Watertown School Officials Want Input on How to Spend Millions in Pandemic Relief Funds

The Watertown Public Schools will get close to $3 million to deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic, and School officials want to hear from the community about what sorts of things they would like to see the money spent on. As part of the federal American Rescue Plan, the Watertown Public Schools received an allocation of $2,868,929 which can be spent through June 2024. It is part of the third pandemic relief package for schools, known as Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III or ESSER III. The money can be spent to support safe reopening of schools and sustaining safe schools, as well as helping students with their academic, social, emotional and mental health needs. Superintendent Dede Galdston said that the grant application for ESSER III requires feedback from residents.

Public Invited to Take a Tour of the New Cunniff Elementary School

Charlie BreitroseA view of the length of the new Cunniff Elementary School, with the cafetorium/gym entrance extending out at the end. Construction at the new Cunniff Elementary School is nearly complete, and the public will get a chance to take a look around the building before it opens. The following announcement was provided by the Watertown School Building Committee:

The School Building Committee will be hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony and an open house at the new Cunniff School on Oct. 5, 2021. Ribbon cutting will be at 4 p.m. followed by an open house to tour the school until 7 p.m.Everyone is invited to attend this very exciting event.

Russo’s Closing Adds to Watertown Schools’ Struggle to Get Food for Lunches

The Watertown Public Schools are having a trouble ensuring they are getting enough food for the school lunches, due in part to the closing of Russo’s market. Shortages in food deliveries from national food chains, plus the loss of a key local source of food has left the Watertown Schools school lunch program uncertain what they will be able to serve to students each day, Watertown’s Director of School Nutrition Brandon Rabbit told WBZ Channel 4. Adding to the difficulty in securing items for school breakfasts and lunches is the closing of Russo’s. The market, which closed after decades in Watertown on Sept. 18, used to be a key provider to the Watertown Schools and about 90 other districts.

New School Director Begins Work to Make Watertown Schools More Equitable and Inclusive

Dr. Kimberlee Henry, the Watertown Public School’s Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. In her first few months in the Watertown Public Schools, the new Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has met with a wide range of people in town to become familiar with the school district and the community, and to build relationships with other departments and organizations in Watertown. The district created the new position in response to reports of students who had experienced racial bias and/or bullying in the Watertown Schools. One such incident was reported on by a local TV news station. The Watertown Schools have hired an outside group to conduct an equity audit, and hired Dr. Kimberlee Henry as the first Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Watertown Students Excited to Return to School, District Has COVID-19 Testing Policy in Place

The Watertown Public Schools opened last week and welcomed back full classes of students, with only a handful of COVID-19 cases, and plans to keep as many students in class as possible during the pandemic. The freshman class at Watertown High School is one of the largest in recent years, with 212 students, making the total enrollment at WHS 716, said Superintendent Dede Galdston. The kindergartens in Watertown also got a big group of students. There are 12 classes across the three elementary schools, with a combined 336 students. Watertown High School students were greeted by posters, streamers and banners when the school year started, said Senior Class president Emma Fallon.

LETTER: Watertown Teachers Union Responds to Calls for Vaccination

To the Members of the Watertown School Community,

School Committee Candidate Rachel Kay’s recent letter to the Watertown MA News regarding a requirement for Watertown teachers to be vaccinated was not surprising given the level of political discourse that has recently besieged our country. In the letter, Ms. Kay is dismayed that there is not a vaccine mandate in place for teachers in the Watertown Public Schools. Her letter implies that the Watertown Educators Association and Watertown Public School District are opposed to a vaccine mandate. Ms.Kay appears to be uninformed regarding this matter. Had she inquired about a vaccine mandate by asking WEA leaders, School Committee members, or Superintendent Galdston, she would have learned that this matter is currently in negotiations.