May 12, 2022
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COVID Risk Level High-Masks Strongly Recommended
Good afternoon, WPS Community:
At this time, the CDC has designated Middlesex County as being at High Risk for COVID, based on the number of cases and hospitalizations. As such, we strongly recommend that all students and staff resume mask-wearing until such time that the designation returns to medium or low.
When masks became optional, metrics for returning to mask-wearing were developed and approved by the School Committee. At this time, school-wide mask-wearing is required at the Watertown Middle School, the Lowell and Hosmer Elementary Schools, and at our Early Steps Preschool. Masks will return to being optional but highly recommended at these schools once the number of active COVID cases falls below the threshold of 2% of the school population. Additionally, there are particular classrooms at the Cunniff that are also required to wear masks.
As of today, we are aware of at least 58 active cases of COVID in the district. While I am not mandating district-wide mask-wearing at this time, I will be carefully monitoring the metrics in the coming days/weeks to determine if we may need to reinstitute mask-wearing as a mitigation strategy. The other factors that we consider in terms of masking are the five metrics that we monitor weekly. These can be found on our website under the COVID-19 top tab.
VERY IMPORTANT: Please note that our COVID response protocols remain in place.
Please keep your child(ren) home if they have the symptoms of COVID. Utilize your at-home COVID tests or visit our symptomatic testing site at the Phillips Building, open from 7:00-10:30 a.m.*, to determine if your child has COVID. It is even more important to have your child tested and keep them home if they are not feeling well as their classmates may not be wearing masks. *Please call Justine Boyd at 617 330 2278 if you come for testing between 8:00-8:30 a.m. (Lowell Elementary School arrival time) so a tester may meet you at your car.
If your child has COVID, they must stay home for five full days, and may only return after day 5 if they are symptom-free, and they must wear a mask at school through day 10.
Please inform the school if your child tests positive for COVID.
Your child should have a spare mask with them during the day in case it becomes necessary to wear a mask. Examples when it may be necessary include going to the Nurse’s Office or becoming symptomatic during the school day.
Masks are strongly recommended for preschool students or any student who is not vaccinated.
As we have learned over the past 2 years, the COVID pandemic requires flexibility. Even as we optimistically head into the endemic stage of COVID, we anticipate that there will be times that require the addition of mitigation strategies, such as mask-wearing, to prevent transmission with as little disruption to the educational program as possible.
I appreciate your understanding,
Superintendent of Schools
Seeking Parent/Caregiver Volunteers to Serve on the Equity Plan Steering Committee
Watertown Public Schools holds equity as one of its core values: Equity, Excellence, and Community. As such, we have committed to the pursuit of equity in our schools and our system, as articulated in our DIstrict Improvement Strategy: Establish systems and structures that ensure all WPS students receive what they need to develop and achieve their full academic, social, and emotional potential.
Recently, we shared the full Equity Audit with the larger WPS community, including the findings and recommendations. One of the priorities identified in the audit is to develop a multi-year plan to address issues of equity in WPS, guided by the recommendations from the audit.
In order to put the recommendations of the Equity Audit into action, we are assembling a team of educators, administrators, parents/caregivers, community members, and students to determine the next steps for WPS to promote, embrace, and live our core value of equity in a more systemic and focused manner. This work is vital to the success of all members of our Watertown school community.
We are looking for two parents/guardians and one community member to serve on this important committee. Interpreters are available for any parent or guardian who may need this service. The Committee will begin meeting this month on May 23 and will continue its work over the summer and into the fall. Additional details:
- Introductory Planning Meeting Monday, May 23rd, 3:15 - 4:45 p.m.
- School Year 2022-2023 Tentatively on the 4th Monday of each month
- Summer 2022 2 meetings, July and August
Save the Date: Forum on Proposed Changes to Elementary School Attendance Zones
Wednesday, May 25th, 7pm
This is an online event.
Please note that any proposed changes will not impact any current placements. Changes would take effect in September 2023 and only for incoming Kindergarteners without older siblings.
Zoom Link for the Forum