First Day of School Helpful Tidbits

Monday, August 23rd 8:45-12:15

Letter from Mrs. McClure

Hello Alward Families,

This is not the most ideal way to start our "First Day of School Tidbits Newsletter," but it is important to let all parents know that we will have a mask mandate starting Monday, August 23rd at school. I definitely understand our family's frustrations as the timing of the mandate is not ideal and does not provide a lot of time for schools or families to prepare for the first day of school on Monday with this big change. Over the past few months, I have had countless conversations with parents on both sides of wearing masks, and it is definitely very divisive. But in the end, we all want the same thing for our children, for them to be safe and loved while going to school.

Currently, our schools are in a tough position as we must follow the current mandate. These are decisions that we did not make and must follow. Right now, you can contact your doctor about a medical waiver, as that is the only way we are allowed to have children in school unmasked at this time. The medical waiver must be signed by an MD/DO and include his/her licensure number. If a child comes into school without a mask and doesn't put one on, we will have to have the child get picked up. I know that this is not the answer that you probably want to hear, and I'm truly sorry. Once again, we are in a tough position navigating COVID protocols and mandates.

This is definitely a difficult way for us to start the year, but our staff will be here Monday ready to love on our students and welcome them back for a great year! We will adjust to the new protocols/mandates and continue to provide our students with the best education we possibly can deliver. We feel so fortunate that we were able to meet our families this past week in-person and see our students' smiling faces.

As we start this year, I just ask you to remember that your child's teacher (and the district) did not put this mandate into place, but must follow the mandate. Please treat our staff with courtesy and respect as we look forward to making Monday special for our students. Your children are "our why" for going into education, and they will continue to be "our why" as we navigate COVID protocols again this school year. Thank you again for your support, encouragement, and understanding! We truly are looking forward to Monday and to having an amazing year with your child at Alward.

Much love,


First Two Weeks of School Calendar

First Two Weeks of School Important Dates
  • Monday, August 23rd: First day of school Early Release at 12:15 p.m.
  • Tuesday, August 24th: Early Release at 12:15 p.m.
  • Wednesday, August 25th: Early Release at 12:15 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 26th: Early Release at 12:15 p.m.
  • Friday, August 27th: No School!
  • Monday, August 30th-Thursday, September 2nd: Full days of School 8:45-3:45
  • Friday, September 3rd: No School!
  • Monday, September 6th: No School!

Please check the HPS Student Calendar for early release dates and breaks for the 21-22 school year!

Mask Information

  • Here is a link to the latest COVID-19 information and how it impacts HPS schools.
  • Here is a link to the medical mask exemption form that must be signed by an MD/OD and include his/her licensure number.
  • Students will be required to wear masks in the school and on the school bus.
  • Mask breaks will be given where students are spaced out 6 feet and can safely take their masks off at scheduled times throughout the school day.
  • Students are not required to wear masks outside. Therefore, we will have mask breaks outside as well.
  • Please send your child with multiple masks. If you child forgets his/her mask, we will provide your child with a mask at school.
  • Please review frequently asked questions here.

Helpful Tips

  • Please have your child wear a name tag for the first day of school that has his/her first and last name along with his/her teacher's name. This will help us get your child to the correct classroom.
  • Please label your child's backpack. PK/KDG students, please attach the bus tag to your child's backpack that you received at Open House. If were unable to attend Open House, you will receive a bus tag on the first day of school.
  • Please put sunscreen on your child before they come to school on these warm, sunny days coming up.
  • Please send your child with extra masks in his/her backpack to use throughout the day.


  • Car Riders/Walkers

    • We will have a staggered arrival for the FIRST WEEK of school. Please see below for student drop-off procedures. We will communicate with families when we will transition back to normal drop off times. Students will not be counted tardy to school during the first couple of weeks if they are not dropped off by 9 a.m.

    • All students will enter the building upon arrival and head straight to their classrooms.

    • KDG students will enter Door A.

    • Pre-K and 1st grade students will enter Door W.

    • 2nd-5th grade students will enter Door U.

    • Older siblings can walk younger siblings to their classes. In this case, please remind your oldest child to enter the door assigned to your youngest child to cut down on traffic.

