The Watertown Health Department is investigating a case of Coronavirus in Watertown, and the Watertown Public Schools will be closed temporarily beginning Friday.
The update on the Town of Watertown website reads:
We have been advised that there is a presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in Watertown. The case is not associated with the schools and has no children in the school system. The Health Department case investigation is ongoing and we will provide additional information tomorrow.
Watertown Superintendent Dede Galdston confirmed that the Watertown Public Schools will be closed for two weeks beginning Friday. The closing applies to all students attending out-of-district schools, extra-curricular activities, extended-day before/after school care, athletics, clubs, and building use.
While the case in Watertown was not related to the schools, Galdston said there are concerns about secondary contacts with someone who has COVID-19.
“We do this out of an abundance of caution, particularly out of sensitivity to families and staff who have underlying conditions that make them more vulnerable to complications should they become infected. We also do not do this lightly, as we know that this will impose a hardship on families who do not have childcare options,” Galdston wrote in the letter.
Students will have a chance to get items from their lockers between 9 a.m. and noon on Friday, March 13.
The School Committee will meet Friday at 4:30 p.m. to discuss next steps. The meeting will be broadcast on WCATV (https://wcatv.org/). If you have any questions that you would like to have addressed, please email them to Kathleen.Demarais@watertown.k12.ma.us.
Other districts have closed temporarily, including Belmont, Arlington, Lexington, Burlington and Winchester. Arlington had a student test positive for Coronavirus. Watertown Superintendent Dede said Wednesday that the district is looking at ways of holding classes remotely using Chromebooks for grades 6-12.
The Watertown Public Schools sent out the following message to parents:
Dear Watertown families,
We have made the decision to close all Watertown Public Schools for two weeks starting tomorrow, Friday, March 13th. Schools will remain closed through Friday, March 27th.
Increasingly, we have seen a significant shift in the coronavirus outbreak. We spoke with Watertown Health Department officials, and at this time there is one presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in Watertown, not connected to the WPS’ community. Additionally, we have seen an increase in secondary contacts reporting possible contact with an individual who may have been tested for the virus. Therefore, similar to our neighboring districts, we have decided to take proactive measures to slow the rapid spread of the virus. We do this out of an abundance of caution, particularly out of sensitivity to families and staff who have underlying conditions that make them more vulnerable to complications should they become infected. We also do not do this lightly, as we know that this will impose a hardship on families who do not have childcare options.
Please be aware that this school closure period of time may be extended or shortened should State authorities so direct. This closure applies to all schools, including students who are attending out-of-district schools, extra-curricular activities, extended-day before/after school care, athletics, clubs, and building use.
Students who may have left personal items in their locker or in the school can retrieve these belongings tomorrow, Friday, March 13, between 9:00 a.m. and noon. As we move through next week, we will communicate with you further with additional details about our closure. Over the next week, you will hear additional details from your school principals regarding the availability of access to learning opportunities during this closure. We recognize that this is unprecedented and that this closure will be a significant burden for a number of our families. Please know that we remain committed to supporting you to the greatest extent possible during this time.
We will be holding a School Committee meeting regarding our next steps tomorrow afternoon at 4:30, which will be broadcast on WCATV. If you have any questions that you would like to have addressed, please email them to Kathleen.Demarais@watertown.k12.ma.us. To promote social distancing, we request that you watch the meeting via WCATV and submit questions via email.
As always, we will continue to closely monitor this situation and follow the guidance of our local board of health, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). If you any questions, please reach out to your child’s principal or Kathy Desmarais, the Director of Student Services.
Dr. Dede Galdston & The WPS Leadership Team