Morse Weekly Family Newsletter: February 2, 2021
Published on Feb 2, 2021 09:05

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February 2, 2021

Greetings from Chad Leith

Dear Morse School parents and caregivers,

As I write this message, we are beginning the cleanup of a snowstorm that has shifted our entire school to fully-remote learning. Please remember that tomorrow, Wednesday February 3rd, there will be no school, so that teachers and teams can plan for 2nd semester changes, including the expansion of in-person learning.

February Materials Pick-up
This month’s Materials Pick-Up for our remote learners will take place from February 8th-12th (next week). Please plan to come by the Morse School building between 7:30am-3:00pm to pick up your child’s learning materials and library books for the remaining weeks of February. Please remember that these materials are provided so that your child can participate actively in the learning experiences that our teachers have designed. It is therefore very important that you stop by next week to pick them up. Additionally, 1st semester report cards will be distributed to families during the February pick-up week (report cards for in-person learners will be sent home in your child’s backpack). If you are unable to stop by during the hours noted above, please reach out to our Family Liaison Denise Sullivan.

4th & 5th Grade Models & Staffing Configurations
I am pleased to share that we have set our instructional model for grades 4 & 5. Our model will allow us to bring in all students who meet the district’s eligibility criteria, while also maintaining a robust, departmentalized model for our remote learners. As illustrated in this overview, we will offer a three-classroom model at each grade level, with two remote classrooms and one in-person classroom (at this time, we can only accommodate two additional classrooms due to space constraints and safe distancing requirements). At both grade levels, in-person students will continue to receive some instruction through their devices, including science and social studies from their remote teachers.

  • In 5th grade, Peggy Jeram and Elsa Roderick will continue teaching remotely, with Stephanie Jarvis stepping in to serve as our in-person teacher. Ms. Jarvis earned her B.A. in Elementary Education from Emmanuel College and is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Reading from Lesley University. She holds an elementary teaching license and has been a member of the Morse School community since 2017.
  • In 4th grade Mary DeWitte will shift to become our in-person teacher. Ms. Headley and I are currently working to hire a qualified remote math and science educator to join Dan Offley in teaching our remote learners.

Process for Assigning Spring 2021 In-Person Seats
Despite our strong desire to make in-person learning available to all Morse School students, safety considerations and space limitations continue to make this impossible. I know that this has been really disappointing for children who are eager to return to school. However, we have worked to fill our seats in the fairest and most equitable way possible. Our process has been guided by district eligibility criteria, which have included prioritizing in-person seats for our youngest learners, as well as for older students with IEPs or 504 plans, English language learners, students whose families are eligible for free/reduced lunch, and students who have been flagged by teachers for signs of social or emotional distress. Please click here to see an overview of the process we followed addressed each category of district eligibility criteria.

The Morse School proudly serves a very diverse student population, not only in terms of students’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds, but also their learning styles and family circumstances. Among Cambridge elementary schools, we serve the 2nd highest percentage of students with disabilities, the 3rd highest population of English learners, and the 4th highest percentage of students identified as economically disadvantaged. This has had an impact on who we have been able to welcome back to in-person schooling. Effectively providing our most vulnerable learners with the supports they need - while also adhering to strict COVID health and safety protocols - has also meant reconfiguring learning spaces in our building. This has had an impact on the number of classroom spaces available for teaching and learning in our building.

Given that the district's criteria utilizes confidential information that we are required by law (FERPA) to protect, we cannot publicly share why any particular student was found eligible to transition to in person learning. We also hope that you respect our students' and families' rights to this privacy by not questioning why a student was found eligible. The criteria are not visible to the eye and our students and caregivers don't deserve the added stress of divulging private information to others during this already difficult time.

Please know that if additional in-person seats become available, we will fill them through a district-administered lottery system and inform families of any change. You may also request a priority seat through the CPS COVID-19 Hardship Appeal process.

Continuing to Support All Learners
While we are unable to bring all students back at this time, we are committed to doing our best to provide all learners with a positive and affirming learning experience. This means continuing to work together to strengthen both in-person and remote learning. We are also eager to identify opportunities to bring our community together. Once restrictions on outdoor gatherings are lifted, for instance, we hope to plan outdoor events that will allow remote and in-person learners to see and interact with one another. We will also continue to evaluate our models as the public health situation evolves. If we are able to bring additional students in for in-person learning, we will. In the meantime, if you believe that your child would benefit from additional support, please see our resource page on maintaining your child’s social, emotional, and behavioral health, which includes information about how to connect with the members of our Student Support Team. Morse School educators care very deeply about our children’s academic, social, and emotional well-being; whether your child is learning remotely or in-person, we will continue to do our best to make the most of this very challenging school year.

