will be encouraged to follow the Monitor to Stay quarantine protocol, which allows students and staff to attend school in person and participate in school-related extracurricular activities during their quarantine period. In this case, they should:
    • Conduct symptom screening and attest that they don’t have symptoms for 5 days;
    • Follow quarantine guidance when outside school, as well as updated CDC guidance about masking;
    • and athletic programs should continue current testing programs for sports.  
  • Students and staff identified as close contacts will be exempt from quarantine if they don’t have symptoms and one of the following exemptions applies:
  • The person previously had COVID-19 no more than 90 days prior to the last date of close contact exposure; or
    • The person meets all of the Pre K-12 close contact exception criteria:
      • The close contact and infected person are both Pre K-12 students;
      • The exposure occurred inside a Pre K-12 classroom or structured outdoor Pre K-12 setting where mask use can be observed (i.e., holding class outdoors with supervision);
      • Both students wore face masks at all times;
      • and students were at least 3 feet apart from each other at all times; or
  • The person is a ​Pre-K-12 student or staff member and the exposure occurred at outdoor recess at a Pre K-12 school; or
  • The exposure occurred on a P​re K-12 school bus where windows were open, all persons on the bus wore face masks, and there was at least one other adult in addition to the driver present to monitor that masks were worn and windows were open.

“This new guidance for schools aligns with the latest recommendations from national health experts at the CDC,” said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott. “We know our kids learn best in school. It is critical that we minimize disruptions to school communities, while doing everything we can to limit transmission of COVID-19.”

“We’ve heard from families across the state that want their children in school, and we’re taking action,” said RIDE Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. “These new guidelines will ensure students benefit from the academic and social-emotional supports of in-person learning while protecting their health and safety. We’re looking forward to continuing to work with school leaders in each district to support them in providing the high-quality education their students deserve.”

Testing and Vaccination Sites:

Warwick CCRI Parking Lot
400 East Ave., Warwick, RI 02886

Monday to Sunday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Due to inclement weather on Friday, January 7, this site will be open from noon until 8 p.m.)
Appointments required – to sign up, visit portal.ri.gov.
Rapid antigen testing

R.I. Convention Center (for testing and vaccinations)

In addition to the testing site at the Rhode Island Convention Center Ticket Booth, COVID-19 vaccinations will also be available indoors in a separate location. Vaccinations will take place in the Ground Floor Lobby.
Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer for 12+, and Pfizer pediatric (for ages 5-11) will be available.
Appointments on January 7 will be limited, but will expand starting next week. Vaccinations will be available 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Expanded hours for vaccinations will begin on Tuesday, January 11. Vaccinations will be available Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Appointments are strongly encouraged. Sign up at vaccinateri.org

Cranston Test Site Moved 

The state-run test site at Chapel View Shopping Center has been relocated to 100 Sockanosset Cross Road. This move increases testing capacity from 400 to 600 tests per day, expands parking access, indoor waiting space, and provides a one-stop location for testing and vaccination. This site will continue to scale up to 1,000 appointments per day.

Updated location:
Sockanosset Test Site
100 Sockanosset Cross Road, Cranston
Monday to Friday: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on January 7 due to inclement weather)
Saturday and Sunday: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Appointments required – to sign up, visit portal.ri.gov.
Rapid antigen testing only

For more information about COVID-19, visit covid.ri.gov. To sign up for a testing appointment visit portal.ri.gov.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Linda Gaskill

    It is very disrespectful to teachers, administration and staff for the school committee, who employs them, to determine that it is unsafe to meet in person. They are meeting with a small number of responsible adults who can reliable socially distance, wear masks correctly, and understand the science of how covid is spread. None of these things are happening in my k-2 school. They require that their employees work in a much higher risk environment, in person, with young children who do NOT wear masks correctly, or at all, when they are eating snacks, eating lunch and drinking, and they dare to say it is unsafe for them to meet in person.

    Reply
    • Claudia Smith

      I agree.

      Reply

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