LETTER: Watertown Teachers Union Responds to State’s Letter on Starting In-Person Classes

The Watertown Educators Association supports the School Committee and Superintendent Deanne Galdston in their decision to begin the school year with a robust remote learning plan and a strategic return to in-person learning using sensible health and safety protocols. Educators are dismayed by Commissioner Jeff Riley and Governor Charlie Baker’s threatening directive to recklessly force students and educators back into school buildings. How the school year unfolds is a local decision arrived at democratically, and stakeholders in the community have made clear that beginning with remote learning is the best way to meet the needs of students while preventing the spread of COVID-19 to our students, our school staff, and the community. https://www.watertownmanews.com/2020/09/22/watertown-among-districts-encouraged-by-state-to-return-to-in-person-learning/

Educators want nothing more than to be back in classrooms with their students. However, the risk of COVID-19 makes that impossible, and is particularly concerning in Watertown where school buildings present health and safety issues to address before a physical return makes sense.

Dirt Removal Caused Messy Streets, Increased Cost for School Projects

A view of the design for the new Cunniff Elementary School. The old building has been demolished, and the first parts of the steel for the new school has been delivered. Dirt from excavation getting on the street has been an issue at both Cunniff and Hosmer, in East Watertown. Hundreds of truckloads of soil have been removed from the building sites of the new Hosmer and Cunniff elementary schools, which has caused a bit of a mess on nearby streets and added to the cost of the project. Last week, the School Building Committee received a report on the progress of the projects, and also approved a change order that added nearly $450,000 to the project (but was still within the total project budget).

Watertown Among Districts Encouraged by State to Return to In-Person Learning

The Watertown Public Schools welcomed students back Tuesday with classes being taught remotely via computer. On Monday, the Massachusetts education officials sent a letter to Watertown and other districts running virtual classes asking when they will start running in-person classes. The letter, sent by Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Commissioner Jeffrey Riley, asked 16 school districts where the rate of COVID-19 infections are low, to return to in-person learning. Belmont was one of the other districts to receive the letter from the state. State officials said that DESE only recommended remote learning for communities with high risk of COVID-19 infection.

Many Changes in Store for WHS Sports During COVID-19

Watertown High School’s field hockey team, and other sports, will soon start their fall season, but with several changes due to COVID-19. Weekend games, reduced schedules and very limited fans — these are just some of the changes in store for Watertown High School athletes this fall. Last week, the School Committee approved the plans for holding high school sports during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most Watertown High School fall sports teams will be getting ready for their season to begin in late September. Outdoor sports, except for football, will compete this fall.

MassBay College Doubles Number of Reduced Cost Offerings

The following announcement was provided by MassBay Community College:

Already the most affordable higher education option in MetroWest, MassBay Community College is pleased to announce another significant and cost-saving change in its course offerings. This fall, compared to fall 2019, the College has doubled the number of courses that use free or Open Educational Resources (OER) to 74 courses, which makes these classes more affordable to students. Open Educational Resources are free or low-cost text, media, and other digital assets which are useful for teaching, learning, and research. They are offered under a Creative Commons license that permits others to reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute them. In this format, students receive free or low-cost (under $40) access and use of the materials without the expense of buying or renting textbooks or other required course materials.

Schools Providing Chromebooks for All Students, Support for Families

A screenshot of the Watertown Public Schools Ed Tech help page for families. All students are starting the year remotely, and will use Chromebooks provided by their schools. Watertown students will be attending school remotely to start the year, and will do so on Chromebook laptops loaned to them by the district. To help parents and students navigate the virtual world, School officials have set up a tech information website. Superintendent Dede Galdston told the School Committee Monday that all students in grades 1-12 will receive a Chromebook from their school to use when attending classes remotely, Galdston said.

Metrics Look Good for Schools to Move to In-Person Classes, For Now

A map from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health showing the levels of COVID-19 in communities. Green means fewer than 4 cases per 100,000, yellow between 4 and 8 per 100,000 and red more than 8 per 100,000. Grey is less than 4 per 100,000. If the COVID-19 rates were they same as they are this week, Superintendent Dede Galdston told the School Committee Monday that the Watertown will start in-person hybrid classes in late October for the elementary students, late November for the middle and high school. The Watertown Public Schools decided in August that the first day of school will be on Sept.

Food Trucks Coming to a Neighborhood Near You, Preorder Now

Watertown-based Food Truck Festivals of America is bringing the food trucks to diners, including two trucks visiting town this weekend. On Sunday the Sept. 13, Trolley Dogs and Whoopie Wagon will be on Frank Street from 4 pm-7 pm. Diners must preorder food, which can be done at www.foodtrucktruckfestivalsofamerica.com/streats. For more information, see the announcement provided by Food Truck Festivals of America, below:

With tourism down, offices closed, college students working remotely and urban foot traffic down to a minimum, the hundreds of food trucks in New England had to do something to stay alive. The days of selling 400 lunches on the Greenway have been gone since March. What to do and where to go? So, now the food trucks are rolling to the suburbs where programs like Neighborhood StrEATs in Watertown have helped keep the trucks alive and brought some welcome culinary diversion to the neighborhoods.