Sunday, August 22, 2021

Dear Watertown Faculty, Families, and Students,

We are so excited to welcome back all of our students and faculty this week! 

I hope that summer break has brought you all time to relax and reinvigorate for the start of this year. Although we are not completely back to ‘normal’ as we had imagined we might be when school let out last year, our goal as a WPS team is to have as close to a pre-pandemic type of year as possible. With increasing vaccination rates; continued work with our local health department, nursing team and the health guidance provided to us; and remaining vigilant with mitigating strategies when we are in school buildings, I know we will be on the safest track to a successful year for all students.

Over this week, you will continue to receive important updates from your child’s principal and the central office teams. In addition, as more information is provided by the CDC/DPH and CSDE, our website will be continuously updated and the reopening plan will evolve to reflect each adjustment.

With anticipation in the air we can’t wait to see you all soon!

Two important items, I would like to point your attention to this week:

  1. Virtual House Call for Parents and Families: The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE), together with Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and other healthcare providers, is hosting a virtual meeting on Monday August 23, 2021 from 5-6 p.m. to answer families’ questions about what to expect and how to prepare for a safe and successful return to school. I encourage interested WPS families to register for this event. Please see the attached flyer.

  2. Here are the main safety guidelines that will be in place for the first day of school:

Click here for the most recent version of Adapt, Advance, Achieve: Connecticut’s Plan to Learn and Grow Together - Fall 2021.


WPS Vaccine clinics will take place on the following dates and times:

This is a decision for families to discuss and all students under 18 years of age require signed parental consent. Please see the attached consent form here: DPH Vans COVID Vaccine Consent Form

Mask Wearing 

  • In accordance with Executive Order 13 no. A and in following the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Masks are required for all students and staff, regardless of vaccination when in a school building and on a school bus/transportation vehicle

  • Any groups that utilize school buildings before or after school hours are also required to follow the Executive Order 13 no. A and wear masks when inside of a school building.

  • Mask breaks will be provided to students throughout the day. 

  • Masks are not required and optional outdoors. This includes during physical education classes and recess that is held outdoors.

  • Fully vaccinated teachers will be encouraged to utilize face shields and clear masks during active instruction at the front of the classroom.

Physical Distancing

  • WPS will open the academic year with 3 ft of social distancing when possible.

  • Returning to a variety of full in person instructional grouping models is strongly encouraged inside of classrooms. 

  • Instructional and non-instructional spaces will be maximized with the continued storage of excess furniture. 


  • Cohorts will not be required to reopen.

  • Cohorts may be used in situations as they arise and as determined by schools.


  • All lunch service will return to regular (pre-pandemic) service and follow the National School Lunch Program guidelines.

  • Students will eat lunch with 3ft social distance as best as possible. 

  • Alternate seating will be made available both indoors and outdoors when possible. 

  • Visitors will not be permitted during lunch waves.


With Governor Lamont’s last Executive Order, school districts may require any visitors to school buildings to be vaccinated. Once this information is clarified, the WPS community will be updated.

At a minimum:

  • Visitors must follow all COVID related mitigating strategies when entering school buildings.

  • Visitors will be limited to enter our building in order to conduct school business or attend school functions.

  • All visitors must wear a mask when entering and within a school building.

  • School administrators will determine how many visitors can be in a school building at the same time based on where the visitor is headed and the social distance that can be achieved within any given space. School administrators will determine this by following the district’s Covid guidance.

  • All and any visitors may be asked to leave a school building if they are not in compliance with the school’s covid requirements.

Athletics & After School Activities

  • WPS will follow all CIAC recommendations and CDC/DPH guidelines to ensure the health and safety for our athletes participating in sports this year. 

  • Extra curricular activities and clubs will convene for the 2021-2022 academic year and all mitigating strategies will be followed.

Recess/Physical Education

  • Masks are not required and optional outdoors. 

  • This includes during physical education classes and recess that is held outdoors.

Arts Performance

  • Masks must be worn at all times when inside of a school building. 

  • Students should continue to use the mitigating strategies from the Spring when singing or playing instruments indoors. 

  • This includes bell covers, 6 feet distance and masks/face/instrument shields. 

  • Music classes are encouraged to take place outdoors when possible to increase air flow.

Screening Testing

  • Diagnostic screening and testing will not be part of WPS Reopening at this time.


Hand Hygiene

  • Handwashing and sanitizing practices will continue in the new academic year. 

Staying Home When Sick

  • Staying home when feeling sick with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 is essential to keep COVID-19 infections out of schools and prevent spread to others. 

