WPS Leadership Update
December 3, 2021
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A Message from the Superintendent
To our WPS Families and Community,
I trust that you all had a fabulous feast and break from the action over this past weekend and I wish you the best for the one coming up. We are heading into what I consider to be the fastest three weeks of the year and a much-deserved break.
While it may appear that we are back to “normal”, there is nothing normal about this year. Returning to school after 18 months of disruption has altered our typical routines of school as we continue to support our students' particular needs. Our highly skilled educators, support staff, and administrators work hard every day to meet the challenges that we face while basking in the joy that being around children brings.
I am deeply saddened by the loss of young life due to gun violence in Michigan. Whenever tragedies such as a school shooting occur, as parents, we all hold our children a little tighter, and as educators, we review what we do to keep our students and each other safe every day. If you have any concerns about school safety or your child has shared anything with you of concern, we encourage you or your children to report these concerns to your school's administration. Please also note that we have an anonymous reporting form that can be used to alert the schools to any type of threats, harassment, or bullying. The form can be found using this link.
In this update, you will find important information about a survey for parents/caregivers to fill out about your experiences with the schools. Students in grades 4-12 will also fill the survey out, along with all teachers and instructional assistants across the district. Also, there is information about our school closure protocols in the event we need to cancel school - "snow days." And you will find information about upcoming events as well, including the second dose COVID-19 vaccine clinic.
With great appreciation,
Dede Galdston, Superintendent of Schools
Scenes from Our Schools
Parent and Caregiver Climate and Culture Survey
Over the past several months, the District has engaged in a series of reviews aimed at assessing where we are at as a learning community. These reviews include our Equity Audit and the DMGroup’s budget review.
And now we are asking parents and caregivers to complete a culture and climate survey. The purpose of this focused dive into our current reality is to provide the District with accurate information about what we have accomplished and where we need to go next as we begin the process of our next round of strategy development. Our current improvement strategy will end this year, and we are ready to begin the next round of planning for the coming years. We will be administering this annual school climate and culture survey to all teachers and instructional assistants, students in grades 4-12, and parents. Your participation in this survey is greatly appreciated, especially during these challenging times. Here you will find the link to the survey. The survey window is open now until December 23. If you are an Early Steps parent, please check Hosmer as your school.
What are the 5Essentials and 5Essentials Survey? 5Essentials is an evidence-based system designed to drive improvement in schools nationwide—it reliably measures changes in a school organization through the 5Essentials Survey and provides individualized, actionable Reports for each school. The 5Essentials system is based on more than 20 years of research by the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research on five components found to be critical for school success:
Effective Leaders: The principal works with teachers to implement a clear and strategic vision for school success.
Collaborative Teachers: Teachers collaborate to promote professional growth.
Involved Families: The entire school staff builds strong relationships with families and communities to support learning.
Supportive Environment: The school is safe and orderly. Teachers have high expectationsfor students and support students to realize their goals. Classmates also support one another.
Ambitious Instruction: Classes are academically demanding and engage students by emphasizing the application of knowledge.
The survey requires no more than 10 minutes for parents to complete. The parent/caregiver survey is shorter in length and is a supplement to the 5Es survey that educators and students take. Please fill out one survey for each of your children. The survey is available in English and Spanish. If you need the survey translated, please reach out to the ESL department for translations.
Thank you in advance for taking the time to fill out this very important and informative survey.
COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic and Updates
Vaccination Clinic: Watertown hosts the second dose vaccination clinic on Wednesday, December 8 from 2:00 -7:00 at Watertown Middle School. Parents should have received an email after the first clinic with a link to register for the second dose. Please look in your emails for the link. If you arrive before 3:30, please park on the street. After 3:30 there should be parking in the school lot.
For children ages 5-11 who have yet to be vaccinated, we can accommodate 50 walk-in vaccinations. Please plan on arriving after 3:30 if you intend to get your child's first dose on December 8.
We are excited to share that we will have special guests at the clinic, including our talented face/hand painters.
Any child who is fully vaccinated (2 weeks after the second dose) does not have to quarantine even if they are a close contact. That includes participating in Test and Stay.
