WMS Community Bulletin 3-14-20


Watertown Middle School 2019-2020

Hello Watertown Middle School Community,

I hope this bulletin finds you and your family well. I know across the Commonwealth and beyond we are all adjusting to school being closed and the new norm of social distancing. My hope is that we will continue to maintain routines with our children and use these days together in fun activities such as family walks/time outside, board games, puzzles, reading, etc. One of my plans is to have my son paint our kitchen after he cleans his room. :) He is also learning how to make his own bassoon reeds. I have included a widely shared daily routine plan below. It may seem at first to apply to mainly younger children, but teenagers (and adults!) need guidelines and routines as well.

Before I address a few of the concerns you might have, I want to start by celebrating some of the accomplishments of the past few weeks so that they do not get lost. Congratulations to Ms. Ellington and the cast and crew of Beauty and the Beast! I heard the run-through of the show on Thursday was tremendous and a testament to all of the hours and hard work you have put into the production - BRAVO! I am hopeful we will still get to see it. Congratulations to the performance music groups who were due to participate in Bandarama as well as the upcoming MICCA competitions. I know you have all worked so hard practicing and rehearsing! I was fortunate enough to hear the 7/8 band run through their pieces, and they sounded tremendous! I know many of you spring athletes are ready to hit the tracks and fields, and I am hopeful you will before long. In the meantime, keep exercising. I would also like to recognize the important academic work and projects students have been engaged in as well which is now on hold, but will hopefully be resumed on March 30th! And finally, the postponed/canceled annual Pennies for Patients fundraising events. Students and teachers have been working diligently to put the events together, and it is our hope we can have as many of them as possible in the later spring. The coin drive got us off to an excellent start! These are certainly unprecedented and stressful days, but I wanted to also remember and recognize the amazing things that have been taking place at WMS! And if I inadvertently forgot something, please let me know and I will include it in my next message!

Please take care and remain healthy and well. Please do not hesitate to contact me directly if you need anything. I'll be working at WMS daily, and if you need to see me or pick something up, please call ahead as I will be attending daily planning meetings with district leaders and curriculum coordinators.

All my best,


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Thank you to the Custodial Staff!

Thank you to Tony, Allal, Chuck, Walter, and Joe who have been working tirelessly to keep the building clean and sanitized for the students and staff! They will continue to work in the next two weeks to deep clean the entire building. Thank you also to Lori Kabel, Director of Building and Facilities, who, along with Joe Sexton, Custodial Supervisor, has developed a comprehensive plan to systematically deep clean buildings in preparation for our reopening. Additionally, Lori is making sure to take every opportunity to keep our typical maintenance and building projects moving forward. She is taking advantage of this closure to do maintenance and repair work, originally scheduled for April and summer vacation.

Continuous Learning Update

Dr. McGuinness and the curriculum coordinators will be meeting on Monday to plan for continuous learning for students in the next two weeks. This work was started last Wednesday during department meetings, and all teachers brainstormed activities for students to work on from home.

One of the best ways to keep learning is by reading daily. All WMS students also have accounts for i-Ready math online, as well as IXL math.

Chromebook Distribution

Grade 8 students may pick up their chromebooks on Monday, March 16th from 9 am - 12 pm. Here are the details:

  • Please enter through the Bemis Street doors only
  • Pickup of the chromebooks will be in the library
  • Your Chromebook contract must be signed and returned

I will let you know as soon as we can give out chromebooks to grades 6 and 7. We are waiting on chargers, and they should be in shortly.

Many of you have asked how to help...

One important way to help is by donating to the WATERTOWN FOOD PANTRY.

The Watertown Council on Aging administers the Watertown Food Pantry, which provides food assistance to any Watertown resident in need.

LOCATION: The Food Pantry is located at the rear of the Belmont-Watertown United Methodist Church at 80 Mt. Auburn Street. The entrance to the Food Pantry is around the left corner of the church (formerly St. John's) from the parking lot at the side of the building, basement level. Look for the Watertown Food Pantry signs.