  • Students, teachers, and staff who have symptoms of a potentially infectious illness, such as influenza (flu) or COVID-19, should stay home and be referred to their healthcare provider for diagnostic testing and care.

Quarantine Length and Returning to School

  • We will follow the same quarantine length as we did at the end of last year. The student/staff may return to school on day 8 with a negative test (antigen or molecular) result (test must occur on day 5 or later) or after day 10 without testing. Students can return to school on day 8 after the school nurse reviews and approves the negative test results as valid. Please share test results with the school nurse and wait for confirmation that your child has been cleared to return in person to school.

  • Fully vaccinated staff/students do not need to quarantine but must self-monitor for symptoms until 14 days after exposure. If symptoms develop, self-isolate and contact healthcare provider, continue to take steps to reduce the spread of infection. All fully vaccinated individuals are required to provide proof of vaccine to the School Nurse for approval/verification before entering the school building after a positive exposure.

Determining a Close Contact

  • Quarantine practices will continue based on the guideline of being within 6 ft. for 15 minutes over a 24 hour period to a person who is positive for COVID-19.

Exception to the Close Contact

  • CDC has included an exception in their definition of a close contact for students in a classroom setting. Students (not teachers or other individuals) within a classroom setting (not on buses or in other non-classroom settings) do not need to be considered close contacts if they are not within 3 feet of a known COVID-19 case for 15 minutes or more (cumulative over a 24- hour period), provided:

– contact between students happened exclusively inside a PreK-12 school classroom (e.g., no additional contact in a cafeteria, on a bus, during sports, outside of school, etc.)

– both parties were wearing a well-fitting mask consistently and correctly during the entire duration of their contact

– the student who is considered to be a close contact remains asymptomatic

  • Fully vaccinated students and staff who have had close contact with a known COVID-19 case but have no symptoms

– do not have to quarantine away from school or extracurricular activities (such as sports)

– should be tested 3-5 days after exposure but can continue with activities until such time as they receive a positive test

– should wear a mask when in public or otherwise engaged in activities with individuals outside of their household until they receive a negative test (or for 14 days with no test)

Student Support for Quarantined Students

  • Students who need to quarantine due to COVID 19 will be provided with access to all essential classroom assignments through their class’ digital platforms and/or asynchronous work. 

  • An educator will check in with students in quarantine via google meet at assigned times throughout the duration of the quarantine.

  • Students who receive special education services and are medically unable to attend school due to a verified medical reason will follow the district’s Homebound Instruction Process.

  • Once the year begins and we get a sense of our COVID 19 data/quarantine numbers, we will revisit the plan above and adapt our approach to supporting students in quarantine if the number of students requiring quarantine related supports is much higher than expected. 

Please click here for the reopening plan draft #2 and click here for the most recent guidance from the state titled, Adapt, Advance , Achieve. The next regular Board of Education meeting will be held on Monday, August, 30, 2021 at 7:30PM in the WHS Auditorium. 


Dr. V

Happenings and Useful Information

Welcome! New Food Service Director 

Click here to read the press release

It is with great excitement that we welcome Ms. Emily Doering to the Watertown Public Schools as the next Director of Food Service for the district. On Tuesday, August 17, 2021, the Watertown Board of Education appointed Emily Doering in a special board meeting. 

Most Recent Press Releases and Executive Orders

As press releases and EO’s are updated, the main website will be updated and can be accessed by the public interested in reading the latest guidance. The two most recent executive orders are still currently under review by the CSDE in order to clarify how this will impact school districts operationally. As more information is provided, I will clearly communicate all updates to the WPS community.

 Remote Learning

Remote learning will not be available in 2021-2022. Please see the most recent update: July 15 Update on Remote Learning.

  • Students who receive special education services and are medically unable to attend school due to a verified medical reason will follow the district’s Homebound Instruction Process.

Teachers for Connecticut

Dalio Education is collaborating with public school teachers to launch “Teachers of Connecticut,” an online platform that will support teachers across Connecticut in making their voices heard, in their own words.


 Watertown High School Events

Polk School Events

Judson School Events

  • August 27 from 5:30-7:30 PM - The annual Back to School Bash is back!

 JTPS School Events

  • August 25 from 1-3PM - ‘Popsicles on the Playground’ for all incoming kindergarten students plus one family member will meet their teachers on this special day, no siblings so that we can follow Covid guidelines.

 Transportation Change Requests

Contact Michelle Pennella at First Student directly michelle.pennella@firstgroup.com 

Quote of the Week

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness”.