Symmes Elementary School


September 25, 2020

Mark your Calendar!

  • September 29 and October 1: MAP testing for Virtual Classroom students (see below for more information)
  • October 27: Picture Day
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Symmes Families,

As we shared with you earlier this week, Principal Anne Van Kirk is taking a leave of absence for non-COVID 19 health reasons. Mrs. Van Kirk is doing well at home and is thankful for all of the support. She wanted to share the following with you:

"I appreciate your thoughts and prayers! My heart is with Symmes and my students. Know that your kids are in good hands and I hope to see you soon."

Parent/Teacher Conferences

ALL conferences will be held virtually, for both Virtual Classroom and Face-to Face students. Parents will receive details regarding the conferences as they get closer. Dates are as follows:

Oct. 15 (Thursday) Evening Conferences (Gr. 9-12)

Nov. 19 (Thursday) Evening Conferences (K-6)

Nov. 20 (Friday) Daytime conferences (No School-K-8 only)

Nov. 23 (Monday) Evening Conferences (K-4 and 7-8)

Dec. 1 (Tuesday) Evening Conferences (Gr. 5-6 only)

March 4 (Thursday) Evening Conferences (Gr. 9-12)

New Sycamore Attendance Line

ALL K-6 parents are asked to call 686-1707 to report a student absence each morning before school begins. The message will prompt parents to do the following:

  • To report an absence that may be related to COVID-19 symptoms, exposure, or diagnosis, please press 1.

  • To report an absence unrelated to COVID-19, all K-6 parents of students in the Virtual Classroom should press 2.

Any K-6 parent of students in the Virtual Classroom reporting an absence after 9:00 should call the Sycamore Learning Commons at 686-1708.

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Love Our Library

Please support the Love Our Library program at Symmes Elementary by allowing your child to donate a new library book in celebration of his/her birthday. With your $15 gift, your child may select a book from our “birthday batch” of books to help build and enrich our library collection. Although we cannot check books out this year we still LOVE books! Your student(s) will be able to personalize a bookplate for their selected book and will get a photo on the wall with the book selection. If your student is in a virtual classroom, I will send you a list of options and then you could send me a picture of your child for the wall. We will include summer and early fall birthdays with our October pictures.

Our Love Our Library program is great way to celebrate and leave a literary legacy in your child’s name.

Thank you for your help in building a better library.

Lisa Gausmann, Symmes Media Center

To participate please donate $15 (cash or check payable to Symmes Elementary School). If Face to Face, you can send it to school with your child in an envelope. If Virtual Classroom, please drop it off at school or mail to Symmes Elementary, 11820 Enyart Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45140.

With your $15.00 gift, please include:

  • Student’s Name

  • Whether your student is Face to Face or Virtual

  • Your student’s teacher

  • Your student’s birthday (month and day)

  • Occasion if other than a birthday

All donations must be received by May 11, 2021.

Happy Birthday and Happy Reading!

Join the PTO!

Who can become a member?

Any parent or guardian of a current Symmes Elementary Student (virtual and face-to-face learners), or any current Symmes Elementary Staff Member. Please fill out one the forms below to become a registered PTO member.

How much does it cost to become a member?

There is no mandatory cost involved in membership.

How can I help?

Due to the circumstances facing the entire District during the 2020-21 school year, the Symmes PTO will not be organizing any formal fundraising activities during the first semester. The PTO will still be working hard to support all of our virtual and face to face students, staff and families. Many teachers have faced additional costs this year, so please consider supporting the PTO if you are able. All four elementary schools are contributing to the virtual teachers as well.

Online membership form
Paper membership form (print and mail)


Thank you.

Symmes Elementary PTO


USDA and ODE passed a new waiver for all schools that participate in School Nutrition Programs. As of today, Sycamore Schools is now able to serve breakfast and lunch to all students for FREE until the waiver expires on December 31st (or until the allotted program funds are no longer available—whichever comes first.)

