The Dolphin Digest

November 23, 2020

Upcoming Events

Smithfield PTA Capital Campaign- See below

November 16th-30th- CMS Transportation Survey Due (see below)

November 23rd & 24th- Remote Instruction for ALL K-12 CMS Students (PreK in-person)

November 25th-27th- Thanksgiving Holiday- No School for students and teachers

December 9th- CMS Early Release Day

Due November 30th- CMS Transportation Survey

  • A survey to inform the district about students’ transportation needs for the second semester will be posted on the CMS website and school websites starting Monday, Nov. 16. Families will need their student ID number to complete the transportation survey.
  • The transportation choice will last through the end of the second semester.
  • CMS needs to know the transportation needs for all students whose families intend for them to attend school in-person during the second semester
  • If your child will remain in FRA during 2nd semester, no action is needed.
  • Specific note for current In-person Pre-K through 5th grade learners:
    • If your child has not ridden the bus as of November 20, 2020, we will remove your child’s name from the bus roster and they will not receive a bus stop assignment for the second semester.
    • If your child does need transportation for second semester, you MUST complete the survey indicating the need for transportation.
  • Here are the questions that will be on the survey:
  1. Please indicate your relationship to the student for whom you are completing this survey
    1. Parent
    2. Guardian
    3. Student
    4. An adult who is not the student’s parent or guardian
  2. For the remainder of the 2020-21 school year, beginning second semester, please indicate this student’s transportation needs. (Transportation is based on eligibility. If you are unsure if your student is eligible for transportation, please contact XXX)
    1. Student requires CMS yellow bus transportation in the morning only.
    2. Student requires CMS yellow bus transportation in the afternoon only.
    3. Student requires CMS yellow bus transportation in the morning and afternoon.
    4. Student does not require CMS yellow bus transportation.
  3. Is the student transferring from Full Remote Academy to In-Person for second semester?
    1. Yes, the student will transfer from the Full Remote Academy to In-Person for second semester and I have let my school know in writing.
    2. Yes, the student will transfer from Full Remote Academy to In-Person for second semester and I have not let my school know in writing.
    3. No, the student was assigned to In-Person Learning during first semester and will continue that assignment for second semester.

Requests to transfer between Plan B and Full Remote Academy

If you would like your child to transfer out of Plan B (in-person) and into Full Remote Academy, or vice versa, please complete the form by following the link below. We will be in touch within 48 hours of receiving the form in regards to the approval. Thank you!

November 23rd & 24th

All K-5 students will be participating in REMOTE INSTRUCTION. "A group" students will remain home on those two days for online learning.

"A group" students will return for in-person learning on Monday, November 30th. "B group" students will return for in-person learning on Thursday, December 3rd.

Smithfield Gratitude Padlet- Please Participate

In 2020, communities have faced challenge after challenge, adapted and overcome. The Smithfield Family is blessed to be in a position to support our community during this time, and we are forever grateful for that. This is a time of year when we reflect and give thanks.

Please help us create a positive sounding board, by adding one thing you and your family are most grateful for in 2020 to this Padlet. (Feel free to submit more than one entry if your child would like to participate too!)

Gratitude is the best medicine. It heals your body and your spirit and attracts more things to be grateful for.

2020 Smithfield PTA Capital Campaign

Our 2020 Capital Campaign is still underway. Please note that 100% of your donation goes to Smithield. Check out the video below to see how your donation helps our wonderful teachers. So far, we have raised a little over $2000. We are hoping to make that number go way up. Ways to donate include:

· Cash or Check: Payable to Smithfield PTA

· Credit or Debit Card Online at:

· Venmo: @SmithfieldElem-PTA (Please add Capital Campaign in the memo.)

· Double your donation via Corporate Matching: Contact your employer’s Human Resources Department for details. Some employers who match include: Ally Bank, Aon Hewitt, AT&T, AXA, Bank of America, Beacon Partners, Charlotte Palm Corps, Duke Energy, GE Foundation, Goodrich, Home Depot, Kraft, LPL Financial, Premier, and TIAA.

o Please include a copy of your employer’s matching form

Wonderful Opportunity for Thanksgiving Meal

Goble Goble Dolphin Families!

We have discovered some great news for those that may have some financial challenges this holiday season! Walmart has partnered with a mobile rewards platform called Ibotta. This partnership allows Walmart to provide a free Thanksgiving dinner to everyone that uses the app.

Linked here, you will find the information needed to get the free meal which includes:

Campbell's condensed cream of mushroom soup, 2-Liter bottle of Coke, Butterball Turkey, Turkey Gravy, French's Crispy Onions, instant mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and frozen green beans.