    • Please do not drop your students off before 8:35 a.m. for safety and security reasons. We do not have supervision available before 8:35 a.m.

  • Bus riders

    • When buses arrive at Alward, a para will get students off of the bus and walk them into the building and take them straight to their classrooms.


Student drop-off and pick-up are very busy times during a normal school year in the school driveway and hallways. This year adds a new layer, so please make sure to read all of these drop off procedures so that we can ensure the safety of our students and staff and efficiency of our car line. Due to the number of students that we have in the building, parents will not be permitted into the building to walk their children to their classrooms. Therefore, if you are dropping your child off in the carline, please remain in your vehicle and follow the procedures below.

Staggered Drop-off: We will have a staggered drop off due to the expected increase in car riders this year. We will have numerous staff helping students get into the building safely and to their classrooms.

  • Grades 2-5: Please drop your child off between 8:35-8:45 a.m. Please do not come early as we will not be able to allow students into the building until 8:35 a.m. If you have children in grades PK-1, you can drop off all children during this time slot. We will have your oldest child help walk your younger child/ren to their assigned classes. Students in grades 2-5 will enter Door U unless they are walking a younger sibling to their class.
  • Grades PK-1: Please drop your child off between 8:45-9:00 a.m. Students in KDG will enter door A. Students in PK and 1st grade will enter door W.

Car Line Drop-off Procedures:

1. Please place the placard sign, received at Open House, in your passenger side window of your car with your child/ren's names and teacher's name listed. Please put a name tag on your child along with his/her classroom teacher's name to help us get students to their correct classroom.

2. Use the car loop on the west side (office side) of the building.

3. Stay in the right lane and drop off your child in the drop-off zone. Zone will be marked with cones. Please pull all the way to either the stop sign for the unloading zone or to the car in front of you.

3. Students will exit the cars on the passenger side of the car in the unloading zone. (Do not allow students to exit the car on the driver’s side for safety reasons!) Staff will help child/children get out of the car and direct them to the door that they will go in.

4. Parents remain in their vehicles.

5. Do not pass cars in the car line. Stay in a single file line until the cars move in front of you.

To Keep Our Line Moving Tips:

  1. Follow the procedures noted above.

  2. Say your goodbyes and give kisses prior to dropping off in the car line. :)

  3. Have backpacks/supplies ready to exit car with students.

  4. Parents need to remain in their vehicles.

  5. Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding with our system and procedures. Safety is our number one concern for our students and their families.

Car Line Pick-up Procedures

PK-Fifth Grade Students

3:45 p.m.

1. Please put the placard sign, pictured below, in your passenger side window of your car with your child/ren's names and teacher's names listed. If you need more placard signs, please contact the main office, and we will be happy to print some for you!

2. Use the car loop on the west-side (office side) of the building.

3. Stay in the right lane and pull up to the orange cone on the far side of the parking lot or behind the cars in front of you.

4. Students will be walked out in groups to the car line and must enter cars on the passenger side of the vehicle.

5. If you need to help your child buckle his/her car seat, please pull forward with the flow of traffic, park in a parking spot, and help your child buckle his/her car seat.

To Keep Our Line Moving Tips:

  1. Follow the procedures noted above.

  2. Parents need to remain in their vehicles.

  3. Please be patient with this system for the first few weeks of school. Once students, staff, and families get used to the process, the line moves efficiently and is safe for all of our students!

  4. Based on last year’s car line data, the car line takes 4-5 minutes to load 60 cars!


  • Walkers are dismissed once our car line is out of our parking lot to ensure their safety in the parking lot and crossing Port Sheldon, if needed.
  • Walkers will be dismissed out of Door T (at the end of our fourth and fifth grade hallway).
  • If you or a sibling will be typically walking your child home, please notify your child's teacher.
  • If the person designated to walk your child home changes, please contact the main office to let them know of the change.

PK/KDG Parents at Drop-off on the First Day of School

If you would like to walk your students up to the door, please park in the parking lot and cross over to the main entrance at the cross walk area. Due to the numbers of students in the building and the visitor policy, you will have to say your goodbyes at the door as we will not be allowing parents to walk their students to their classrooms. We will have staff that will help your child get to his/her classroom.

