Superintendent's Newsletter

January 18, 2021


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Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy

Today, we remember the life of one of our greatest Civil Rights leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As is the case for many of our national holidays, this day is not a vacation day off from school and work, but rather a day to reflect on Dr. King’s lasting legacy and our commitment in the Watertown Public Schools to anti-racism, anti-oppression, diversity, equity, and belonging.

This morning, organizations in Watertown joined together for the 2021 Unity Breakfast, during which several of our students shared their experiences with racism in the community. The keynote speaker, the honorary host, and the Unity Award recipient all called upon our community to recognize, address, and eradicate racism in our society and our institutions. The recording of the event can be found at the following link, and I encourage you to view and/or review it for its powerful messages.

Each year, we take time on this day to honor the life and again mourn the tragic assassination of Dr. King. Given the events of this past year, including the murder of George Floyd and the January 6th armed riots and the forceful siege of our nation’s Capitol, Dr. King’s legacy is especially relevant. As we consider all of the events that we have faced, and in anticipation of any future events including Wednesday’s Presidential inauguration, we reaffirm our commitment to supporting and nurturing all of our students, families, and staff, especially our Black, Brown and Indigenous Watertown Public Schools community members.

We, in the Watertown Public Schools, care deeply about the social and emotional wellbeing of our students, families, and faculty, and are taking extra care at this particular juncture in our nation’s history. We will offer our students opportunities to reflect and process current and future events in a safe and supportive environment, including discussions centered on democracy, dignity, equity, anti-racism, civil discourse, and having a voice.

Considering all that has transpired and may transpire in the coming days, I cannot help but be buoyed by the following quote from Dr. King, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

With peace and hope,

Dede Galdston

Family Survey

As we head towards the mid-point of this school year, we are looking forward to gathering your feedback about your experiences during pandemic schooling and invite you to take a few minutes to complete the mid-year WPS family survey. Please fill out one survey for each of your children, as your experiences may be different for each of your children, especially if they are in different schools. This feedback is invaluable to inform decisions moving forward into the second half of the school year and beyond. Please complete this survey by Monday, January 25 and we will share the collective results with all of you. Students in grades 3-12 as well as faculty and staff are also providing feedback via surveys.

Your time and input are greatly appreciated!

COVID-19 Update

As we continue to navigate schooling during a pandemic, we are carefully monitoring the prevalence of the virus in our schools. Our post-winter break pooled testing found six positive students as part of pool testing, with no positive pools this past week. Please note that this does not mean that there aren’t additional COVID cases in our schools, as we have switched to remote learning for some students at the Hosmer, Preschool, and WMS, driven by results of outside testing.

The Watertown community dipped into the “red” two weeks ago as the percent positive testing rate surpassed 5%, but this past week, it dipped under 5%, moving us back into the yellow. We know that COVID is on the rise, and that we need to carefully monitor the prevalence of the virus in both our schools and the larger community. We meet with the Watertown Health Department Director regularly and any decisions regarding continuing with hybrid learning or moving to remote learning will be done thoughtfully and deliberately with the Health Department, especially if Watertown were to be “in the red” for three or more consecutive weeks.

A key strategy for safely keeping our schools open is the free COVID-19 testing offered to all students and staff who are coming to school in-person. We are approaching 80% of families signing up for the testing. If you haven’t already done so, please consider being part of this essential effort to remain in our hybrid model. All information including the link to sign up can be found here. Please remember that our testing is only for individuals who do NOT HAVE ANY SYMPTOMS and who are not suspected of being positive.

It is critical that we all continue to be vigilant and that families monitor children for symptoms of the virus. Please do not send your children to school or extracurricular activities if they have any COVID symptoms or have been in close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual. Also, if anyone in your family is being tested for COVID due to exhibiting COVID symptoms, please keep your child(ren) home as you await results. As always, if your child has contracted COVID-19, or is quarantining due to being a close contact, please reach out to your school nurse as soon as possible.

We care about your safety and our students’ learning. If you elect to travel to areas affected by the Massachusetts Travel Ban, Watertown Public School guidelines require a PCR test prior to your child’s return to school, or they must be quarantined for 14 days. Currently, only the state of Hawaii is on the lower-risk list.

Please also note that the Watertown Public Schools continues to require a full 14-day quarantine period for anyone identified as a close contact with a person who tests positive for COVID 19. Additional quarantine requirements may be necessary if members of your household are COVID-positive. The quarantine duration will be determined by the Health Department in consultation with the school nurses.

Upcoming Events

Watertown School Committee Meeting

Monday, Jan. 25th, 7pm

This is an online event.

Zoom link for the Webinar:

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

Or iPhone one-tap :

US: +13126266799,,98442979028# or +16465588656,,98442979028#

Or Telephone:

Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):

US: +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 558 8656 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 669 900 9128 or +1 253 215 8782

Webinar ID: 984 4297 9028

Superintendent's Coffee

Wednesday, Jan. 27th, 9-11am

This is an online event.

The Superintendent will be hosting two coffees on Wednesday, January 27 at 9:00 am and again at 7:00 pm. The same Zoom Link will be used for both coffees.

Zoom link:

Meeting ID: 992 1335 4546

One tap mobile

+13017158592,,99213354546# US (Washington D.C)

Dial by your location

+1 646 558 8656 US (New York)