September 2, 2022
We’re almost there, and our teachers and staff continue to work incredibly hard to prepare their classrooms and the school for the first day. Case in point: Teachers didn’t have to come to school Friday or today but this place has been buzzing the whole time. We’re ready!
Please know that if you have any questions heading into the first day of school, or you/your child accidentally forgets about or wasn’t aware of some school-related detail, we will work it all out as we always do – no worries!
WHAT TO EXPECT ON THE FIRST DAY
You can certainly expect plenty of smiles and helping hands on the first day. Everyone will be reuniting after the summer and getting to know their new teachers, classmates, and classrooms. Children will get their laptops, middle schoolers will get their new lockers (along with time to practice opening them) and schedules, everyone will review procedures and expectations for the new year around conduct, technology, and responsibility, and we’ll generally work out the logistical kinks getting the school humming again.
COVID PROTOCOLS UPDATE
Here is a summary of our COVID protocols as we head into the start of the year, which all follow the most current official guidance. We are committed to continuing to enjoy all our major gatherings and events at the school. At the same time, we are 100% maintaining all our school-wide cleaning protocols and air purification systems.
· Masks are optional, and we create a supportive environment regardless of your choice.
· There are no social distancing restrictions anywhere in the school. That includes classrooms and meeting areas, hallways, or multi-purpose spaces such as the auditorium, cafeteria, or gym. This also includes evening events or other school gatherings.
· If there is a COVID case connected to your child’s class, we will notify the grade level that a person tested positive in a particular section and share the date of last contact. If last date of contact was more than 2 days from the onset of symptoms, you will not be notified of the case.
· People who are contacts do NOT need to quarantine. If you don’t have COVID and are otherwise healthy, you can come to school. Children who have a family member with COVID can also continue coming to school unless they develop symptoms themselves.
· People with COVID can return to school after 5 days, provided they have been fever-free without medication for 24 hours (just like any other sickness). However, they MUST wear a mask for the next 5 days (through Day 10).
· If a child has a documented COVID case, or another officially documented illness, injury, or condition that requires remaining home for an extended period of time, then the child may have access to learning remotely during that time. These will be determined on a case-by-case basis with administration.
· Children who are informally kept home sick will NOT have access to remote learning.
· In general, if we receive notice prior to 3:15pm of a situation that qualifies for remote learning, your child can begin remote learning the next day. If we are notified later than that, then your child may begin the day after next (example: a late Monday notification would be a Wednesday remote start). With a weekend notification, you should expect a Tuesday start. That said, our teachers always do what they can to accommodate, but thank you for understanding that remote learning access sometimes has to wait.
· There is no “test to stay” program and we will no longer be conducting periodic district-wide testing.
· We will always have test kits at the school to send home to anyone in need – no worries.
The bus routes for PK-8 students have now been posted to the website and will be updated as needed. Here is a link to the Transportation page: https://www.pocanticohills.org/domain/71
At the top are the AM and PM stops for each bus (look for your address), and at the bottom of the page are instructions for accessing our transportation app, Ride 360.
NOTE: Bus Schedules for the JPK program have NOT been posted yet – Transportation for JPK will begin September 12.
VISITORS AND CAMPUS SAFETY
Keeping our school secure and your children safe is our top priority – and the degree to which we’ve invested in our campus safety speaks for itself. Visitors are welcome in the school provided their visit is for official business and they have an appointment with a specific person or for a specific purpose, the visit has been approved in advance by an administrator, and they are healthy. Visitors must only enter through the front lobby of the school, be checked in by security, and have their appointment confirmed before being allowed access to the school. All visitors must also wear a tag identifying them which our security guard will provide. Visitors may not “wander” unaccompanied through the halls outside of the scope of their visit. We all have a right and an obligation to immediately question anyone who is unfamiliar, is in an unusual location, is making an unusual request, or is insufficiently identified in our school. We greatly appreciate your understanding and support as we keep everyone safe. “Safety with a smile!”