PK students enter door W.

KDG students enter door A.

Bus Information

  • Transportation (bus) information was sent out to families last week. If there was an error, please contact transportation with any questions (669-7757).

  • Bus information is available in Power School!

Transportation Home

Change in Transportation Home At the End of the School Day or For an Early Release

Since next week will be Early Release days, please contact the main office to let them know if there will be a change in transportation for your child going home that differs from the google doc for a normal dismissal.


  • Breakfast will be served for the first week from 8:45-9:00 a.m. due to the staggered start times for PK-5th grade.

  • Please email classroom teachers to let them know if your child will be eating breakfast at school on a normal basis so they can send them down to the cafeteria.

Lunch Details on an Early Release

Lunch will not be served on Early Release days. However, you can order your child a sack lunch for him/her to take home. If you would like to order your child a sack lunch, please email your child's classroom teacher prior to 9 am or have your child communicate this if one is needed.

Lunch Information

Hot Lunch

Hot Lunch is FREE for all students again this year. If your student chooses to take milk only, you will need to pay for that. Milk is .50. Menu's, Free and Reduced Information, Nutrition information and lunch account info can all be found on the Jenison/Hudsonville Food Service Home page. You received your students ID# with your students' teacher. You will need this ID# to set up an account with food service for making online deposits. Please call the office at 616-669-6700 if you have any questions.

PK students will be eating lunch in the cafeteria, while our K-5th grade students will be eating lunch in the classrooms again this year. Students will travel down to the cafeteria to get hot lunch or milk, if they ordered it, and then go back into the classroom to eat. Teachers will be with the students while they are eating their lunches. We will have noon hour aides that will be assisting students getting their lunches and helping sanitize the classrooms after lunch is done.

Medications at School

In order for your child to take any medication (prescription and non-prescription) at school, a MEDICATION FORM is required. If your child requires a prescription medication (asthma inhaler, EPI pen, insulin), your physician must complete a portion of the form. The medication forms are available in the school office and will be posted to our website.

Please do not send medications to school with your child. Please come into the office to drop off medications. Thank you!

Visitor Policy

Any volunteer or visitor who will be in the building for more than 15 minutes or in a classroom will need to complete a health screener and have their temperature taken. Any volunteer in an elementary classroom, no matter if they are vaccinated or unvaccinated, will be required to wear a mask while working in the classroom or while indoors at HPS elementary schools.

Food Allergy Information

Peanut and Nut Free Classrooms

The following classrooms are peanut and nut free for the 21/22 school year. Attached you will find an approved list of peanut and nut free items that you can send in for your child's snacks and lunch items.

  • Mrs. LePard-KDG
  • Mrs. Phon - KDG
  • Mrs. DeCarlo-First Grade
  • Mrs. Pingel - First Grade
  • Mr. Oosting - Third Grade
  • Mr. Karel - Fifth Grade

For more information about our peanut and nut free classrooms, please see the letter linked below and the approved peanut and nut free snacks letter.

Thank you for your support as we work to be proactive in protecting and keeping our students safe!

Forgotten Items

To help limit the numbers of visitors into the front office due to social distancing requirements and available space, we will have a table set up in our front vestibule for "forgotten" items. Place the item/s into a basket, fill out a slip of paper with your child's name and grade, and leave the basket on the table. Our office staff will make sure that students get their items as quickly as possible.

Student Profile Updates

Please make sure that you have updated your child's student profile. This will ensure that we have accurate addresses, parent contact and emergency contact information. Thank you!


  • Visit Our Website: Our school website will be updated on a regular basis as it will be the main source of information for our parents and community members. We will no longer have an Alward Blog as we are looking to consolidate and simplify communication to our families. Teacher websites are linked on the Alward website.
  • School Messenger: Regular communication from school messenger will be sent out via email, phone calls, or text messages to keep you in the loop on what is taking place at Alward!

  • Social Media: Follow our story by liking us on...

    • Facebook: Like us on

    • Twitter: Like us on Twitter @AlwardElem

  • Google Classrooms: Teachers will be updating their Google Classroom Sites on a weekly basis.