Morse Weekly Family Newsletter: August 28, 2020
Published on Aug 28, 2020 16:46

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August 28, 2020

Greetings from Chad Leith

Dear Morse School Parents and Caregivers,

As we prepare to welcome our students back to school (for virtual learning on 9/16, and in-person learning on 10/13), we find ourselves grappling with many of the same challenges and painful realities that served as the backdrop to our school community’s experience in the spring. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to shape our approach to teaching and learning, and the persistent effects of racism and the overwhelming reality of implicit racial bias continue to weigh on all of us, but particularly on our friends, family members, co-workers, and classmates of color. With the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and renewed national protests against racial injustice, I would like us to begin this school year with a renewed commitment to doing what is within our power as a school community to disrupt patterns of racial oppression. Working to become an anti-racist school will benefit all Morse School children, as we empower them to recognize and respond to injustice.

Obviously, Morse School parents, caregivers, educators, and children represent a very broad range of experiences and we are all in different stages along a continuum of awareness about the existence and effects of structural racism. To become an actively anti-racist school, we need all members of our community to be taking their next steps on the journey from awareness towards action. Over the coming year, we will look to provide all members of our community with opportunities and entry points to engage with the important and necessary work of understanding and undoing structural racism within our school and community. To this end, I invite you to visit a new page on our school website that outlines the steps we are taking - and how you can get involved, including a list of anti-racist resources for parents and caregivers.

For our parents and caregivers of color, I want to extend a special invitation from the parent facilitators of the Morse Parents & Caregivers of Color Affinity Group. The group is intended as a safe space for the purpose of building community, sharing information, and empowering each other to advocate for our children to be heard, seen, and thrive at the Morse School. The group’s first meeting will take place (virtually) on Wednesday, September 9th from 6:30-7:30PM. Please see this flyer for more information, including the Zoom link.

For all members of our community, I’d like to extend an invitation to participate in the next meeting of the Morse School Working Group on Race & Equity on September 17th from 6-7:30PM (Zoom link here). Co-facilitated by Morse 4th grade parent Jennifer Betancourt and Morse math coach Liz Vincent and meeting monthly, the group is aimed at engaging all members of our school community in conversations about how the dynamics of racial oppression impact Morse School students, families, and teachers.

Thank you in advance for joining the members of our community in remaining committed to moving our equity work forward during this pivotal moment in time.

Introducing Nurse Samantha Pillen
I am very pleased to introduce Nurse Sam Pillen, who will replace Nurse Susan Aires, who retired in June. Nurse Sam joins our team after working on the Hematopoietic (Stem) Cell Transplant floor at Boston Children’s for the past two years. As an “as needed” school nurse for Cambridge, she had the opportunity to step in for Nurse Aires on a few occasions last year. Nurse Sam earned her B.S in Nursing from Northeastern University while also working as a nursing assistant at Boston Children’s and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Prior to getting her Nursing degree, Nurse Sam used her B.S in Psychology by working with children and families in multiple capacities including research projects, coaching lacrosse, and aiding families with children with developmental and mental health needs. Nurse Sam is excited to join the Morse School team and is prepared to face the challenges we may encounter this year!

In addition to Nurse Sam, we expect to have a full-time Health Aide on hand this year to support our in-person learners and make sure that we can quickly and safely respond to any health concerns that may arise. As I mentioned in the Fall 2020 Learning Overview that I sent last week, we will also be implementing rigorous health and safety protocols throughout the building.

Parent Info Sessions on 9/2 & 9/3
I am pleased to share that we have been able to place all students in accordance with the preferences that parents and caregivers indicated on the family enrollment survey. At present, we are preparing to welcome approximately 125 students in Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 3 to in-person learning here in our Morse School building. The remaining students have been assigned to remote classrooms. The Fall 2020 Learning Overview that I sent last week offers information on each learning format. However, Ms. Headley and I are also planning two virtual community meetings next week to share additional information and to hear your questions, concerns, and suggestions:

  • If you have selected an IN-PERSON classroom for your child, please join us next Wednesday, September 2nd from 5:30-6:30PM (Zoom link here).
  • If you have selected a REMOTE classroom for your child, please join us next Thursday, September 3rd from 5:30-6:30PM (Zoom link here).
I look forward to sharing additional information about the return to school at next week’s info sessions and in next week’s family newsletter. In the meantime, I wish you all the best for a restful and enjoyable summer weekend.


Principal Chad Leith

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Morse School
40 Granite Street, Cambridge, MA 02139  •  617.349.6575
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