A Spring Break trip to Europe, a band performance, Mr. WHS and more Watertown Public Schools events have been postponed in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak in Massachusetts.
On Wednesday, Superintendent Dede Galdston sent a letter updating the situation in the Watertown schools as the COVID-19 virus spreads in the area. This comes a day after Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts, and several area colleges announced that students would not be attending classes on campus for the rest of the academic year.
In Watertown, a planned trip to Germany, Hungary and the Czech Republic has been postponed. About 60 WHS students had signed up to participate.
Also, the districtwide Bandarama concert, scheduled for March 11, has been cancelled.
Other events to be rescheduled are the Lowell School Literacy Night, Mr. WHS, and the Pennies for Patients Rummage Sale.
Galdston also repeated the message from Watertown Director of Health, Larry Ramdin, that there have been no confirmed or suspected cases of the Coronavirus in Watertown. She added: “and the risk of exposure to our students, staff, and families remains low at this time. However, we are continuing to take precautionary and preventative measures to ensure the health of our students, staff, and families.”
The Watertown schools remain open, but Galdston said the district is starting to plan for how students could continue to learn remotely, if the school buildings do need to be closed. Students in grades 6-12 could have access through the Chromebook laptops, Galdston said, and officials are looking at how it would work for elementary school students.
School officials have asked any any staff member or student who travels or has traveled outside of the country within the past two weeks inform the school nurse. If someone has a confirmed case of COVID-19, they should immediately contact the Student Services office at 617-926-7766 or at email@example.com.
The latest information regarding COVID-19 and the Watertown Schools can be seen on the WPS website, by clicking here.
Read the full announcement below:
Dear WPS Community:
Yesterday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 (novel Corona) virus. At this time, we are assessing how this most recent development may impact upcoming school meetings and events, and we will monitor the evolving situation and revisit these decisions daily. Out of an abundance of caution, at this time, only the following events are affected:
- Our large-scale, full-district Bandarama event scheduled for this evening, Wednesday, March 11 is canceled
- Literacy Night at Lowell School on Thursday, March 12 will be rescheduled
- Mr. WHS on Thursday, March 12 will be rescheduled
- Pennies for Patients Rummage Sale on Saturday, March 14 will be rescheduled
- As recommended by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, we are also postponing the overseas field trip that was planned for April break.
The Watertown Health Department assures us there are still no confirmed or suspected cases of Coronavirus in the Watertown Public Schools or the Watertown community, and the risk of exposure to our students, staff, and families remains low at this time. However, we are continuing to take precautionary and preventative measures to ensure the health of our students, staff, and families. Each day we are following the latest information from the federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Massachusetts Department Public Health (MDPH), and Watertown Health Department. We will also continue to evaluate in-state and out-of-state field trips. Please do not attend WPS events if you have a fever greater than 100° and/or flu-like symptoms, and keep children home from school if they are ill.
We continue to request that any staff member or student who travels or has traveled outside of the country within the past two weeks inform the school nurse. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, please contact the Watertown Health Department at (617) 972-6446.
Resources for families: We recognize that COVID-19 can make children and families anxious. We encourage parents and staff to use the attached resource from Riverside Trauma Center when talking with children about it. Children should reach out to a trusted adult if they have concerns, and please reassure them that the schools are working to keep everyone safe and healthy. You can stay informed about the COVID-19 outbreak by visiting the links for our governmental health organizations and you may also find updates on the WPS webpage at Update Center Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information.
Confidentiality: As with any medical information, confidentiality about our staff, students, and families must be maintained at all times according to federal regulations. Information about the reasons for absences, travel history, symptoms, illness, or treatment is protected and cannot be shared.
Planning for Remote Learning: in the event of prolonged school closures, we are planning how to provide continuous learning activities for all students, and we have formed a Continuous Learning Task Force to determine how best to provide learning remotely should the need arise. In our schools, we have the ability for our students in grades 6-12 to utilize Chromebooks, and we are considering how best to continue learning at the elementary level. If this becomes necessary, we will clearly communicate with families how to access resources to continue learning outside of the school building.
Thank you for your continued support and patience as we navigate this ongoing, evolving situation.
Dede Galdston, Ed.D., Superintendent
Kathleen Desmarais, Director of Student Services