Dear Families,

While only four days, this has felt like a much longer week. I am proud of our teachers, staff, students, and families for coming together with compassion and empathy for one another during this difficult time. Today’s community meeting was just another example of how our community shows up for one another.

I encourage you to continue to share with us the supports your child may need as they process bits of information about the ongoing humanitarian crisis. The images of violence are prevalent in the media, and I encourage you to consider monitoring your child’s exposure to and processing of these images. The Child Mind Institute offers a wonderful support in 16 languages on Helping Children Process Trauma. Also New York Family offers a page with dozens of resources for families about talking to children about the current conflict. 

Unrelated to the current international tragedies, I did want to let you know how we use restorative justice practices at CWS when students have peer-to-peer conflicts. Earlier this week during the 3rd-5th grade lunch recess students were playing a well-intentioned game that turned overly physical, and then others not knowing what was happening thought there was a real “fight” happening, which led to other students becoming physical – it is important to note that there was no physicality motivated by any student’s identities (race, gender, ethnicity, religion, etc.). No one was seriously physically injured and teachers stepped in as quickly as possible. The next day, I worked with our guidance counselor Jennifer as well as Noelle to bring nearly 20 of the students into a restorative circle conversation during their lunch. Students reflected on the situation, what they and others could have done differently, and shared with one another how they could work to ensure everyone’s physical safety and emotional well-being while offering their pledges to do better in the future. Instead of punishment and discipline, we took corrective action by facilitating this dialogue, which I see as a chance for students to correct themselves and their peers to learn for the future. Lapses in judgment are age appropriate and instead of shaming students we want them to feel empowered to make better decisions next time. I left this conversation very proud of our students and their reestablished commitment to one another. 

This week we have been notified about additional student cases of Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease. Often a fever and general unwellness is a first symptom, there can also be a skin rash and mouth sores. Please have your child examined by a medical professional if they show any symptoms. Please inform your child’s teacher if they get a positive diagnosis so proper classroom cleaning protocols can be arranged. Your doctor will tell you when your child can return to school, but typically it is when they are feeling better, fever-free without the use of medicine for at least 24 hours, and their sores have healed. 

Thank you for being a part of this community. Together we are stronger. 

With peace and empathy,