Watertown city school district goes ‘remote only’ for rest of January

Watertown city school district goes ‘remote only’ for rest of January
Watertown High School (Source: WWNY)

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Citing a “significant increase” in COVID-19 cases, the Watertown City School District will go to remote-only instruction for the rest of January.

Seven new cases were reported by school district officials Friday.

In a statement late Friday afternoon, school superintendent Patricia LaBarr writes “the District has made the very difficult decision to transition to our remote learning plan” starting Monday through Friday, January 29.

“The decision to close school was not made lightly.

“Watertown has decided that closing school for all students was a necessary porecaution to prevent further spread of COVID-19 throughout our District and community,” LaBarr writes.

“Our goal will be to return to in-person learning, using our current hybrid and remote models of instruction on Monday, February 1,” LaBarr writes.

Friday’s announcement came as the district copes with a slew of new COVID-19 infections.

On Friday the district was notified that two students from Knickerbocker Elementary School, a student from Case Middle School, a student from Watertown High School, one Ohio Elementary School employee, one Knickerbocker Elementary School employee, and one Starbuck Elementary employee have all tested positive for COVID-19.

Most students in the Watertown school district attend school in one of two ways - they either get their classes fully remote, or by “hybrid,” in which they attend school in-person two days a week, and receive remote instruction for the remainder of the week.

In her statement, LaBarr said K-6 students should follow their teacher’s daily remote instruction schedule, and students in grades 7-12 should follow their daily class schedules.

She said attendance will be recorded and assignments will continue to be graded.

LaBarr said the school district is “doing everything in our power to continue to provide academic opportunities and minimize disruption to our students, families and staff.”

Some details about virtual classes:

- SACC will continue to provide daycare services at SUNY Jefferson. Get more information at 315-755-2005.

- Remote instruction materials will continue to be posted on Google Classroom and Seesaw, and teachers will use ParentSquare to communicate with families.

- All special education services will be provided remotely.

- BOCES students will attend all classes virtually.

- Food service will provide pick up for seven meals on Wednesdays from 10:30am to 12:30pm at North Elementary, Ohio Elementary, Sherman Elementary, and Watertown HIgh. You can sign up through ParentSquare or by calling 315-661-4025.

- All athletics are indefinitely postponed.

Although Watertown is far from the first school in northern New York to be forced to go to remote-only learning, as one of the two largest districts in the region the decision takes on special significance - more students, and parents will be affected by Friday’s decision.

One thing that won’t change: snow days. The district will call delays or snow days as normal, with no virtual learning on snow days.

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