This does require participants to download the Ibotta app and pay upfront for the food; after the food is purchased you use the app and your receipt to get a credit back on your account.

We hope you have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Required State Testing Info for FRA Families

As of today, students in the Full Remote Academy are required to participate in all state assessments. State assessments with a designated window (EOG and ACCESS) must be brought into the building to be assessed in person during the designated window. If there is a circumstance where a student is unable to attend in-person instruction and therefore participated in a state assessment that has a designated window (EOG and ACCESS) due to COVID related circumstances the school testing coordinator may apply for a medical exception, as long as proper documentation can be obtained.

Students that are assigned to Full Remote Academy until May 31st are also required to report to the school for state assessments to be administered in-person during an assigned window of time by a state trained and certified member of the school staff. Please prepare to be available during the testing windows listed below. More information will come about specific testing dates in the spring.

ACCESS Testing Window: 1/25/21 to 3/5/21 (English Learners K-5 Testing)
EOG Testing Window: 5/12/21 to 5/28/21 (End-of-Grade Testing for grades 3,4, and 5)

CMS Covid Reporting Information from Board Chair, Elyse Dashew

Information is power, but information can also be confusing and frightening, especially when you’re dealing with something as new and complex as COVID. Once CMS students began the phased-in return to the classroom, the district started reporting COVID cases on the CMS dashboard. Ever since then, my school board colleagues and I have gotten a lot of questions from constituents as to how cases are reported, who is informed of cases, how quarantining happens, and more. I decided to do a deep dive as a public health layperson (which is, of course, exactly what I am!), asking the experts a whole bunch of questions and follow-up questions. I’m sharing what I learned here. I hope you find it helpful.


We currently report cases school-by-school on the district COVID dashboard. However, at first we only reported cases districtwide, not school-by-school.

Here is why: The first students to return to the classroom were kids with certain disabilities that could not be served remotely, followed by pre-K students. With so few students at each school, it would have been relatively easy to track down who specifically had COVID if we reported cases school-by-school. FERPA (the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act) does not permit schools to share personally identifiable information about students. However, once we had all the K-5 students back to school, we were able to report school-by-school without revealing students’ personal info.


On Friday late afternoon, we get the latest case count and percent positivity info from the Mecklenburg County Health Department. We also gather all the internal metrics from our schools. This info is carefully checked, including sometimes over the weekend. The dashboard is then updated on Monday, usually at 1pm. Just before the update goes live, at 12:30 on Mondays, Chief School Performance Officer Kathy Elling goes on Zoom, streaming to the CMS Facebook and YouTube pages, to walk through the latest numbers.


STAFF: We have 19,106 employees in CMS. When any of these employees tests positive for COVID, their cases should be included in the case count during the week they test positive. Whether it’s a teacher in a classroom, a teacher working remotely, a bus driver, an employee in the Benefits department or Legal or Building Services or anywhere in CMS…if they test positive, the district is potentially impacted, and so it is important to report this to the public.

STUDENTS: We report for students who have returned to in-person learning, and/or students who are practicing sports in person. If a student is doing remote learning because their grade span has not yet returned to in-person, or because they are enrolled in the Full Remote Academy, then we do not report these cases.

TIMING: Once we started listing school-by-school reports on the dashboard, we got a lot of questions along the lines of, “I know someone at XYZ School who has COVID but the dashboard doesn’t show any cases at that school. What gives?”

If you look at the dashboard, it will show a date span, i.e. “COVID-19 Report for the week of November 14-20, 2020.” We count confirmed cases that were newly reported during the week of that grade span. In this example, if someone tested positive on November 13, their case would have been listed on the previous week’s report. If someone tested positive on November 21, their case would be listed on the following week’s report. If someone stayed home from school or work due to symptoms, but did not actually test positive, then they would not be on the list.


When a lab processes a positive test, they send that info to the NC DHHS, who sends it to the Mecklenburg County Health Department, who contacts CMS. We also ask families to inform us directly if a student tests positive for COVID. And we ask employees to inform us directly if they test positive. If the school finds out about a case directly from the family or employee before getting the official notice from the County, we’ll inform the County Health Department. There is a LOT of communicating back and forth between CMS and the County Health Department these days in order to share info as expeditiously as possible.

Sometimes a family member will inform a teacher that a student has tested positive. In that case, the teacher should inform the principal. The principal should then inform the team that is tracking this info at the district level.


