Dear Watertown Families,
Please read the important message from the Superintendent, Dr. John Ramos
As you know, Watertown Public Schools shifted to a full Remote Learning model beginning on Monday, November 23, 2020, as we could not safely staff our schools and sustain a reasonable level of quality instruction for all students. Since that time, our hope and intention has been to bring students and staff back to school on December 14 in a Hybrid Learning model, after the incubation period following Thanksgiving. Please know that there is nothing we want more than to bring students back into our buildings.
As a result of this commitment, we have been simultaneously planning for a return while closely monitoring several factors in order to determine the feasibility of bringing students back into our buildings safely and in a manner that does not negatively affect both the quality of instruction as well as normal operations. Factors include parent survey data; community spread trends in Watertown; trends in positive cases within our schools, and the requirement to quarantine for both staff and students; the implication of these trends on our ability to sufficiently staff our buildings and cover classrooms; the potential effect on quality of instruction as well as normal operations (to include security, facilities upkeep, and cafeteria services). Our findings are summarized below:
- Data reveals that we are currently unable to staff our classrooms and buildings at a safe and operable level.
- Community virus spread continues to trend upward. Click HERE for the table.
- In several of our schools, data supports that in the two weeks before the move to remote instruction, the virus had been transmitted from students to teachers and from teachers to students. This was not the case prior to November 19, another indicator of increased community spread.
- The total number of known positive cases in the district over an 11 week period from September 8, 2020 to November 19, 2020 equaled 23 while the total number of known positive cases in the district over just a 2 week period from November 20, 2020 to December 4, 2020 equaled 24.
- Well over 100 students and staff members are currently in quarantine due to being a close contact to a COVID-19 positive person.
- Once we moved from in-person learning to remote learning, the total number of students who needed to quarantine as a result of contact dropped significantly.
- Parent survey data revealed that 38% more families intend to have their children attend school in person in January 2021 versus on December 14.
After careful and painstaking consideration of all of these factors, and in collaboration with the Torrington Area Health Department, we have determined that it is not feasible for students to return on December 14 as we had hoped. Rather, we will plan for a Tuesday, January 19, 2021 return to school, following a two-week incubation period after Winter Break. Grades K-5 will be full in-person and grades 6-12 will be on a Hybrid schedule at that time.
This is not what any of us has hoped for. Please know that we recognize how difficult the changing schedules have been for families, and that we are making the best possible decisions we can with the information we receive to keep everyone safe and continue to meet the social, emotional and academic needs of our students.
Thank you for your continued support of our district and our students. It is greatly appreciated.
Dr. John Ramos
Watertown Public Schools