This does not change anything in the process of receiving breakfast or lunch at school for your Sycamore student other than that if a student makes a reimbursable school meal they will not be charged. A student has to take 3 components and one HAS to be ½ cup of fruit or vegetable for their meal to be considered reimbursable. Click on the links below for more information by learning model:

Virtual Learning- Free Meal Information

Face-to-Face- Free Meal Information

Change in Pre-Ordering Meals

The Child Nutrition Department has made a change to the pre-ordering deadline for Elementary students. Families now only need to order by Noon the day before, rather than a week at a time. This is to better serve our parents and students.

Please note: You can order up to 2 weeks in advance. If choosing to do this, please understand that if you ordered a meal for your student and they are present at school they need to take the meal that was ordered.

Thank you for being patient with this new program and way of providing meals to students in the safest way possible. The Child Nutrition Department is doing everything possible to fix any issues that are found in a timely manner.

Continue to send questions and concerns to or by calling the office at (513) 686-1796.

Warrior Run

Sycamore High School’s speak up AVES student group invites you to join our team for the annual 1N5 Warrior Run. This year’s event is a virtual “choose your own path” event that encourages participants to complete a 5K - YOUR WAY! The challenge runs from September 26 through October 10. Registration proceeds support the work of 1N5, our community partner, committed to mental health education across the state, city and our district. Sponsorship funds raised come directly back to Sycamore Schools to support mental health programming. Additionally, if Sycamore High School can win the high school challenge, they earn additional funds and opportunities to support mental health at Sycamore High School, and most of all, bragging rights! Visit our team page for more information and register or donate today!

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Pick up Reminders

If you pick up your student(s) at the end of the day, PLEASE REMEMBER:

  • To flip your hang tag to the white side once you have loaded your car completely.
  • Your student(s) should enter your car from whichever side is next to the center aisle that they walk down.

Thank you!

School Breakfast

If you order school breakfast for your student, please make sure that your child's teacher and your child are aware that you expect them to eat breakfast in the morning. Please only order breakfast or lunch if you intend for your child to eat cafeteria provided breakfast and/or lunch.

Celebration snacks

This year, we will be implementing a building-wide policy regarding birthday celebrations. Due to COVID-19, we CANNOT allow ANY treats/items to be brought in at this time.

If unauthorized treats or trinkets are sent in, unfortunately we will have to send them back home unopened. We have determined this to be necessary for the safety of all our students.

We enjoy many Symmes traditions that go along with acknowledging birthdays or half birthdays (if students have a summer birthday). We announce the birthday child’s name on the morning announcements along with their favorite dessert, classes sing the “Happy Birthday” song, and students receive a special birthday sticker to wear for the day.

Please know that we are not trying to take the fun out of birthdays. Classroom teachers will continue to recognize children on their special day in special ways. We trust that you understand how deeply important it is to respect and adhere to these guidelines. The safety of all our students is our utmost priority and we appreciate your cooperation and understanding.

Thank you for your continued partnership!

Do you walk your student home from school?

If you are walking your student(s) home after school, please go to door #13 (by the cafeteria, share your family dismissal number, and let the adult know that you are here for your student. We will dismiss your student(s) to that door.

Please note that this option is ONLY AVAILABLE to families who are walking home from school. Students are not allowed to walk home without a parent or guardian

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MAP testing for Virtual Classroom Students- next week

Virtual students in grades 1-6 will be taking MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) testing next week. This assessment measures each student in both Reading and Math.

  • Virtual Reading MAP tests for grades 1-8 will be on Tuesday, September 29.

  • Virtual Math MAP tests for grade 1-8 will be on Thursday, October 1.

  • Virtual MAP Makeups 1-8 will be on Friday, October 2 with a morning session for Reading and an afternoon session for Math.

Virtual students will need to take this assessment on their district issued Chromebook. Teachers will be sharing information directly with their students about the schedule for the day including how to begin the testing. It is imperative that each student - especially your youngest students - have a Learning Partner with them at the start of testing to help them access the testing and begin the assessment. Similarly, once the assessment is started, it is imperative that students complete this assessment completely on their own without any assistance from their Learning Partner or anyone else.