Test and Stay and Symptomatic Testing: Watertown has successfully implemented its Test & Stay program at the Lowell West School in Waltham every day since October. It has been very successful. It is essential for students who are part of Test and Stay go to Lowell West for testing. If this is not possible for your family, please reach out to your principal. If you have not already done so, please fill out the online consent form for Test and Stay,
We are also offering symptomatic testing at Lowell West from 8:15-10:00. If you are interested in having your child tested, please fill out the following form prior to arrival.
COVID-19 Metrics: The metrics for the week of November 22 can be found here. This week we had nine positive pools, which is more than likely attributable to the holidays. We are not seeing transmission within our schools. That being said, please encourage mask-wearing and social distancing when your children are indoors after the school day.
School Closure Information - Inclement Weather
We live in New England, and whether we love them or hate them, snow days may be just around the corner. As such, please review the information contained in this section regarding school closure protocols.
State law requires 180 days of instruction and also requires that any school closures (“snow days”) be made up before June 30. In the case of inclement weather or school closure for emergency reasons, information about school closures will be:
-Posted on the District’s website (www.watertown.k12.ma.us), the WPS Facebook page (@watertownpublicschools) and the WPS Twitter feed (@watertownschool)
-Emailed to parents and staff from the Superintendent’s office via the District’s messaging service
-Broadcast to the following stations
- WCVB Television (Channel 5)
- WHDH Television (Channel 7)
- NBC Boston (Channel 10 and NECN)
- WFXT Television (Channel 25)
- WBZ Television (Channel 4)
- WBZ Radio (AM 1030)
Some television stations provide a free text alert service notifying of closures and delays (e.g., www.fox25boston.com/weather/closing-login).
We will post on the above locations as soon as the decision is made. On most occurrences, the decision to open, delay, or close school is made between 5:30 and 6:00 AM. It is only on rare occasions that conditions are such that a clear decision can be made the night before. In those cases, we endeavor to make the decision to have it broadcast on the 11:00 PM news. Additionally, the District will call households once a decision has been made about the school cancellation or delay.
A delayed opening may be announced to allow the District and/or Department of Public Works to adequately prepare streets, walkways, and parking lots for safe travel. Delayed openings will be for one (1) hour to two (2) hours after the schools’ regular scheduled start times. Before-school programs are cancelled on days with delayed openings. Lunch will be served at the regular time and school will close at the regular time.
Preschool classes are canceled on days of school closure. On days with delayed school openings, AM preschool will be canceled and PM preschool will begin at the usual time.
Extended Day programs are canceled on days of school closure. On days with delayed openings, before-school Extended Day programs are canceled and after-school Extended Day programs begin as usual.
On occasion, the District may call for an early release or cancel PM and evening activities including after-school Extended Day programs. Please check the aforementioned television and radio stations for notifications of PM closures.
Please DO NOT CALL the School Department, Police Department, or Fire Department for school cancellation information as these lines must remain open for emergency situations.
Equity in WPS Speaker Series Part 2: Educational Equity and Cultural Profiency
Join us on Monday, December 8, 2021 for a virtual conversation at 6:30 pm via Zoom with WPS families and caregivers, facilitated by Dr. Kalise Wornum. In this session, participants will gain a clear understanding of the meaning of educational equity and cultural proficiency. This is a repeat of the presentation that took place on November 1.
Participants will have an opportunity to raise questions and discuss challenges in real-time. This is the second session of a four-part series with Dr. Wornum designed to provide families with information about our equity work in the Watertown Public Schools and to help parents and caregivers navigate difficult conversations around race and bias. Please join whether you are able to participate actively or just want to listen in.
Continuing on with the Series, Session 3 -Defining Implicit Bias- will be held on January 13 at 6:30 via Zoom and Session 4 - How to Have Difficult Conversations- will be held on March 10 at 6:30 via Zoom. Mark your calendars for these upcoming events.
Dr. Kalise Wornum is an Educational Consultant at KW Diversity Inc. Earlier in her career, she served as the METCO Director in the Wellesley Public Schools. As part of the equity work in WPS, Dr. Wornum has collaborated with the WPS Leadership Team in providing resources and training to become Culturally Proficient Leaders, and she delivered this year's keynote speech to all WPS staff on Opening Day, September 1. This work moves WPS towards achieving its mission of preparing all students for life by engaging them in a challenging and meaningful education within an inclusive, diverse community.
Zoom link for Wednesday's Session with Dr. Wornum:
Wednesday, Dec 8, 2021, 06:30 PM
Community Conversation with the Superintendent