Wednesday , December 29, 2021
Dear Watertown Public Schools Families and Faculty,
I hope you are all having a wonderful break and finding time to enjoy this festive season. Thank you to all WPS families and faculty who have continued to report any COVID positive cases or have requested guidance this holiday week to our dedicated COVID email hotline. I encourage all WPS members to continue to email email@example.com if you have a positive case as someone will get back to you right away.
This message outlines five important updates in regards to COVID 19. Please see below:
Part I: Virtual Town Halls
It is always our goal to provide information in a timely manner to the WPS community. However, we acknowledge that important updates from CDC and DPH have been released over the holiday break when people may not be checking email as frequently and believe it is important for everyone to hear this information in various ways and times.
Upon returning from break, the Watertown Public Schools will host virtual town halls for faculty and families to help provide additional information and time for clarification and questions to be heard. The virtual town halls will offer additional opportunities and platforms for WPS members to share their questions. Dates for each of the town halls will be released after January 3.
Part II: Rise in cases and our continued partnership with our local health district TAHD
Covid cases continue to rise across the region and nation. It is important to note that any rise in cases for the Watertown Public Schools is in direct relation to the overall uptick. We continue to work closely with our local health district to determine the best way forward.
Although our Watertown community was not in the ‘double red’ category on our latest report, our secondary indicator that remains orange has increased since last week.
Part III: CDC guidance released this week
At the start of this week, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated new guidance around the quarantine period for those who test positive for Covid-19 cases, Click here. CDC reduced the isolation period from 10 full days to 5 days. HOWEVER, it is important to note that the reduced 5 day isolation period ONLY APPLIES to positive cases who have NO symptoms after 5 days.
In addition, this guidance is not in effect for K-12 schools yet. The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) and State Department of Health (CSDE) are currently reviewing this guidance and will update all CT schools later this week or just after schools return on January 3, 2022. Based on this timeline, Watertown Public Schools will work with TAHD, CSDE and CTDPH once the final guidance for our State is received and then work to create a plan that can be safely operationalized for Watertown specifically.
Part IV: Distribution of at home test kits for towns and K-12 school districts
The State of CT has procured a substantial number of at-home COVID test kits and municipalities around the State will be distributing them to residents. Click here to read the Governor’s press release announcing the distribution of At-Home Test Kits and N-95 Masks.
For Watertown Residents
Watertown is anticipating receiving COVID-19 test kits and N-95 masks for distribution. The town is currently working out the details with the State of Connecticut and anticipates receiving and distributing test kits on Thursday, December 30, 2021. As long as everything from the State arrives on time, test kits will be distributed at John Trumbull Primary School 779 Buckingham Street Oakville on Thursday afternoon. The town will update the town website and social media to reflect current information. Residents should be prepared to show proof of residency.
For Watertown Residents and K-12 Parents
All PreK-12 schools in Watertown also anticipate receiving COVID-19 test kits and N-95 masks, however, we will not receive our allotment until after January 3rd. Once we determine how many of each we are to receive, another message will be sent out to notify families on how we will distribute these items.
Part V: New definition of “Fully Vaccinated”
CDC also updated the definition of ‘Fully Vaccinated’. At this time, fully vaccinated individuals are now defined as those who have:
Received the booster vaccination OR
In the last 6 months completed the first two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine series OR
In the last 2 months completed the single dose of the J&J vaccine
Faculty who have already completed their booster vaccination should submit proof of their third vaccination to central office when they return from break. All other faculty should try their best to book an appointment for a booster vaccination and submit proof of booster vaccination to central office once completed. The district is here to support all employees and understands there will be questions about the booster vaccination. Upon our return, a virtual town hall meeting will be held for questions and information to be shared.
The Watertown Public Schools will continue to participate in the Screen and Stay program in the new year with this new definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ to ensure that we can keep as many students and faculty in school when they are eligible based on the screen and stay protocols. If you would like to read more about eligibility for screen and stay, click here.
As always, I thank everyone in the Watertown community for demonstrating the ability to adapt and thrive with every new piece of guidance we receive.