Greer Gazette: September 26, 2023

Greer Gazette: September 26, 2023
Posted on 09/26/2023

Greetings CPS Community…

I hope you had a great long weekend despite all of the rain.

Last week, we celebrated a significant milestone in the construction of our new, state-of-the-art building that will house the Tobin Montessori School and Vassal Lane Upper School as well as some of the city’s Department of Human Services preschool and after school programs and Special Start classrooms. The final steel beam, signed in colorful markers by Tobin and Vassal Lane students, staff, and community members, was added onto the building frame during a “Topping Off'' ceremony. This beam represents the link that our current school community has to generations of future scholars, and we are proud that they have made their mark on this incredible facility. The 359,100 square foot building, which will be the most sustainable and energy efficient school building in the city, is expected to open to students in Fall 2025. See renderings of the final project and get updates on the building progress on our school websites (Tobin | VLUS).

We are also looking forward to sharing more information about the Cambridge Preschool Program (CPP), or Universal Preschool, which begins next school year. Next month, the city’s Office of Early Childhood will host a virtual information session, where families can learn more about eligibility, program options, and the application and matching processes. The virtual meeting is on Thursday, October 12 from 7-8PM. You can find more details about CPP below and on the Office of Early Childhood’s website.

Finally, I am proud to share this school year’s edition of Schools at a Glance. It includes information about each of our schools, programs, and key contacts for anyone who wants to learn more about our school community. Please share it with anyone who is interested in exploring all that our district and schools have to offer.

Make it Great!


Dr. Victoria L. Greer


Save the Date: Cambridge Preschool Program Information Session

Preschool Program

You are invited to a virtual information session about the Cambridge Preschool Program (CPP), also known as Universal Preschool, on Thursday, October 12 from 7-8PM. More information to follow.

  • CPP will provide free preschool to the families of all 4-year-olds and some 3-year-olds beginning in the 2024-2025 school year.
  • A child is eligible for CPP if they live in Cambridge and are:
    • 4 years old by August 31, 2024 for 4-year-old programs; or
    • 3 years old by August 31, 2024 for 3-year-old programs (please note there will be limited seats for 3-year-olds and there may be additional eligibility requirements)
  • The universal online application (paper applications will also be available) will open this winter and be managed by the Office of Early Childhood.
    • When completing the application, families will identify the programs they are interested in.
    • Families will then be matched with a preschool program based on the information they provided and program capacity.
    • Following the matching process, enrollment will be completed by CPS, DHSP, Head Start, or the community-based program.

What does CPP mean for CPS?

Back-to-School Events

Back to School Events

Our schools are hosting various back-to-school events, including open houses and other festivities, to help you get acquainted and meet other members of the school community.

  • Find the schedule of events on our website.

After School Resource Guide


Our After School Opportunities for JK-8th Graders Guide outlines all of the after school programs and opportunities available to your child across the City of Cambridge. It includes an overview of each program, timing, location, ages served, and cost.

COVID-19 Update

Free COVID Tests Available to All Households

The US government is offering four free at-home COVID tests to all households again. Tests will be mailed to your home by the US Postal Service after you place your order online.

CPS Policies & Procedures

Throughout the pandemic, we prioritized safe, in-person learning and made significant investments in a comprehensive plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We worked closely with the Cambridge Public Health Department and our school leaders to monitor the public health situation, gather input from scientific, medical, and educator experts (Health, Safety, and Facilities Working Group), and update our policies and procedures as necessary.

In addition to the current policies and procedures, which align with the end of the COVID-19 Federal Emergency on May 11, 2023, we ask that all students, families, and staff remain vigilant. If you test positive for COVID or have symptoms, please stay home and notify the school as you would for any other excused absence.

  • Isolation Guidance: Students and staff members who test positive must isolate at home for 5 days. They can return on day 6 if asymptomatic and fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medications. A mask must be worn on days 6-10.
  • Testing Plan: Our four-part plan focuses on targeted at-home testing after school breaks and includes testing resources.
  • Vaccination: Students are no longer required to be fully vaccinated to participate in school-sponsored before and after school activities.
  • Masking: Masks are available in all of our school buildings. With the exception of the Nurse’s Office, masks continue to be optional.
  • Ventilation: Every school has maximized air circulation through a combination of central systems, HEPA filters, windows, and fans. Regular air quality testing is also conducted and outdoor learning is periodically utilized.
  • Please note that we are poised to again respond quickly if conditions change.

Join the CPS Team

Cambridge Public Schools is seeking to hire talented education professionals for positions including Administrators, Teachers, Instructional Aides, and Substitutes for the 2023 - 2024 school year! We look forward to recruiting and hiring excellent educators to join our school communities for the upcoming school year.

Featured Events

Premiere Screening of New Documentary Film

The City of Cambridge invites you to the premiere screening of the It’s Basic documentary. The film features inspiring stories and discusses the transformative impact of the Rise Up Cambridge Guaranteed Income pilot program. The program is providing thousands of eligible Cambridge families with monthly cash payments as part of a commitment to end poverty and income inequality.

