Classes will return in-person after winter break, and students will be tested for COVID-19 on the first day back.
Superintendent Dede Galdston sent out a letter announcing the return. Cases of COVID-19 have been on the rise in Watertown and Massachusetts in recent weeks, including some confirmed cases among the Watertown School community. The district will hold a vaccination clinic on Jan. 11 from 3:30-7:00 p.m. at the Watertown Middle School. Participants must sign-ups in advance — click here to register
See Galdston’s letter below:
Good afternoon, WPS Community,
I hope that you are enjoying a peaceful and quiet week off from school and that you are able to spend time with your families. As we head into the New Year’s weekend, please consider avoiding large gatherings that may provide exposure to COVID.
A couple of updates:
Return to School: We will be returning on Monday, January 3, with an early release schedule and no Extended Day/morning care. The rationale for doing so is to ensure that all students can be tested for COVID as part of our pool testing program. By keeping children in rows or seated in the same direction, and by not having lunches or Extended Day/morning care, we will be able to minimize the number of close contacts as we determine the extent of COVID in our schools. We will test any student Tuesday who misses testing on Monday. Please send your child(ren) in with a mask that is tightly fitted around the nose and chin, preferably a surgical mask. We also are considering a delayed opening for reflex testing on Tuesday. Please check your email for an update on Sunday.
You must keep your child(ren) home from school if they have any symptoms of COVID (fever, chills, headache, sore throat, coughing, shortness of breath, congestion or runny nose, muscle aches, loss of taste/smell, nausea, or diarrhea). You should plan to take your child to the FREE rapid symptomatic testing clinic at Lowell West on Monday, January 3 (former St. Jude’s, 175 Main Street, Waltham) any time between the hours 7:30 to 10:30, no appointment is necessary. If you have any doubts or questions, testing at Lowell West is the best option. Any children who exhibit symptoms in school on Monday will be sent home immediately.
Vaccination Clinic: We will be holding a vaccination clinic on Tuesday, January 11, from 3:30-7:00 at the Watertown Middle School for 5-11-year-olds. Our students 16 and over can get a booster at this clinic as well. Advanced sign-ups are required– please use this link. If you are signing your 16+ child up for a booster, please make sure to sign up for a Pfizer booster.
Changes in isolation times: The CDC, the Massachusetts DPH, and DESE have adjusted the isolation times for people who have COVID. The isolation time is 5 days whether you are asymptomatic or your symptoms are resolving and you are fever-free. You will still have to wear a mask for the next 5 days, as you normally would at school (see chart below).
As always, please consult with your physician if you have questions about your child, and inform the school nurse if your child will be out due to COVID. If you find out your child has COVID prior to January 3, please inform our Director of Student Services, Kathleen Desmarais (email@example.com), as our school nurses are not in over vacation. We will be sending out updated COVID protocols shortly as well, as we await further guidance from the state.
I want to thank you all for your continued perseverance and resilience during this challenging time, and hopefully, we will see improvements after this wave of COVID. Even though we have seen cases rising in Watertown, our safety protocols, testing strategy, and vaccination clinics are the best ways that we can continue to offer the safest environment for our students and staff.
Dede Galdston, Superintendent