Principal Chad Leith

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In Our District & Community

find it cambridge logo
Find opportunities for Cambridge families here – or call/text us at 617.686.2998 or email usPrograms are continuing to update their opportunities based on the recent state guidelines, so check back often!

New website helps families navigate the mental health system in Massachusetts. COVID-19 is putting incredible pressure on families. Many families are worried about their child’s mental health, but they aren’t sure where to turn or how to get started., a new family friendly website, can help.

Cambridge Scouts
Cambridge Troop 56 BSA (Boy Scouts of America, now known as Scouts BSA), would like to make families aware of our troop, open to both girls and boys from age 11 (6th grade) through age 20.
Details >>

Science Club for Girls
Science Club for Girls is excited to announce our Spring 2021 programming. We will be holding all Science Club for Girls programs virtually via zoom. There is no cost to attend our clubs. To offer flexibility and convenience, participants are able to choose one of three weekly meeting times. We will hold our virtual clubs at the following times and days:
• Tuesdays from 3:30-4:30PM
• Thursdays from 3:30-4:30PM
• Saturdays from 10:30-11:30AM
All materials will be provided free of charge and distributed at a convenient location prior to the first week of clubs. Clubs will begin the week of February 23rd. The clubs will run for 8 weeks. For an example of how virtual Science Club for Girls programs are run, please enjoy this video of our Summer 2020 Virtual Rocketry Program! Space is limited - please apply today

Lasagna Love!
A group of awesome people are making and delivering home-cooked lasagnas for families who are struggling as a result of the pandemic. Lost income, lost childcare, impacted by COVID in another way? Whatever the situation, we want to help! It’s a meal, neighbors helping neighbors, no strings attached. We have volunteers ready to help as soon as this week!! Request a meal: If you would like a hand with dinner one night in the coming weeks sign up here. Feel free to share the link with others!

Food Resources 
Find information on food pantries, farmers markets, and more!
Details >>
Food resource flyer >>

Guide to Healthier Snacking
Find handy tips on the right hand margin of the School Health page on the CPHD website! Guide available in multiple languages.
Details >>

SNAP & WIC Store List

Here's a handy list of all stores in Cambridge where your SNAP and WIC benefits can be used.
Details >>

The Spirit of MLK in the Arts and in the Politics of Today
February 10 | 12PM
Members of the community share how the work of MLK motivates and informs their work today.
Details >>

Curiosity Challenge
Part of Cambridge Science Festival
Deadline: February 28
Open to students ages 5-14
Details >>

Daily Table
A community nonprofit market – now open in Central Square!
Save an average of 30% on groceries.
Details >>

After-School Orienteering Mini-Games
 Navigation Games is providing mini-games at different parks this winter!
Details >>

DHSP After-School Programs
K-8 FREE Virtual Programming!
Register >>

COVID-19 Testing

Testing appointments through the City's free mobile-testing program are now available at the following locations:
-CambridgeSide in East Cambridge; 11AM-7PM, Sundays and Thursdays; Drive-through testing in garage, enter on First St.
-50 Church St.; 12-8PM, Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays
-2254 Massachusetts Ave, St. John the Evangelist Church; 10-6PM, Wednesdays
-Pisani Center located at 131 Washington Street; 11AM-7PM, Saturdays
**You can schedule an appointment online or by calling 617.349.9788.

Fight the Flu. Get Your Flu Shot!
Now more than ever, it is critically important to get a flu shot (also called seasonal flu vaccine). Flu season begins in the late fall and goes through winter, peaking between the months of December and February, but people can still get the flu as late as May. Preventing the spread of flu will limit the need for flu-related medical appointments and hospitalizations, freeing up resources to help people with COVID-19. You can make an appointment for a flu shot with either your healthcare provider or local pharmacy. Cambridge Health Alliance patients (12 - 22 years old) OR Cambridge Public Schools students (12 - 22 years old) can now receive a flu shot at the Teen Health Center located in Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. Call 617.665.1548 to schedule an appointment.
Details >>

McLean Hospital Mental Health Webinars 
McLean Hospital has dedicated their time making free resources available for the public and professionals in hopes of promoting healthy individuals and communities.
Details >>

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Morse School
40 Granite Street, Cambridge, MA 02139  •  617.349.6575
CPS Mobile App >>
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