Watertown City School Superintendent on COVID-19: ‘We have a problem in our community’


WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Following the decision to switch the District to exclusively remote learning, Watertown City School District Superintendent Patricia LaBarr shared a message with the North Country.

“We have a problem in our community,” stated LaBarr.

Watertown City School District has transitioned the entire District to virtual learning for a month due to a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases.

Up until January 8, the District has been able to avoid closures due to adequate staffing and little impact on students and faculty.

This shift attributed to gatherings during the holiday season. According to LaBarr, I large reason for this decision was the impact on critical staffing which involves teachers, food service and nursing. 

“What’s happened most recently is that the cases that are testing positive, they have started to have a significant increase on the population within the District,” stated LaBarr. “Now community spread is coming into the District and infiltrating the District, and we need to stop the spread.”

LaBarr added, “the way that we stop the spread is to keep people separated from each other.”

The Watertown City School District has approximately 50 employees and 100 students in quarantine due to COVID-19 cases within the community. Additionally, since the switch on Friday, five new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the District.

“We have had staff that have been impacted, but never in that magnitude and we’ve always been able to cover internally and through our substitute, but the numbers just keep increasing and we’re not seeing an end in it yet, “stated Superintendent LaBarr.

What happens now?

All District remote students will continue as normal, and hybrid students will learn from home. The District plans to continue their food service, sports are postponed and staff and faculty will work remotely from their classrooms, with exceptions.

Superintendent LaBarr shared the following message regarding COVID-19 in the North Country community.

We’re almost approaching one year, we have a problem in our community and we all have to step up and acknowledge that. We have to do that for each, and for our children. Our children deserve to be in school. We miss them. We want them in school. For some of our kids, we haven’t seen them since last March.

And that makes me sad. Friday was probably one of the toughest days of my career.

I know I’m focusing on school age children because that’s my job, as Superintendent. But I also think about our elderly community and our most vulnerable population.

Sometimes we all have to make some personal sacrifices for the safety of other people. I think thats my message today is that ‘it’s all about me attitude has got to stop.’

Again, we have all done such a good job up until the holiday season. I would say to you, let’s get back to all of those things we were doing because we know, looking at the data, that those were working.

The Watertown City School District is set to continue remote instruction for all students through February 1, 2021. The District plans to reeavaluate community conditions prior to that date and make a decision whether to extend remote learning.

For more information regarding WCSD services and announcements, visit the District website.


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