If you or your child tests positive for COVID, you can expect to hear A LOT from the County Health Department. A “disease investigator” will make contact to interview you and determine whether you had close contact, and if so, gather information to contact those people. They will then pass this info along to the “contact tracers” who will notify close contacts to quarantine. Schools often collaborate with the contact tracers to determine and notify close contacts. Another thing that informs the process is having “assigned seating charts” on buses and in classrooms.


If someone tests positive, and you have been closer than six feet to them for more than 15 minutes over a total of 24 hours, starting two days before their symptoms appeared, then you should quarantine.



If your child is determined to be a close contact with a student or employee who tested positive, you should get a phone call from your school to make sure you do not come to school the next day. You will also get a notification from the Health Department (it might come to you via the school). You’ll get info on how to quarantine, how long to quarantine, etc.

STAFF CLOSE CONTACTS: If an employee is determined to be a close contact with a student or employee who tested positive, you should get a phone call from your manager to make sure you do not come to work the next day. You will get a notification from the Health Department. You’ll get info on how to quarantine, how long to quarantine, etc.

STUDENTS WHO ARE NOT A CLOSE CONTACT: If your student is attending in-person instruction, and a case was identified at your school, but you were not exposed, you will be notified that there was a case at your school. Schools have many ways to communicate with their families. This might be a letter sent home in your child’s backpack, an email, a Connect5 phone call, a Remind text message, a ParentSquare message, any combination of the above. There are even more channels of communication that I have not listed here. Schools have many ways of communicating with their families these days. It is very important for families to make sure that schools have their correct and current contact information.

If you are a student in Full Remote Academy, and a case was identified at your school, you will not receive a letter notifying you. Similarly, if your grade level is currently all remote, you will not receive a letter informing you. However you, along with any other member of the public, can see schools with new cases listed on the CMS dashboard.

STAFF WHO ARE NOT A CLOSE CONTACT: If you are a school-based staff member, and a case was identified at your school, but you were not exposed, you should receive notification from your school. If you are a bus driver and a student with COVID rode your bus, you should receive notification from your manager.

If you are a school-based staff member but you are teaching from home (ie, not at the school building), you will not receive a letter notifying you. However, you, along with any other member of the public can see schools with new cases listed on the CMS dashboard.


A cluster is defined as five or more potentially linked cases within 14 days. As of the day I am writing this (Nov 22, 2020) we have not had any clusters in our schools.

There have, however, been schools with multiple cases. You can see this on the dashboard. The disease investigators do a lot of work to track down where a case was caught and to whom it was spread. Thus far, they have not determined any cases to have been spread at a CMS school. This means, when there are multiple cases at a school, the evidence indicates they were caught in different, unrelated places.


If an employee or student has to quarantine due to close contact with a positive case, they should stay home for 14 days from exposure. The County Health Department will help calculate the date for when they can go back to school or work. If they are quarantining due to a close contact at school, the school will also track the date for when they are expected back.


If you have to isolate due to testing positive, the Health Department should tell you when you can go back to school or work. Generally, you should isolate at least 10 days from the date of the positive test. If symptoms continue after that, you should stay home until symptoms stop and you have no fever.


If a student is out for COVID and/or quarantining, but is well enough to participate in class remotely, they will be coded as “remote learning”. If too sick to participate in remote learning, those days will be counted as a regular absence due to illness.

If an employee is out for COVID, and/or out for quarantining, and able to work remotely, then they do not need to take leave. If they cannot work remotely (either because of being too sick, or because the type of job they do cannot be done remotely), they can contact the Benefits team and apply for the appropriate kind of leave.


I hope this info is helpful. I have tried to be as clear and thorough as possible. It’s a lot to take in! Please let me know if you have more questions, and I will do my best to track down the answers for you. As we become more familiar with these processes, all of this will be less overwhelming.

Also, please be careful out there. Wear your mask over your nose and mouth. Wash your hands a lot, and try not to touch your face. Figure out how far six feet is, and try to stay that far away from other people if possible. Avoid crowds. If you don’t feel well, don’t take any chances – stay home! Get tested if you have symptoms or think you’ve been exposed.

Many people who catch COVID have mild symptoms, but as you probably know, some people get very sick. A promising vaccine is on the horizon, but meanwhile cases are climbing. We’ve been battling this public health crisis for far too long already. Let’s all do our part to end the pandemic. We have the power to do it if we work together.

Big picture

Previous Dolphin Digests

Please see the previous week's Dolphin Digest newsletters below:

November 16th

November 9th

November 2nd

October 26th

Stay Connected!

  • Each child will have an Agenda that will go between home and school every day.

  • Weekly ConnectEd email newsletters

  • Facebook (Smithfield):

  • Facebook (Smithfield PTA):