Watertown School Budget Includes Additional Teachers, Funds to Deal with Impact of Pandemic & Diversity Issues

The Watertown School Budget for the 2021-22 school year includes an additional fourth grade teacher, additional custodians for the new elementary schools and someone to help with the district’s technology. Superintendent Dede Galdston presented the $53.75 million Fiscal Year 2022 budget to the School Committee Monday night, and the Committee will make a vote on Thursday to approve the budget. It will then be presented to the Town Council later in April as part of the FY22 Town Budget. The budget includes 3.5 percent increase in funds from the town, or $1.81 million. To provide a level-service budget, the same level of services in FY22 as the prior year, will cost $53.53 million, Galdston said, leaving $216,157 in funds for additional positions or programs. Much of the increase will be used on salary increases, additional pay for teachers who moved up a step, and increases to deal with enrollment increases.

COVID-19 Update, Free Testing Extended, New Groups Eligible for Vaccine

COVID-19 cases rose for the second straight week in Watertown, as did the rate of positive tests. Some new groups of people are now eligible to receive the vaccine, including people age 55 and older. The number of cases reported by the Mass. Department of Public Health was 81 over the previous 14 days, according to the April 1 report. That is up eight from the previous week.

Slight Increase in Watertown COVID Cases, Free Testing, Vaccine Info

The number of COVID-19 cases in Watertown increased for the first time since January. The Town’s cases over the previous 14 days was 73 according to the Mass. Department of Public Health report of March 25, which is 14 higher than the previous week. The last time Watertown had more cases than the previous week was in the Jan. 21 report, when there were 295 cases (the highest number of cases in one week for Watertown).

Watertown Schools Requiring COVID Pool Testing for Students Attending In-Person

Watertown students who attend school in-person will be required to be part of the district’s COVID-19 pool testing when they return to five-days-a-week classes. The School Committee approved the requirement on Monday night. Superintendent Dede Galdston said that the move will help keep students and staff safe. “We have all the strategies in place to prevent infections, but it is a highly infectious disease and our students are not vaccinated yet,” Galdston said. “Let’s do what we can across the board to keep our students and our community safe.”

Library Hosting Ask the Doc Forum on COVID, Series of Mental Health Workshops

The Watertown Free Public Library will host a virtual town hall where residents can ask doctors their questions about COVID-19 on Wednesday, and Thursday, the library hosts the first of a series of online mental health workshops. The library sent out the following announcements:

Library to Host Free COVID-19 Forum With Top Doctors

With so much conflicting talk of vaccines and variants, navigating the COVID-19 pandemic can feel just as confusing today as it did one year ago. In an effort to provide reliable information to their communities, the Watertown Free Public Library and the Providence Public Library are teaming up to offer a “COVID-19 Town Hall” on Wednesday, March 24. During this free, virtual forum, Dr. Robin Schoenthaler of Massachusetts General Hospital and Dr. Philip A. Chan of Brown University will answer your submitted questions about the virus, vaccines, and public health. Spanish translation will be available.

Watertown Football Team Excited to Kick Off Season After Being Delayed by Pandemic

Watertown running back David Manoukian and the Raiders kick off the football season on March 20 after being delayed several months by COVID-19. March traditionally is primetime for basketball, but during the COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts it is also time for some high school football. The MIAA delayed the football season from the fall to March, in what has been dubbed “Fall II.” Watertown High School will kick off its season Saturday, March 20 at 11 a.m. against Wakefield at Watertown’s Victory Field. “After 12 months of not having a lot to do, this is a real treat for us and I believe everybody in our program understands that and is treating it as if it’s something special,” said WHS Head Coach John Cacace.

See When the COVID-19 Vaccine Will be Available to the General Public, Those Under 65

Gov. Charlie Baker announced the eligibility dates for the remaining groups in the Massachusetts vaccine roll out plan on Wednesday. People age 17 and older will be eligible to get the vaccine beginning April 19, 2021, according to a report on Boston.com. Before that, people age 60 and above and certain workers will be eligible beginning March 22, and those 55 and older who have at least one qualifying condition will get access beginning April 5. See more about vaccine eligibility at the State’s website by clicking here. The Watertown Health Department has information about COVID-19 on its webpage, see it here.