Watertown Schools Moving to Hybrid on Oct. 27

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Watertown elementary school students will return to school, part time, beginning Oct. 27. Superintendent Dede Galdston sent out the announcement Thursday evening.

Superintendent Dede Galdston said the decision was be based on the state’s latest report on the number of COVID-19 cases and rate of positive tests in Town.

In a letter to parents Galdston wrote: “… Watertown remains in the ‘yellow’ status, our positivity rate is low, and therefore we will be crossing the Bridge to Hybrid at the elementary level beginning on Tuesday, October 27 for our Cohort A students and Wednesday, October 28 for our Cohort B students.”

Principals will be sending out more detailed updates to parents, Galdston said, “including start and dismissal times, entry and exit procedures, transportation and drop-off/pick-up procedures, and any other necessary protocols for moving to hybrid.”

Students will have to follow COVID-19 protocols, Galdston said.

“All children must have masks and wear them at all times (in the classroom, in the hallways, in the bathrooms, and even outside), except during scheduled mask breaks. Every morning, you must assess if your child has any COVID-19 symptoms and if so, keep your child at home and call the school,” she wrote in the newsletter.

Read the entire newsletter by clicking here.

Galdston added that School officials are considering moving Watertown Middle School students from remote to hybrid beginning the week of Nov. 9. That decision will also be based on the latest COVID-19 data.

The decision was delayed until Thursday afternoon because the state’s COVID-19 community level report came out later than previous weeks. In past weeks, that report had come out on Wednesday, but starting this week the report came out on Thursday at 4 p.m.

Watertown’s COVID-19 positive tests went up slightly for the report that came out on Thursday, Oct. 22 at 4 p.m. The Town remains in yellow for moderate risk, and average new daily cases is 5 per 100,000 residents over the past 14 days. Last week it was 4.5 per 100,000. The positive test rate is 0.74 percent over the past 14 days, slightly up from 0.70 percent in last week’s report.

Surrounding Towns have also seen an increase in cases. Newton and Cambridge moved from green to yellow. Waltham and Boston remained in red, but had higher positive test rates, and Belmont’s rate rose but the town remains in green.

On Wednesday, Galdston said in a Twitter post that the decision will be made after the release of the latest data.

Last week, for the first time, Watertown moved into the yellow, or moderate risk category in the state’s Community Level COVID-19 Data Reporting system. Before that, the Town was green, or lower risk. To be in yellow, communities need to have between 4 and 8 new cases a day per 100,000 residents over a two week period. Previously, Watertown had been just below 4, but the latest report was up about 0.5 cases a week, pushing Watertown into the yellow category.

Starting hybrid for the elementary schools on Oct. 27 is on schedule for the district’s Bridge to Hybrid Plan. The middle and high school were scheduled to start hybrid no earlier than Nov. 30, but school officials are now considering moving up the start for Watertown Middle School during the week of Nov. 9.

State education officials are scrutinizing Watertown’s plans for moving to hybrid, after the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education had sent a letter in September pushing for hybrid to start earlier than called for in the district’s plan. On Tuesday, Watertown School officials received word that the district is being audited regarding this decision.

School Committee Chair John Portz said that Watertown School officials came up with the plan before the state released its COVID-19 guidance on Aug. 11. Also, the plan was made after surveys and interviews with parents and teachers.

10 thoughts on “Watertown Schools Moving to Hybrid on Oct. 27

  1. There are clearly two schools of thought, both which I respect, with regard to when the Watertown Public Schools should open. That said, I strongly support the Watertown School Committee and Superintendent’s decision to create a safe environment for our students, staff, their families and our community as a whole. In my opinion, the Department of Educations recent letter stating that they will audit Watertown and Longmeadow for failing to open soon enough is political, at best. I am conflicted by why major companies restrict employees from coming back to work, weddings and funerals are limited in attendance but it is ok to send hundreds of students and teachers back to school when Covid 19 positive tests increased to 986 today statewide. These are numbers which support a second surge of Covid 19, as predicted by health experts months ago.
    Again , I understand that my opinion is in the minority, while our Town turns from Green to Yellow due to the beginning of the second surge of Covid-19 I our state, but I note that Waltham is Red (ie. where the Cunniff Students will attend their temporary school while their new school is built) and Boston (ie. which includes our immediate neighbors in Brighton) is also Red. This begs the question of whether Watertown will be effected negatively by proximity to almost half our neighboring cities being Red? Personally, I hope that Watertown remains a safe place to live and work and that all our students, staff and their families remain safe and healthy.

    • Your speaking on emotions. Other states have sent kids back with no issue. It is their best interest to return to school , if your in the at risk group stay home! Safe from what a virus that is highly contagious and a one percent mortality!

      • Regardless of if you want kids to go or not go to school she certainly is not making her statements by only ‘emotions’ given she is stating facts and asking decent questions. Sounds like your statement is more on opinion or driven by emotion.

    • Bravo! I’ve been thinking the same things.I am a retired teacher and the grandmother of a Watertown student who is doing extremely will with online learning.

  2. Is Watertown considering making Wed.the day when no students are in the building ? Cohort A Monday and Tuesday. Wed. would be a day to disinfect the school thoroughly . Cohort B Thursday and Friday. Sat. to disinfect the school again. This has been elsewhere and makes sense to me.

  3. Entering into a hybrid now makes very little sense and seems very irresponsible. The covid numbers are ticking up almost everywhere. Watertown should have been in school in a hybrid that first week in September but instead held off and waited.

    The blame is not only on the superintendent but also on the School Committee, Town Manager and especially the Teachers Union. The teachers union had way too much influence in the decision making and that should not have been allowed.

    Now we are entering what looks like the second wave of the virus and now the schools are planning to open. That’s insane and reckless.

    Parents have every right to be enraged.

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