ARRIVAL & DISMISSAL PROCEDURES
If you’re new to Pocantico this year, please know that we try to make arrival and dismissal procedures as stress-free and friendly as possible, and when we all do our part, it’s smooth and easy – it's Poco!
Gate 2 – the car circle – will be open from 7:30 – 8:25am for all grades. Students who arrive prior to 8:10 will go to the cafeteria until they are allowed in their classrooms. Buses are unloaded at 8:10, at which point all students report to their classes. All PK-8 students are expected in school by 8:25, otherwise they are late.
Gate 1 is used for buses in the morning, as well as families of Junior Pre-K students only. Buses arrive between 8:00 and 8:10. Kids getting breakfast are allowed off the bus as soon as the bus arrives. Then, at 8:10, I temporarily close the circle and unload the buses for everyone. Our kids and staff are pros at this, so we are usually done by 8:14, at which point the buses leave and I reopen the circle for the continuation of JPK drop-off.
Early Pickup and late drop-off during the school day occurs through Gate 3 (the front of the school) and happens in the lobby only. Parents do NOT accompany their children down to the classroom, nor do they go to get them from classrooms. If there is a specific need in the nurse’s office, then exceptions will be made if cleared by the nurse and administration. We do have construction still happening in front, but you can still park in front and come in.
The School Day
There are nine 40-minute periods in our school day, with first period starting at 8:30 sharp and ninth period ending at 2:54pm. Our schedule runs on a 6-day cycle that wraps around holidays. These Day Codes are on our school calendar as well.
Dismissal announcements begin at 2:55 and I try to roll out the buses with everyone accounted for by 3:04 – we don’t mess around! This goes for cars pickups too - please be on time if not a little early!
PK-4 Car Dismissal
Elementary car dismissal occurs in Gate 2, supervised by Ms. DePaola. Please be there by 2:50 so you are ready when we start sending children to the circle. We close that gate by 3:05.
5-8 Car Dismissal
Middle school cars line up outside the Gate 1 bus circle and wait for me to send the buses out at 3:04. Then we wave in the cars as the kids file out of the school by the gym. We’re done in the bus circle before the clock hits 3:10. Please try to be here before 3:00.
We also have a 4:00 bus for those staying after school, as well as a 5:15 sports bus specifically for our modified sports teams (volleyball and soccer in the fall).
Dismissal Rules – No Exceptions
We will NOT dismiss a child to any situation or person other than who/what we have on file unless we have a written note from you. Notes/emails should be sent to Deb Kaplan and Ryan Beckley, AND the teacher. The teacher needs to know what to do, and my office compiles all the notes each day and distributes the approved situations to the dismissal supervisors and bus drivers. If it’s not on the list, it’s not happening. These changes must be made in advance – it’s simply not fair to expect us to sort it out at the last minute when we’re trying to dismiss the school on time – thank you! Children MUST ride on their assigned bus at 3:00 and cannot switch buses for playdates or any other reasons. The best solution for this would be to pick kids up by car.
LUNCH ORDERING & OPTIONAL PARENTAL RESTRICTIONS
Teachers take lunch orders in their classrooms every morning and lunches are paid for in the cafeteria. If your child will be buying food this year, I suggest you set up and electronically fund a MySchoolBucks account – see below for the link.
Sometimes parents are surprised by what their child is buying in the cafeteria. You can avoid some of this by placing restrictions on your child’s account. To do so, complete this form for each of your children by September 30th: Purchasing Restriction Form
IMPORTANT REMINDER: $$ SCHOOL BREAKFAST AND LUNCH $$
Reminder: School Meal Programs across the country are returning to normal (pre-pandemic) procedures for the 2022-2023 school year. This means breakfast and lunch meals are no longer free to all students unless you qualify for financial assistance. However, our meal prices (Breakfast $1.50 and Lunch $3.00) will be at the same rate this school year as they were prior to the pandemic (2019-20 school year).
