Wednesday, December 22, 2021
Dear Watertown Public Schools Families and Faculty,
I would like to commend the faculty, families, and students of the Watertown Public Schools for demonstrating flexibility this year and a continued ability to adapt to an ever evolving Covid landscape. As mentioned in previous updates, we continually monitor multiple Covid data points, in conjunction with State guidance, to make decisions as we review strategies to make necessary changes to our Covid protocols. Our ability to adjust and respond has been extremely important since the start of the year.
Over the past three to four weeks, the Watertown Public Schools have seen a steady rise in Covid cases. Most notably however, in the past few days, there has been a dramatic increase in positive cases in both the Town of Watertown and the Watertown Public Schools. Please click the link for our most recent covid report by town 12.21.2021 COVID Report. Many surrounding towns are in the double red category while Watertown’s secondary indicator is still orange.
Returning from Winter Break
During the holiday season, many families will take part in group gatherings and social activities. While we hope everyone has a safe and joyous time celebrating the season, we ask that all families take extra precautions in group settings. In addition, we strongly recommend ALL families and faculty to get tested prior to returning to work and school on January 3, 2021. Click here for a list of testing sites provided by 2-1-1.
Upon returning from Winter break, the district along with our local area health department (TAHD) will be closely monitoring for Covid cases and WPS may need to quickly strengthen mitigating efforts if we see a continued spike in cases.
Strengthening mitigating efforts may include, but not limited to:
Limiting/restricting visitors in school buildings
Limiting attendees at activities/events and/or rescheduling/cancelling
Revisiting all CDC/DPH/TAHD guidelines to determine the safest way forward
If this happens, a communication clearly outlining the steps the district will take in response to high covid levels will be clearly communicated to all faculty and families. Included below are answers to Frequently Asked Questions that may provide friendly reminders on our current protocols.
As always, thank you for your continued partnership as we work to keep everyone in the Watertown Public Schools community safe this holiday season.
I hope you all have a joyful and relaxing winter break!
Frequently Asked Questions
If Covid cases are on the rise can we go back to remote learning like last year?
There have been a couple questions about returning to a remote learning model in response to the recent increase in Covid cases. At this time, remote learning is not an option for school districts. As stated in the July 15, 2021 guidance from CSDE, the goal to keep kids in school consistently without interruption means remote learning is not an instructional model that can be implemented as it was last year. Although CSDE may revisit this guidance, the choice to move to a remote learning model was no longer an option at the start of the 2021-2022 academic year. If there are any changes to this provision, a communication will be sent out immediately to all families.
Why does my child have to quarantine if WPS is part of the ‘Screen and Stay’ program?
The Screen and Stay program (click here) has very strict parameters and guidelines for eligibility. As a reminder, students who are exposed to Covid outside of a school setting are not eligible for the Screen and Stay program. Only students who are exposed inside of a school setting + asymptomatic + fully masked during the exposure are eligible to screen and stay. Any and all other exposures are required to follow the guidelines set out in Addendum 5 (click here).
If my child is currently on the ‘Screen and Stay’ program can they go about their day as usual after school is done?
If a student is partaking in the Screen and Stay option, they should not be participating in after school activities such as recreational sports, playdates, and other social activities.
How come Watertown doesn’t have a free testing site anymore like we did last year? I tried to get a test but everything is booked and nothing is available.
According to DPH, not only are testing sites fully booked there is a shortage of tests. Local pharmacies; the State’s priority testing sites; and hospitals continue to be the main providers for Covid tests. The Governor has announced that nine additional Priority Testing Sites will be opened in the State of CT to help alleviate the current testing backlog and when the locations become available it will be communicated to all WPS faculty and families.
What can we do to try and decrease the number of Covid positive cases?
Although we are seeing an increase in covid positive cases within our schools, there continues to be minimal/low transmission/spread in schools in comparison to the larger community. Following mitigating strategies both in and outside of school; reporting symptoms/positive cases in a timely manner to school personnel; and staying home when you’re not feeling well are all ways we can work together to help slow the spread of Covid.
Happenings and Useful Information
Dates to Remember
December 23 - Early Dismissal Day
December 24 - 31 - Winter Break
January 3 - All faculty and students return to school
In recognizing the challenges for students and families brought about by the pandemic, including social isolation and interrupted peer-to-peer and student-to-family relationships, CSDE has provided the following resources on how to talk with kids about Mental Health and Online Safety. Click the resources below:
If you or someone you know needs emergency help this holiday season: Dial 9-1-1 or you can always call the 2-1-1 HELPLINE
https://www.connectingtocarect.org/support-services/.Children’s Behavioral Health Services Resources
Health and Safety
LOCAL: Our local Torrington Area Health Department continues to provide weekly reports on: Covid-19 positivity and vaccination rates within the Torrington Area Health District (TAHD) jurisdiction Click here for all weekly updates
Save on Prescriptions: Single Care: Employee Prescription Savings Card Program
Quote of the Week
“It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes, or bags!... Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! Maybe Christmas he thought doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas…perhaps….means a little bit more.” ~ The Grinch, Dr. Seuss