DAYS and HOURS: Tuesdays, 10:00 am - 11:30 am and Thursdays, 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm.

Watertown residents need to bring identification including proof of address (driver's license, rent, or utility receipt). A five-day supply of food is available each month, as well as information about other food pantries in the area. Out of town residents can be served once per year. Home Deliveries on Tuesdays are available for homebound elders by request.

CONTACT: Call the Council on Aging/Senior Center at 617-972-6490 for more information, to volunteer, and to donate.

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Dr. Galdston's Updates

Here is the information that Dr. Galdston sent out:

March 13, 2020 Updates

Good evening Watertown Public Schools Families,

We have been working diligently to manage the impact of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and truly appreciate the patience of the WPS community as we respond to this ever-evolving situation. As you know, we decided to close all Watertown Public Schools from today Friday, March 13th through Friday, March 27th. Student and staff safety is our primary concern and the goal of all decision-making. Below you will find information that responds to many of the questions that families raised following our decision to close.

The Importance of Social Distancing and Personal Hygiene

To slow the spread of COVID 19, we must work together to practice social distancing. This means students should not be visiting friends, gathering at playgrounds or parks, or meeting in public spaces such as the library or the mall. Please note that the Watertown Public Library is also closed through March 27. We urge families and students to avoid gathering in large groups or in public spaces during this school closure. We encourage students to play outside, but only with household members when possible. Remember, the most effective way to combat COVID 19 is with proper handwashing and covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or elbow. Anyone who is feeling sick or has symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat should stay home.

Food Support for Students

We have worked with our school nutrition department to develop essential services for students experiencing food scarcity and/or insecurity to have access to meals that will comply with social isolation expectations. Meals will be distributed in the faculty parking lot on Barnard Ave behind Watertown High School, Monday - Friday from 11:00 am - 1:00 pm. Please note that all meals must be taken and consumed off-site. If assistance is needed to access the food station, please contact lunch_line@watertown.k12.ma.us or call (617) 926 7766. Additional food resources can be found at https://www.watertown-ma.gov/250/Watertown-Food-Pantry.

Enrichment During School Closure

To ensure equity of access, we cannot substitute in-person instruction with remote learning opportunities while schools are closed; however, we will provide multiple resources for students and families to utilize during the school closure. Resources will be available in various modalities and will depend on the grade level of the students.

The Watertown Public Schools Leadership Team will be meeting on Monday, March 16 to further plan and prepare. After the first four days of closure, we will provide families with information about ways to “Keep Learning Alive” as we experience this extended school closure. The suggested activities will not be mandatory and are not considered instruction. Student homework, grades, test scores and the like will not be negatively impacted by this school closure. Students, families, and faculty have many questions and while we do not have all of the answers at this point in time, please be assured we will update you as we learn more.

Previously Scheduled Activities

We know it is disappointing that activities are canceled and major events, such as the middle school musical, are postponed during the school closure. We will work to reschedule activities when school reopens. We understand that there will be questions about AP classes, college application deadlines, term ending dates, spring conferences, graduation, and other special events that we cannot yet answer at this time. We will communicate as information becomes available. The MIAA (Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association) has moved spring sports start to the earliest March 30, 2020.

At this time, WPS Central Office will be open. However, school buildings are closed for business. If you need to get into a building, please contact your school’s principal. If your child has medication(s) that are needed during this time period, please contact the Student Services Office at 617 926 7766 or email kathleen.desmarais@watertown.k12.ma.us.

Follow-up and Next Steps

This is an unprecedented public health situation that is rapidly changing. Our hope is that if we all work together, we can reduce the spread of this virus, protect our most vulnerable residents, and resume normal activities.

If you or someone in your household has a confirmed case of COVID-19, please immediately contact the Student Services office at (617) 926-7766 or at kathleen.desmarais@watertown.k12.ma.us. Please also contact the Watertown Health Department at (617) 972-6446. Please see the WPS Website for more information about COVID-19, with links to official public health resources: MA DPH and CDC at Update Center Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

Kind regards,

Dr. Dede Galdston, Superintendent