Sunday, January 2, 2021
Dear Watertown Public Schools Families and Faculty,
Since Friday, there have been multiple updates from the CT State Department of Education in response to CDC and DPH’s updated guidance earlier last week.
This message outlines important updates and one clarification in regards to the recently and rapidly disseminated COVID 19 guidance. Please see below:
Part I: WPS will adopt a shortened quarantine period
At the start of last week, CDC reduced the isolation period from 10 full days to 5 days. The State of CT has now provided guidance for all Prek-12 schools to move forward with this adjustment.
“People with COVID-19 should isolate for 5 days and if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving (without fever for 24 hours), follow that by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others to minimize the risk of infecting people they encounter. The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after”.
How will this impact Watertown Public Schools?
Families who emailed over the holiday break and are currently in quarantine will receive an email or phone call today from WPS Central Office with updated ‘end dates’ for their current quarantines. The following timelines will be followed to adjust to a 5 day quarantine:
What about Student Athletes?
All school districts are currently waiting for further guidance from DPH and the CIAC. At this time, student athletes will continue to follow the current CIAC guidelines and may not return to interscholastic athletics until cleared by the athletic department. As soon as updated information from CIAC is released, it will be shared with as soon as possible. Click here for the current CIAC guidelines from the State of CT.
Part II: WPS will adopt the updated contact tracing and parent notifications guidance
Routine contact tracing of individual exposures that occur inside schools or during school-organized and supervised activities can now be discontinued.
DPH recommends that schools begin to refocus the activities of health staff away from the investigation of relatively low risk in-school exposures and toward the identification, early isolation, and clinical management of students and staff with active symptoms that could be related to COVID-19.
The Watertown Public Schools will adopt this new guidance and discontinue individual-level contact tracing however, we will continue to strongly enforce the following:
Universal masking inside schools
Ensure that periods of unmasking inside the school (e.g., meal periods) are as brief and as distanced as possible
Appropriately notify staff and parents/guardians of students regarding positive cases occurring in the school population as appropriate.
Part III: New definition of “Fully Vaccinated” (CLARIFICATION from 12/29/2021)
As CDC has still not released the official update to the definition this past weekend, the WPS will return to defining fully vaccinated as follows:
Any individual who is two weeks after their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
In anticipation of CDC updating the definition of ‘Fully Vaccinated’ any faculty who have already completed their booster vaccination should submit proof of their third vaccination to central office when they return from break. 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.
Guidance will continue to be provided from the State, CDC and DPH over the course of this coming week. As we return to school and work, any changes, adjustments or clarifications will be provided to the WPS community as soon as possible.