On the Cafeteria page (https://www.pocanticohills.org/domain/63) is a link showing how to create and fund a MySchoolBucks meal account (which you can then access to see current balances and purchasing history). You can always pay cash but sometimes funding an account is more convenient in the long run.
UPDATE: We are currently experiencing an issue with NEW families registering and have reached out to their technical department to resolve it. In the meantime, your children can still buy lunch or snack and we’ll simply keep track without issue – no worries, no child will be turned away!
Free and Reduced Priced Meal Applications
There are still options available for free and reduced meals. Parents and Guardians should go to the Pocantico Hills website’s Cafeteria page (located under “School”) and linked here - https://www.pocanticohills.org/domain/63. There you’ll find more information on the Bulletin Board about eligibility and for application access.
SWIM IN GYM REMINDER – STARTS THURSDAY
Yes, Swim In Gym is back for the start of school! Beginning on Thursday, September 8 (DAY 3) and running through Friday, September 23 (DAY 2), students in K-8 will be able to receive swimming lessons during their regularly scheduled gym classes. Weather permitting, every class will have six sessions. Historically, September has been dicey, so we anticipate some cancellations, but it’s going to be great either way. Teachers will be in contact about their gym schedules and we’ll send details next week about what kids should bring to school when it’s their day.
AFTERCARE STARTS DAY 1
If you have enrolled your PK-4 child in our Aftercare Program, it will begin on the first day of school. If you’re interested in possibly enrolling (it is fee-based), here is a link to learn more: https://www.pocanticohills.org/domain/21
ACTIVITIES & CLUBS AFTER SCHOOL
Once again, we’ll be offering a variety of after-school clubs, resources, and intramural activities for elementary and middle school students throughout the year – more so than ever, in fact. Once details are finalized, we’ll share the different descriptions and sign-up links if applicable. Don’t worry, you won’t miss out.
Homework Help, Grades 5-8
Beginning the second week of school, there will be homework help and tutoring for grades 5-8 in the library from 3:00-4:00 every day. It is open-door with no sign-up so please make sure you’re on the same page as your child about staying or dismissing. Children can be picked up in the bus circle or take a bus home at 4:00.
Homework Help, Grade 4
Also beginning the second week, 4th graders may stay from 3:00-4:00 to work on homework, especially math, with a teacher on the team. If you have a 4th grader, just know that the teachers will be sending home a sign-up form – there is nothing for you to do now, I’m just giving you a heads-up.
Much More to Come!
Please make sure you log into the Parent Portal and update your household information – emergency contacts, emails, and phone numbers. We rely on this info being up-to-date and accurate, so thank you!
EVENTS ON THE HORIZON
Watch for details in the coming days/weeks around:
7th and 8th Grade Retreat – 9/16
PTA Back to School Party – 9/16
Picture Day – 9/20
Middle School Open House 9/21
Elementary School Open House 9/28
Hopefully, those are enough details to get us up and running. I hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend – Bring on Opening Day!
LOOKING AHEAD . . .
- Labor Day - District Closed
- First Day of School for Students
9/7/22 - 9/30/22
- PTA Back to School Clothing & Supplies Fundraiser Begins
- Board of Education Meeting - 7:30 PM
- 7th and 8th Grade Retreat
- PTA Back to School Party/Welcome to New Families
- Picture Day
- Middle School Back to School Night & Open House
9/26/22 - 9/27/22
- Rosh Hashanah - School Closed
- Elementary Back to School Night & Open House
Edit and verify your email addresses and telephone numbers in the Parent Portal. Click the button above to log into the Portal. If you need assistance, please contact Norma DeSousa at email@example.com
SEE ATTACHMENTS FOR DOWNLOAD AND PRINTING SECTION BELOW FOR ADDITIONAL YUBBLER SUPPLY INFORMATION
2022-2023 PTA MEMBERSHIP
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