Superintendent's Update

March 3, 2021


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Update on the Bridge to Return, Phase 4

Good afternoon WPS Parents and Guardians:

I hope today finds you well. I awoke this morning with an incredible sense of hope and optimism in response to President Biden’s announcement that all educators need to have at least the first dose of a vaccine by the end of March. And then we received the news that he put his words into action by opening up vaccinations for teachers and staff through CVS. Although there is limited vaccine availability at this time, it is a monumental step in the right direction.

Vaccine & Student Learning Time Updates

Today, the Governor held a press conference regarding vaccinations for K-12 staff. He announced that beginning next Thursday, March 11th, K-12 and early childhood educators, child care workers, and K-12 school staff will become eligible to schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments. Superintendents, legislators, and the MTA are advocating for a better approach for vaccinating teachers at the local level, but at least we are making strides to continue to keep our staff safe.

In addition, we certainly believe that education is best done in person and we completely share in this goal as part of Watertown’s Bridge to Return. With Commissioner Riley’s proposed change to the current Student Learning Time requirement, that only in-person instruction counts towards time on learning, we are considering all options for a return to more in-person instruction in early April. The assumption is that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will support the Commissioner’s recommendation at its meeting this Friday, March 5th.

In WPS, we continue to work collaboratively and expeditiously with our teachers, administration, our Watertown Educators Association (WEA) working group, and our School Committee on this matter to make the best decisions for our timeline, which will be shared broadly when complete. I am confident that with all of the mitigation strategies that we have in place we are in a good position to move into our next phase on the Bridge to Return. Trust me when I tell you that if something could have been done to improve safety, we have done it at WPS. Safety continues to be my primary consideration. Follow up details include:

  • I will keep you apprised of any information about vaccinations for staff and the impact of the Commissioner’s Student Learning Time Recommendation on our future plans in WPS as soon as it becomes available through my weekly updates.

  • We will send a survey to families about their preferences through the end of the year (Ex. virtual or in-person five days/week, spacing) within the next few days.

  • The School Committee will convene prior to March 22

And finally, to keep you informed, here is the presentation that I provided to the School Committee on Monday evening with an update on our Bridge to Return, and a joint letter from all Middlesex League Superintendents regarding school reopening and the need to vaccinate staff.

With kindest regards,

Dede Galdston, Ed.D.

Watertown Superintendent of Schools