Message from Chad Leith: September 22, 2020

Greetings from Chad Leith

Dear Morse School Parents and Caregivers,

The first full week of the 2020-2021 school year is underway and we are all in the process of adjusting to new routines and expectations. Please join me in taking a deep breath and approaching these first few weeks of remote learning with patience, flexibility, and a collaborative spirit. Our teachers and paraprofessionals have carefully designed their remote classroom schedules to strike a balance between live screen time and independent work time and between whole-group and small-group learning time. Despite careful planning, we will almost certainly need to make adjustments over the coming weeks, as we get a better sense of our children’s individual needs and a better understanding of which activities and routines are working best for our learners. We ask for your help by keeping the following norms and expectations in mind:

Daily Attendance
We are required by District and State Department of Education guidelines to monitor each child’s daily attendance, just as we would during a regular school year. It is our expectation that every child enrolled in the Morse School participate in a full day of learning by following the daily schedule provided by his/her teacher. Any unexcused absence during the day will be recorded and reported to the Cambridge Public Schools, just as it would under “normal” circumstances.

We are aware that our children have likely experienced learning gaps, due to the sudden emergency closure of schools in the spring. The only way for our teachers to begin assessing these gaps is by observing their students’ participation in planned learning activities throughout the day. Students who miss classroom activities also miss out on critical opportunities to connect with their classmates, explore new concepts, and practice new skills. Our teachers, paraprofessionals, and specialists are here to guide students through activities that may feel difficult or challenging and to make distance learning as positive an experience as possible. 

Norms for Supporting Your Child during Remote Learning Times
To support effective remote learning, we ask that you consider the following helpful norms:

  • Please be mindful of background noise and other distractions. TVs and radios as well as loud conversations going on behind or in the same room as your child, can make hearing difficult. This can be a distraction for your child as well as the others in the virtual classroom if the children are not muted. Similarly, the presence of other family members on a child’s camera can be distracting to the class.
  • Please be mindful of your own presence. We realize that sometimes an adult might be helping with a young child, however, to the fullest extent possible, the child is the participant in the classroom, not the adults. Please refrain from interrupting the teacher or participating in the lesson unless invited to do so by the teacher.
  • Please be mindful of your teacher’s schedule. Your child’s teacher is responsible for leading classroom activities from 8:25AM - 2:30PM. Even when your child’s teacher appears to be offline, he/she may be leading a small group, meeting with colleagues or coaches, or preparing for an upcoming lesson. This means that if you reach out to your child’s teacher, you may not hear back right away. We want to encourage strong partnerships with our families, but staff need to be given a reasonable amount of time to return your call or email as their focus is on the whole class. If you are experiencing technical difficulties, please contact Ms. Delaney or Ms. Sullivan.

Learning Materials Pick-Up
We have created a box of materials for each student. We will be reaching out in the next few days with a designated pick-up time for you to pick up your child’s materials.

Morse Race & Equity Working Group Recap
We were thrilled to see our highest turnout ever at last Thursday’s Race & Equity Working Group meeting. Over 35 members of our community joined the conversation, with robust representation from both staff members and parents. Many thanks to Liz Vincent and Jennifer Betancourt, who facilitated a thoughtful conversation centered around White Signs of the Times in Cambridge, an opinion piece by Dr. Sheldon Lloyd Johnson. The article and our discussion have pushed me to check my own behaviors and reflect on the way I engage and interact with others in my Cambridgeport neighborhood. If you participated in Thursday’s meeting, please take a moment to complete the feedback form sent out on Friday by Liz. If you were unable to attend, please consider joining the group’s next meeting on October 15th. For more information about the Morse Race & Equity Working Group and a full list of meeting dates, please visit the Working towards Becoming an Anti-Racist School page on our website.

Library Love Letter from Ms. Pennell!
Please take a moment to read this Library Love Letter from our Morse School Librarian Ms. Pennell. In it, you will find helpful information on how to request & borrow books, how to access e-books & audiobooks, and how to return library materials.

Wednesday 9/23 - Early Release Day
A reminder that tomorrow is an Early Release Day. We will begin the day at 8:25am with Morse Live Stream! (please access through your child’s CPS Google account). The day will end for students at 11:30AM. For more information on tomorrow and the schedule for the coming weeks, please check out the CPS Back to School Calendar.

Finally, we will be coordinating with our teachers and teams to schedule grade-level parent open house meetings over the coming weeks. I hope to have more information on specific days and times in my next family newsletter. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions, concerns, or suggestions.


Principal Chad Leith

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