The number positive tests for COVID-19 is going up for students and staff in the Watertown Public Schools, but they have remained low for those attending in-person. Superintendent Dede Galdston discussed COVID in the schools, as well as the results of the Watertown Public Schools’ surveys taken by parents, students and staff at Monday’s School Committee meeting. The district has 13 students and/or staff who have tested positive for COVID-19, but only three of those people are attending school in-person: two at the Early Steps preschool and one at Watertown High School. A total of 44 students and staff are in quarantine, including 15 at the preschool and 12 at Lowell Elementary School. Since Sept.
The following announcement was provided by the Watertown Public School:
Due to our desire to kick-start our new year off well, we will be focusing on testing students and staff who may have traveled or spent extended time with people outside of their immediate household prior to the return to in-person learning. In order to accomplish this, we will start the year in our remote learning model, Monday, January 4 through Wednesday, January 6, with a return to in-person learning on Thursday, January 7. In addition to our protocols for social distancing, PPE, handwashing, and staying home when sick, student testing is one of the safety measures that has allowed us to remain open. To date, we have processed 3698 staff tests, with 5 positives, and 317 pools of up to 10 students in each pool withonly 3 positive pools. The indication from these tests is that less than .15% of our students and staff that are part of our testing program have tested positive.
The following announcement was provided by the Watertown Public Schools:
Superintendent Deanne Galdston is pleased to share that Watertown High School has been awarded a $150,000 Skills Capital Grant by the Baker-Polito administration. The grant will support Watertown High’s Engineering Technology Program, the school’s first vocational/technical pathway, which is completed over three years beginning in students’ sophomore year. There are nine courses that students complete as part of the engineering program — engineering design, principles of engineering, digital electronics, civil engineering and architecture, computer integrated manufacturing, environmental sustainability, introduction to robotics, engineering design and development, and all aspects of the engineering industry. The Skills Capital Grant will allow Watertown High School to purchase and install state-of-the-art equipment that students will use to gain hands-on experience with real-world tools used in the engineering field. The equipment includes:
CNC milling equipment3D printersRobotic arm kitsMicroscopesDigital shaking waterbathElectrophoresis kitsBand saw, drill press and laser engraverVEX kits for computer integrated manufacturingNikon AX2S auto level, and more
“The Engineering Technology Program is an exciting way for students to gain practical experience in a growing and ever-changing field, and the Skills Capital Grant will be a tremendous help as we work to make the program more immersive and engaging,” Career Technical Education Coordinator Laura Alderson Rotondo said.
The following announcement was provided by MassBay Community College:
MassBay Community College’s registration for winter intersession courses, which run January 4–15, 2021, is now open. Winter intersession courses are intensive, 10-day courses offered for credit and non-credit. All winter intersession courses are being offered remotely. This is a chance for high school students, area college students visiting on winter break, and/or enrolled MassBay students to take courses in a short timeframe to help get ahead in their studies, earn college credits quickly, or get a step closer to graduation. “Intersession is a wonderful opportunity for students to take care of general education requirements or pre-requisites for advanced coursework,” said MassBay Dean of Admissions and Community Learning, Alison McCarty.
The Watertown School Committee passed a resolution opposing the graduation requirement of passing the MCAS for the Class of 2022 because the students were adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The subject came up when the School Committee considered a resolution from the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC) that opposed requiring the Class of 2022 who missed the MCAS having to make up the test and pass it in order to graduate. It also called for a moratorium on high-stakes testing during the 2020-21 school year as well as the following three years. While School Committee members agreed that the pandemic adversely impacted students learning, not all agreed that the testing should be suspended for three years. The resolution was brought to the attention of the School Committee by Lily Rayman-Read, who is one of Watertown’s representatives to the MASC.
The School Committee approved the creation of a new Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion position in the Watertown Public School administration on Monday night. The person will lead the district’s effort to ensure equity for students in the Watertown schools, but Superintendent Dede Galdston said he or she will not be the only one working on the issue. “It is about having somebody there in a full-time position that can keep us moving, hold us accountable, make sure the plans that we create — not that they create — are actualized,” Galdston said. “And really pinpoint and targeting the support that we need in terms of professional development, in terms of family engagement, in terms of hiring and recruitment and retainment (of staff members of color). They are going to be able to keep us going and keep us in the right direction.”
School Committee members spoke in support of creating the new position.
Perkins School for the Blind
Students at Perkins School for the Blind kept the tradition of the annual Holiday Concert going in 2020. This year they performed it virtually. Perkins sent out the following message, and video of the concert:
We want to wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy holiday season from the entire Perkins community. In that spirit, we’re excited to invite you to enjoy a video of this year’s virtual holiday concert! We had to do things a bit differently this year but music education at Perkins has continued and the students love it.
Minuteman High School design and visual communications teacher Allison Barry won an award from NOCTI. The following information was provided by Minuteman High School:
Allison Barry, a Design and Visual Communications teacher at Minuteman High School, is the winner of the 2020 Carl J. Schaefer Memorial CTE Teacher Award from NOCTI, the nation’s largest provider of industry partner certifications and industry-based credentials for career and technical education programs.
The award was established in 2013 to honor Dr. Carl J. Schaefer. As a lifelong champion in career and technical education (CTE), he gained national recognition as a CTE educator and author. He was also one of NOCTI’s founding fathers. This memorial award is a tribute to Dr. Schaefer’s memory and recognizes an outstanding CTE teacher or CTE teacher candidate.
School officials said they heard the parents and community members loud and clear at a recent forum held in response to the report by a Watertown Middle School student the she had been racially harassed at school and online. This week, School administration and the School Committee announced some steps they would be taking to stop this from happening again. On Monday, Superintendent Dede Galdston acknowledged that the Watertown Public Schools have much work to do. “I think we share the same goals which include making the Watertown Schools the safest, most welcoming and most inclusive learning environment for all our students and families,” Galdston said. “They and you deserve nothing less.”