Colleen Burns Jermain, Superintendent of Newport Public Schools, notified Newport families and staff on Sunday evening that Thompson Middle School and Pell Elementary School will be moving to distance learning this week, due to positive COVID-19 cases within the school community.

Jermain sent the following letter;

“Dear Newport Families and Staff, 

Over the weekend, Pell had another student test positive for COVID in a Grade 3, and at  TMS, a Grade 6 student and a staff member also tested positive for COVID. All families and  staff at Pell Elementary School and TMS have been notified they will be required to stay at  home for fourteen days and move to Distance Learning.  

As of this writing, the Newport Public Schools has had a total of approximately 15 positive  COVID cases. We have been very fortunate with the low numbers. The effect of this though  in order to keep all our staff, students, and families safe and avoid community spread, has  resulted in closing classrooms or clusters while having staff and students stay at home for  

fourteen days as a result of being a close contact. This is causing staffing challenges,  particularly at TMS, and a lot of concern and worry for staff and families that fear they may  have to quarantine/ or stay at home for 14 days due to being a close contact during  Christmas and not be able to be with their families. The rising cases across the state are  also a concerning factor causing a lot of emotional and stressful situations for staff and  families on a day-to-day basis.  

Because of this, I have consulted with Dr. Behan, and decided TMS will move to Distance  Learning effective Tuesday, December 8 returning to In Person Learning on January 4th.  After consultation with Principal Westman, Pell Elementary School, which now has several  staff members and substitute teachers out due to close contact with COVID positive  students and staff, will move to Distance Learning beginning this week on Friday,  December 11th returning to In Person Learning on January 4th. The elementary teachers  will work with their students and families to prepare their students for this move.  

After discussions with RHS Principal Vance, he will be meeting with his team on Monday as  we continue to investigate some pending cases at this school. I will consult with him and  notify the community on Monday of what if any actions will be taken for RHS. 

I know this is not what any of us want at this time. I understand that Distance Learning can  be very challenging. Our staff, administrators and I know that the more we can keep  students in school in person learning is best for all of us. Unfortunately, due to the inability 

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to safely staff our schools, the rising number of cases across the state, as well as concerns  about families having to quarantine due to close contact during Christmas, I am asking  everyone to be flexible and understanding during this very difficult time. 

Thank you to everyone for all they are doing. I appreciate everyone’s efforts. Stay safe, 

Colleen Burns Jermain, Ed.D. 

Superintendent of Schools”

Ryan M. Belmore

Ryan M. Belmore is the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and serves on the Board of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and Lucy's Hearth. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.