Watertown Schools expanding in-person learning for K-6 students, Superintendent shares hopes

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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Following both CDC and New York State guidance, allowing for 3 feet social distancing in schools, the Watertown City School District is moving forward to expand in-person education.

The District announced on April 14 that it will be welcoming all kindergarten through sixth grade students, who are currently following a hybrid schedule, back for five-day in-person education on May 6.

According to the District this is a soft landing when it comes to reopening education. Or in the words of Superintendent Patricia LaBarr, “a good place to start.”

“Starting the last six weeks of school, we’re going to bring back our hybrid students,” stated LaBarr. “Because with all of the requirements right now, this is the logical place for us to start.”

However this change does not come without challenges.

“I’m cautiously optimistic, because as we do these plans and things change in our community, if things change within the district, we’re going to keep moving forward,” shared LaBarr.

Some of the biggest concerns voices by LaBarr included lunch time, as students will still be required to eat six feet apart. Some solutions to this included staggering lunch times.

An additional concern voiced by many is transportation. As per state and federal guidance, all students will still be required to maintain six foot social distancing. LaBarr expressed that if transportation schedules are altered dramatically by the May 6 switch, this could cause problems.

Addressing that the buses are currently close to the allowed limit “we are in a good position. But if things were to change, I want to be realistic about that; we will have some transportation issues.

The District is now informing parents that the method of transportation that their child has been utilizing, bus, walking, etc, will be continued over to this switch. LaBarr added that the District will constantly be observing and updating its plans to accommodate.

And plans for the 2021-22 school year? It’s too soon to tell or predict what these may be.

But Superintendent LaBarr’s hopes have remained the same since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020.

“What I’m looking forward to is having kids back in school,” expressed Superintendent LaBarr.

Adding, “I have said that since March 16th of last year. That first Monday where we didn’t have kids, I have waited for the day and yeah, we have had kids in school, but having our hybrid kids back here full-time and kindergarten through sixth grade, we’re moving forward. It’s a step in the forward direction.”

The Watertown City School District officially will bring its hybrid K-6 students back for five-day instruction on May 6, 2021. More updates and information can be found on the Watertown City School District website.

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