From Principal Leith: May 29, 2020

Dear Morse School parents and caregivers,

Even as we grapple each day with the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, the recent deaths of unarmed black men and women in Georgia, Kentucky, and Minnesota have once again called attention to the reality that we live in a society shaped by systemic racism. While geographically removed from the Morse School, the killings of Ahmaud ArberyBreonna Taylor, and George Floyd are rooted in deep and historic patterns of racism that also define the experiences of children, families, and educators of color here in Cambridge. COVID-19 has only exacerbated inequities in our community that trace their roots to racial disparities in housing, employment, education, and access to health care. 

As adults responsible for raising the next generation, we have an obligation to reflect upon - and work together to understand and disrupt - the dynamics that have historically fostered white privilege while devaluing and disempowering individuals and communities of color. To do this, we will need to become more comfortable talking to each other - and to our children - about racism. Over the last two years, the Morse Race & Equity Working Group has engaged in a process that we hope will ultimately involve all members of our school community in conversations about how the dynamics of racial oppression impact Morse School students, families, and teachers. Please save the date for an end-of-year (virtual) meeting of the group onThursday, June 11th from 6-7:30PM. All parents, caregivers, and staff members are warmly invited to participate. Here is the link to participate in the 6/11 meeting via Zoom

In the meantime, one important step you can take towards disrupting patterns of systemic racism is to intentionally and regularly expose your children to books, movies, and television shows that include positive portrayals of characters of color. Common Sense Media offers a list of age-appropriate books featuring characters of color, and Ms. Headley and I have made certain to include many selections that highlight and celebrate authors, illustrators, and characters of color on our distance learning read-aloud page. Before we break for summer vacation, I will also collaborate with others in our community to compile a list of age-appropriate feature films that include characters of color in lead roles.

Wrapping up the 2019-2020 School Year
Although we are still awaiting final confirmation from the state Department of Education, we are currently anticipating that our last day of school will be Wednesday, June 17th. The final weeks of school will be busy as students and teachers wrap up their final instructional units and we take stock of student learning and growth. In lieu of report cards this year, you will receive a narrative overview of your child’s growth in literacy, math, and social/emotional learning, along with some recommendations for continuing your child’s learning momentum over the summer months. Over the next two weeks, your child’s teacher will also be reaching out about scheduling an end-of-year conference with you. Our special subjects teachers are also working on some fun activities and celebrations to bring closure to this unusual school year. In the meantime, we will continue to host a range of weekly extracurricular activities for children at all grade levels. Here is the schedule of next week’s events.

Leaving Cambridge? Please Return your Chromebook or Hotspot by June 17th
If you have plans to move out of Cambridge, leave the country, or transfer out of Cambridge Public Schools, we ask that you kindly return your child’s chromebook and/or wifi hotspot to the Mobile Helpdesk @ CRLS (located on Felton Street). The drop-in center is open next Monday and Tuesday from 8AM - 2PM, Thursday 6/4 from 11AM - 2PM, and then all Mondays and Thursdays through the end of the school year from 11AM - 2PM. If you plan to remain in Cambridge Public Schools for the 2020-2021 school year, you do not need to return your child’s chromebook or hotspot at this time.

School Council Meeting & Virtual Information Session
Finally, we have two important parent-facing events taking place next Thursday, June 4th. We will be holding a Virtual Information Session (by invitation only) for incoming JK and Kindergarten families at 4PM, and at 6PM we will be holding a School Council meeting. At our School Council meeting, which is open to all parents, caregivers, and staff members, we will discuss our distance learning model with an eye towards adjustments we might make in the event that we return to a virtual teaching and learning environment in September. I will also share data from the recent parent survey, as well as updates on school and district plans for summer learning support. Here is a link to participate in next week’s School Council meeting via Zoom. Please reach out to me if you would like dial-in information to join the meeting by phone.

Finally, in these difficult times, I’d like to remind us all about the importance of self care. This weekend promises to be beautiful, and I hope that you and your children are able get away from your computer screens and enjoy some time together outdoors.


Principal Chad Leith
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