The Watertown Board of Health has removed the requirement for face masks to be worn while indoors in Watertown. The requirement had been put into place on Aug. 25, and as of Oct. 21 has been lifted. The board voted to rescind the requirement on Oct.
Several students tested positive for COVID-19 at a Watertown elementary school, in an incident that is the first confirmed in-school spread within the Watertown Public Schools. The nine confirmed cases were in one class, and the entire class is now under quarantine, Superintendent Dede Galdston said during Monday’s School Committee meeting. “We are definitely in a situation right now where we have in-school transmission at Cunniff Elementary School,” Galdston said. “We were able to really get through pretty much a full year in person without having a verified in-school transmission, but it did happen. It is very unfortunate and we are very concerned about the families that are impacted.” Most of the students who tested positive are asymptomatic, Galdton said.
As teachers return to school this week, and students joining them next week, we still do not know whether vaccines will be mandated for teachers and staff in Watertown Public Schools. We do know that the CDC, state government, and the largest teachers union in Massachusetts are all recommending school staff be vaccinated. Medical professionals, including Dr. Fauci, are saying that the best way to protect children under 12 who are not yet vaccinated is to surround them with vaccinated people. Many school districts have already put this common sense requirement in place. We are fortunate to be in a community where the majority of adults are vaccinated, including the majority of teachers. But, the data from the last 18 months show that when there was Covid-19 transmission in schools, it was usually driven by unvaccinated school staff.
Perfect Crime will play at the Aug. 25 Watertown Summer Concert. Wednesday night’s Summer Concert will be dedicated to the COVID-19 heroes, and features rock band Perfect Crime. Perfect Crime will play from 6:30-8 p.m. at Saltonstall Park, next to Watertown Town Hall (149 Main St.), on Aug. 25.
As far as I’m aware, Watertown has not yet announced a policy for COVID vaccination in schools. I’m writing today to urge you to adopt a mandate as many other jurisdictions are now doing. COVID vaccines are safe and effective, and are by far the most effective way to prevent COVID outbreaks in our schools and keep our teachers and students safe. I got vaccinated at the first opportunity and will get my children vaccinated as soon as they are eligible.
Masks, ventilation, social distancing, and testing can help, but there is a limit to what ventilation can do, and in many ways masks, social distancing, and testing are far more burdensome than getting a vaccine because the vaccine is two doses at single points in time, whereas masks and social distancing restrict what people can do every single day. It seems incongruous to mandate the less effective, more burdensome intervention, while leaving the more effective, less burdensome intervention up to the individual.
Watertown LibraryThe Watertown Free Public Library. The Watertown Library sent out the following information:
Beginning Monday, August 9, face masks will be required for all people ages two and older inside the Library. Current Library Hours:
Monday – Thursday: 9 AM – 9 PMFriday: 9 AM – 7 PMSaturday: 9 AM – 5 PMSunday: 1 PM – 5 PM
You are required to:
Wear a mask while using the children’s room, regardless of vaccination status. Follow CDC and Massachusetts mask and social distancing guidance for unvaccinated people.Beginning Monday, 8/9/21, masks will be required for all people ages two and older in the Library.
Library services have resumed. Library programming will be offered via Zoom and in-person outdoors through the summer. Meeting and study rooms are available for public use.
The beginning of the 2021-22 school year is just over a month away in Watertown, but some significant details remains uncertain due to the increased number of cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, particularly the Delta Variant. Superintendent Dede Galdston told the School Committee Monday night that she plans for in-person learning for all students, but there could be some virus-related requirements such as regular testing and wearing of masks. The final decision will come later this month. “I think it is too fluid, with what’s going on with the virus,” Galdston said. “As we get to mid- to later in August I will make a recommendation based on feedback — from the Health Department, from our teachers, from our families — to determine what is going to be the safest options for our students as we return to school on Sept.
This week, as the delta variant has spread, we’ve gotten new advice from the Centers for Disease Control, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. I’m personally going with the stronger CDC advice. New general advisory from DPH (July 30)
Today, in response to the emerging evidence of about the infectiousness of the Delta variant of the COVID virus, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued a new mask advisory. Masks remain mandatory in certain locations where risks of transmission are higher (including public transportation) and are newly advised in some additional circumstances. The mask rules page on the state’s website now includes the following summary.