  • When: This Thursday, September 28 | 5:30-8PM (Screening begins at 6:30PM)
  • Where: American Repertory Theater (64 Brattle Street)
  • Watch the trailer and RSVP today to reserve your seat.
  • Appetizers will be offered before the screening, and there will be a 15-minute panel discussion afterward.

Free Food Markets

Food Markets

All families are welcome to stop by our free, school-based food markets. They offer fresh fruits, vegetables, and pantry items. Please bring your own bags.

Upcoming markets:

  • Wednesday, September 27
    • 2 - 4 PM (Kennedy-Longfellow School)
    • 1:45 - 3:45 PM (Fletcher Maynard Academy)
  • Tuesday, October 10
    • 1:30 - 3:30 PM (Graham & Parks School)
  • Thursday, October 19
    • 3:15 - 5:15 PM (Peabody School & Rindge Ave Upper School)
  • Tuesday, October 31
    • 3 - 4:30 PM (MLK School & Putnam Ave Upper School)
  • See the full list of free food markets for the 2023-2024 school year.

What We Are Celebrating
National Hispanic/Latinx/e Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month

As we shared in a previous issue, National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15-October 15. We are incredibly proud of our wonderfully diverse community, which includes many families of rich Hispanic heritage.

Claudia Baltodano is a CPS parent and CRLS alumni, whose daughter Neritza is a 9th grade student at CRLS. Learn how Claudia and Neritza acknowledge and celebrate their heritage below. Please note that these perspectives are unique and may not be representative of all who celebrate.

Q: Hispanic Heritage Month corresponds with the independence days in many Latin American countries, including Honduras. How did you celebrate September 15th in Honduras?

  • Claudia: In Honduras, there are 3 parades, starting from September 13 to September 15. The first one is for small grades, such as kindergarten and pre-kindergarten. It is a parade where there are palillonas (baton twirlers), pompons (cheerleaders), and children representing each state of the country with traditional costumes and a band. The next parade is for older grades from 1st grade to 6th grade, and the last one is bigger because they are colleges and universities, and they do the same activities.

Q: How do you celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with your family and friends?

  • Claudia: We celebrate together as a family and cook food from our country.
  • Neritza: We celebrate by cooking my country’s food.

Q. What is your favorite Honduran food? Are there any Boston-area restaurants where people can try it?

  • Claudia: My favorite food and the most popular is baleadas, which Is a flour tortilla filled with beans, cheese and then folded. You can add meat and avocado. You can eat Honduran food in Chelsea.

Q. What is your favorite word or phrase in Spanish (perhaps one that doesn't directly translate into English or that is specific to Honduras?)

  • Claudia: We use “Vos”, which is like “ hey guys”.

Q. What do you want our school community to know about your Hispanic heritage?

  • Neritza: I want them to know that I am proud of my country.
Sacred Spaces Available in All Schools

A reminder that any student or staff member who would like to pray during the school day is welcome to use the sacred spaces at each of our schools throughout the school year. The school’s Family Liaisons can help locate the sacred space.

First Grade Hero


Fletcher Maynard Academy first grader, Shayne Haynes-Ross, is a hero! Earlier this month, Shayne rescued a 2-year-old girl, who had fallen into the pool at his family’s apartment building. Recognizing that the little girl could not swim, Shayne quickly swam over, picked her up out of the water, and lifted her up onto the edge of the pool.

Dr. Greer commended Shayne for his bravery at last Tuesday’s School Committee meeting. His mother SheNequa, grandmother Loretta, and sister Shenelle were among the loved ones there beaming with pride. Way to go, Shayne!

Family Liaison’s Passion Project on Display


Congratulations to the Cambridgeport School’s Family Liaison, Kristen Emack, whose photography exhibit is on display at the Cambridge Public Library through October 12th. Cousins is a long-term photographic series documenting the childhood of Ms. Emack’s daughter and nieces in Cambridge. It is viewed as a celebration of Black girlhood.

Last week, Ms. Emack, her daughter, and her nieces took part in a panel discussion about the process, inspiration behind the artwork, and its impact. In addition to Cambridge, Ms. Emack’s work has been exhibited in South Africa, Italy, Belfast, Sweden, Finland, and the United Kingdom. It was also published in Italian Vogue.

Key Resources

Mark Your Calendar

Monday, October 9 | Indigenous Peoples Day (No School & CPS Offices Closed)
Wednesday, October 25 | Early Release (Grades JK-8)
Tuesday, November 7 | Staff Professional Learning Day (No School)
Friday, November 10 | Veterans Day (observed) (No School & CPS Offices Closed)
Wednesday, November 15 | Early Release (Grades JK-8)
Wednesday, November 22 | Early Release (All Grades)
Thursday, November 23-Friday, November 24 | Thanksgiving Break (No School & CPS Offices Closed)

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