During the Newport City Council Meeting on Wednesday night, Colleen Burns Jermain, Superintendent of Newport Public Schools, confirmed a student at Pell Elementary School and a staff member at Thompson Middle School have been sent home and identified as a “probable case”.


UPDATE – Pell Elementary School Administration notified parents today by email that the student who was identified as a probable case has tested negative.


The news came while the Superintendent was providing a back-to-school update for the City Manager, City Council, and public.

According to the Superintendent, on Tuesday a student at Pell Elementary School was sent home and identified as a probable case.

“That does not mean that the child is a confirmed case, Jermain said. “It is following the guidelines set by RIDOH (Rhode Island Department of Health)”.

Jermain said that the schools took the appropriate protocols – alerting RIDOH, sending communications out to parents of any students that were in the same class as the student, and alerted the public school community/school district.

Superintendent Jermain said that on Wednesday afternoon that she was informed that a staff member at Thompson Middle School had been sent home after being identified as a probable case.

“I’d like to say (the cases are) possible, but RIDOH calls them probable. It’s a probable case. Neither has been confirmed positive”, Jermain said.

The Rhode Island Deparment of Health only identifies cases as either probable or confirmed.

The staff member will report to the COVID-19 testing site and the school district will be notified accordingly and then the school district will take any necessary steps based on what the results are, Jermain said.

The Centers for Disease Control defines a probable case as;

● Any person with ONE of the following symptoms: cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath,
or loss of sense of taste / smell; or
● Any person with TWO OR MORE of the following symptoms: fever, chills, muscle aches, headache,
sore throat, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, or congestion / runny nose.

Any individual who is a probable case must be sent home from school, tested for COVID-19, and isolated. If the test is negative, the person must remain at home until they have no fever for at least 24 hours and they are no longer experiencing symptoms. If the test is positive, the school district and RIDOH will take immediate steps to ensure that the case is contained, including 14 days of quarantine for the individual who tested positive and for anyone who was in close contact with the individual. RIDOH has teams in place to coordinate testing, contact tracing, and notification of those affected.

At this time, based on the information available about this case, RIDOH officials have advised that no changes are required to in-person learning at the school, according to a letter sent to parents from Jermain on Wednesday.

Approximately five-hundred students began in-person learning in the Newport Public School system on Tuesday. The school system is using a phase-in approach to reopening schools over the next few weeks.

During her weekly COVID-19 press briefing on Wednesday, Governor Raimondo announced that twelve students and seven adults have tested positive for COVID-19 since schools reopened earlier this week.

The nineteen positive cases have been tied to eighteen different schools across the state, according to the Governor on Wednesday. Only nine of the nineteen individuals who tested positive were actually in school this week.

Superintendent Jermain’s full remarks from the City Council meeting begin at approximately 1:13 in the video below;

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Ryan Belmore has been the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp since 2012. He also currently works for Mountain News, where he serves as Senior Editor - North America for OnTheSnow. He previously worked for the New England Patriots and American Cancer Society. He currently serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).