There were more positive COVID-19 cases in the Watertown School District during the 2021-22 school year than the previous year.
That’s something members of the Watertown School Board learned recently during their June meeting.
“In conjunction with the American Rescue Plan, we had a Safe Return to School Plan for 2021-22. It was probably much less strict than the 2021 plan,” said Superintendent Jeff Danielsen.
He explained that part of the plan was that masks were optional. Changes were also made to how the school handled positive cases and close contacts.
“We only kept COVID positives home,” Danielsen said, not close contacts.
During the 2021-22 school year, Watertown schools saw 647 COVID-19 cases, of which 525 were in students.
“Compared to a total of 575 last year, we had more positives this year,” Danielsen said.
There were times when the district struggled to keep classrooms staffed because there were 122 COVID-19 cases among teachers.
“We saw a couple of big spikes this year,” said Danielsen. “In September, we had 14 staff and 96 students. Our big month was in January. We had 58 COVID-positive staff members and 250 students.”
Watertown schools had to depend on their substitute teacher pool, and Danielsen said the district is again seeking substitute teacher applicants.
“I want to thank the principals and staff members for helping to keep the school running. There was a lot of coverage to be done with our substitute pool,” said Danielsen. “We feel our year went fairly well with the reduced options this year.”
Next year’s Safe Return to School plan will be ready closer to the start of school. The district is waiting for guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and the state.