Superintendent's COVID-19 Update
October 26, 2020
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WPS COVID-19 Update
Dear Members of the WPS Community:
We are very excited to transition to our hybrid model of learning for students in grades K-5 tomorrow (Cohort A) and Wednesday (Cohort B), with WMS and WHS starting later in November. Our team worked hard to ensure a safe return to in-person education and we look forward to welcoming many of our students to our buildings for the first time since March. Each of our schools shared specific information on the logistics for returning and I encourage you to review these communications and/or visit your school’s website for more information if you have questions.
Adhering to strict safety protocols as a community has allowed us to keep our number of new cases and positivity rates low in Watertown over the past several weeks. I am especially appreciative of our staff participation in our on-campus COVID-19 testing program. At this point, we are entering our fifth week of testing with no positive cases, which is good news.
Separately, this morning we were notified of a positive COVID-19 case at the Hosmer Elementary School and we have conducted close contact tracing and following the specific protocols we have in place to address such a scenario. This will not affect our reopening plans for tomorrow.
Our first responsibility is to keep our students and staff safe, and as such, anyone who could have been a close contact with the positive individual has been contacted. A close contact is defined as only those who have been within 6 feet of distance of the individual for at least fifteen cumulative minutes in one day in school spaces, on the bus, in an elementary classroom, or at an extracurricular activity.
Additionally, as part of our safety protocols, we are cleaning and disinfecting the Hosmer School with a focus on those areas frequented by the community member who tested positive. We will continue to be vigilant in adhering to all of the protocols that have been put in place in an effort to safely continue in-person learning. We are also following all Department of Public Health protocols, including collaborating with our local Board of Public Health to complete contact tracing.
We planned for this scenario during our reopening process and have a comprehensive plan in place to sanitize the school, inform families whose children were at risk of exposure or in close contact, and support the affected individual as they navigate this experience. As we move forward, it is critical that we not become complacent in our adherence to the simple steps we can all continue to take as a community to prevent transmission in our schools. Wearing masks, hand washing/sanitizing, and social distancing remain the most important practices we must continue to follow as we transition to hybrid learning for students.
Our partnership with parents is a critical component of the launch of in-person learning in WPS. It is important for our parents and guardians to provide the first line of defense each day by assessing your children’s health before sending them to school. As we transition to hybrid, please monitor your child for COVID symptoms and keep your child home if they show any symptoms or are not feeling well. Our Nursing Department has put together a daily health assessment that we ask you to reference each morning. If your child has any of the symptoms listed, please do not send them to school.
For elementary students, as we move to hybrid we understand that there may be extenuating circumstances that prevent your children from attending in person (ex., under quarantine, showing symptoms, extended sickness). If they are not able to attend school in-person for these reasons, please contact your child’s principal and they may be able to continue their learning and be marked present by: following along Google Classroom/SeeSaw; attending morning meeting and closing circle time; attending the remote session on Mondays and on the two extension days.
Finally, despite all of our concerted efforts, it is likely that we will continue to deal with some level of positive cases after we reopen. The COVID-19 Handbook Addendum provides an overview of the steps and timeline that will be followed in response to symptomatic individuals or those in close contact with someone who is symptomatic.
We are committed to continuous communication with and support of our families. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact Kathleen Desmarais, our Director of Students Services, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (617) 926-7760.
I will be holding a Reopening Forum tomorrow evening, Tuesday, October 27, from 6:00-7:00 pm via Zoom for anyone who is interested. Thank you for your continued support in partnership to ensure a safe hybrid start.
Dr. Deanne Galdston
Superintendent of Schools