Watertown Schools Opening Late Wednesday, Over 100 Positive COVID Tests

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The Watertown Public Schools had more than 100 positive COVID-19 tests after retesting on Tuesday. Classes will start late on Wednesday.

The positive tests were more than 10 times more than has been seen in the Watertown Schools, said Superintendent Dede Galdston.

The arrival time for Watertown Schools are: 10 a.m. for Early Steps Preschool, 10:15 a.m. for the elementary schools, and 10:30 a.m. for the middle and high schools.

See more details in the letter sent out by Galdston on Tuesday:

Good evening, WPS Community:

We deeply appreciate your patience today as we appropriately responded to the overnight Covid pool test results. We are presently finishing up at Lowell West, after a full day of reflex testing. In the early morning hours, we received our pool testing results. Below are some data points to better understand the situation.

  • 116 presumptive positive or inconclusive pools (32 at WHS, 26 at WMS, 12 at Lowell, 22 at Hosmer, 9 at Cunniff, 1 at Early Steps, and 11 at Lowell West)
  • This is 10x more than our worst week. For reference, prior to this week, the most positive pools we’ve experienced in WPS were 10 pools.
  • These pools require up to 1000 reflex tests as there are up to 10 samples per pool, all needing to be accomplished by our nursing staff and their support staff.
  • Additionally, yesterday 140 individuals came to our symptomatic testing program, yielding 36 positive cases.

Delayed opening tomorrow, Wednesday, January 5th.

In order to ensure that we test all students who were in positive pools, we are scheduling this delay. Our outstanding nurses are currently entering the data from the testing into our spreadsheets, and we know that a sizable number of students did not come to our testing program today.

  • Arrival times tomorrow are: 10:00 a.m. Early Steps, 10:15 a.m. Elementary Schools, 10:30 a.m. Secondary Schools
  • Dismissal times are normal, and we will be serving lunches in our schools.
  • Extended Day will happen as usual, but there will be no morning care program.
  • There will be busing as usual, with pick-up times being two hours after the usual time your child is picked up.

Additional Follow Up Needs

  1. If your child was identified as being in a positive pool and was not able to attend the testing program today, you must be tested prior to arriving at school tomorrow. Testing will take place at Lowell West (the former St. Jude’s School) in Waltham from 7:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
  2. Any students who were absent on Monday, January 3rd who return to school tomorrow will be pool tested in their respective buildings.
  3. If your child develops symptoms of COVID, DO NOT send them to school. You should bring symptomatic children to Lowell West any school day morning from 8:15 – 10:30 for rapid antigen testing.

The purpose of pool testing, tightening up our protocols, and the other safety strategies that we have in place is to assure the continued safety of our students and staff. We are able to screen individuals for COVID and have them isolate in order to prevent spread and transmission in schools. At this time, we believe that with the extra time tomorrow morning and the support of our families to keep children home when they are not well, we will be able to resume normal school hours on Thursday, barring any unforeseen circumstances.

We are also confident that with the measures that we put in place this past Monday, there were little to no close contacts, as defined by being within 3 feet for more than 15 minutes of a positive individual. The administration and nurses will be reviewing the cases in the morning during the delay to ensure that any close contacts are determined and notified.

We are facing a surge in COVID cases. I understand that the virus may be less virulent, but it is still highly contagious and dangerous for many people in our population. We must endeavor to keep each other safe and well in the coming weeks, which means being diligent with mask-wearing, distancing at mealtimes, and keeping physical distancing throughout the day, both inside and outside of school. If you are concerned about having your child in school, please know what we have in place the best measures possible to keep our community safe while they are in our buildings.

Thank you once again,

Dede Galdston, Ed.D

Superintendent of Schools

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