Superintendent Dede Galdston will recommend that the School Committee allow mask wearing for students to be optional, as long as the COVID-19 cases trend continues “in the right direction.”
Currently, students must wear a face covering in the classroom at all times, and during breaks and lunch, except when eating or drinking.
The presentation will be made at the School Committee’s meeting on March 7, Galdston said in an announcement. She noted that unlike past vacations, the district did not see an increase in cases after February break.
“Based on our pool testing and parent/staff reporting, we only have six known active COVID cases in the district,” Galdston said in the announcement. “We are pleased to have such a dramatic drop in the number of cases present in our school populations, as previously the numbers of COVID cases have spiked after vacations. This is a strong sign that the prevalence of COVID is trending in the right direction.”
Galdston also sent a reminder about the optional at-home test program. Tests will only be distributed to staff and students who opted into the state program. To opt in, fill out this online form.
She said the recommendation to make masks optional will be contingent on the number of cases in the Watertown Schools continuing to remain low. The change would take effect on March 9, according to Galdston.
A new set of metrics to decide when masks will be optional, or required will also be presented to the School Committee. The metrics were written after Galdston met with the Watertown School’s Heath Team with the support of the Watertown Health Department.
Each Monday, the District will provide families with a color-coded dashboard along with the metrics on COVID in Watertown and the Watertown schools. The most recent metrics report can be found here.
“Please note that any decision to move away from or back to mask-wearing will be made in consideration of all of these metrics combined,” Galdston said in the announcement.
Thank you for your continued collaboration and support throughout this pandemic.
- Ideally 80% but at least 70% for all students 5 and up
- Currently, we have reached this target in Watertown
CDC COVID-19 Community Levels
This past Friday, the CDC updated its guidance and metrics for mask-wearing, designating communities at Low, Medium, and High Levels for COVID (see Chart for more information about these metrics). For our purposes, this means:
- Low and Medium levels: Mask wearing is optional
- High Levels: Masks are required
- Currently, the level in Middlesex County is Low
Community COVID cases and positivity rates
New cases per 100,000 in the past 7 days
- Low Risk: 0-9.9 indicates Mask wearing optional
- Medium Risk: 10.0-49.9 indicates Mask wearing optional
- High Risk: 50 or more- indicates Mask wearing recommended/required
- Currently, the risk is medium
Percent of positive tests
- Low Risk: less than 5%- Mask wearing optional
- Medium: 5%-7.9%- Mask wearing optional
- High Risk: 8% or higher- Mask wearing recommended/required
- Currently, the risk is low
The number of students/staff with COVID
- Please see the attached document outlining when local numbers in school indicate masks should be worn in classrooms or by the whole school
- Currently, no classrooms or schools would require mask-wearing
Vulnerable student and staff populations
- Reasonable accommodations are provided for students and staff when needed
- Students who are immunocompromised should discuss mask-wearing and appropriate accommodations with their medical provider
- Any requests for accommodations above personal mask-wearing should be provided to the Director of Student Services, Kathy Desmarais at 617-926-7766 or email@example.com
Participation in at-home antigen testing
- At least 50% of students participate in at-home testing
- Watertown is currently past that percentage