MAP testing provides very useful information which will help us to better understand each student’s current level of understanding and will be a data point in considering their next steps instructionally.

Virtual students who registered to and take the MAP assessment in person on Saturday September 26 will not need to take the assessment(s) a second time - meaning that if they took the Math MAP in person on Saturday, they would not need to take the Math MAP again remotely on Thursday.

Virtual Picnic

Mrs. Ralston misses seeing our virtual classroom students around the school. We problem solved this by working with Mrs. Teszlewicz to set up "Principal Picnics" so we can visit with our virtual classroom students each month!

Starting in October, your child will have the option to join a "Google Meet" to hang out with Mrs. Ralston....and other guests! Lunches will be held on the following schedule:

Kdg - 1st Thursday of every month

1st Grade - 1st Tuesday of every month

2nd Grade - 2nd Tuesday of every month

3rd Grade - 3rd Tuesday of every month

4th Grade - 4th Tuesday of every month

*Links to the meetings will be shared by your classroom teachers. Please only have your child attend their grade level meet so we can more easily manage our numbers.

This is optional for students, and is an additional time for us to stay connected.

We know that there will be some months that we will not be able to get together, but we look forward to seeing you all as often as possible!

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Virtual Learning Partners

Many thanks to our families who have provided us with feedback over the past two weeks. We have heard you and are working towards an even better experience for our learners each and every day. We truly appreciate our partnership with our parents and our virtual Learning Partners!!

One frequent point of feedback has been that technology challenges appear more problematic during whole class sessions, either over Google Meet or Blackboard Collaborate. The promising news is two-fold; 1.) the new devices recently provided to our K-2 learners are helping with connectivity and 2.) all K-6 teachers are now making the natural shift from large group community building into the use of more small groups in their instruction, typical of best practice at this point of the school year in an elementary classroom. While there certainly will be opportunities for whole class meetings and sessions, the evolution towards more targeted small group learning should reduce the number of technology challenges that some virtual families have experienced. This shift will also result in less consecutive and focused screen time, including some natural breaks for our youngest students as they move between different learning experiences provided by their teacher.

Learning Partners will begin to notice more utilization of student-centered, small group instruction/activities on a regular basis. In practice, students will be grouped by the teacher to participate in differentiated activities and learning experiences designed to provide targeted instruction to meet their needs. In the face to face classroom, this often entails centers, stations, or small group activities around the classroom as well as individual meetings with the teacher. In the virtual classroom, this may include breakout room activities, individual sessions with the teacher, or other virtual grouping techniques.

Learning Partners will play a pivotal role in helping our younger students navigate the various learning activities being developed for small group instruction and will be key to helping them manage their time. This might include helping the student navigate to and from online and offline work throughout the day, completing assignments, or joining the teacher online at a specific time. The following chart provides some additional guidance using our 4 Be’s

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Our elementary teachers are highly trained in student-centered instruction, as this is a key element of their craft. With ongoing professional development and on-site support from our instructional technology specialists, our teachers will continue to translate key learning practices into virtual learning opportunities. With your continued partnership in this endeavor, we will continue to work toward creating a high quality, engaging virtual learning experience for our youngest students.

As always, please let us know if you have any additional questions or concerns.

Molly Teszlewicz

Virtual Classroom Administrator

Virtual Meals

Thank you to everyone who ordered and picked up meals for the virtual curbside pickup service this past week. We served 368 students for a total of 3680 meals! Also, thank you for patiently waiting in the line at the high school, as we know the line was very long.

To avoid such long lines and traffic concerns we have decided to make each Sycamore School a pick up location EFFECTIVE WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30TH. Please see location and times below:

Blue Ash- 10:00-11:00 am at the front entrance of the school

Maple Dale- 1:30- 2:30 pm at the front entrance of the school

Montgomery- 10:00-11:00 am at the front entrance of the school

Symmes- 10:00-11:00 am at the front entrance of the school

EH Greene Intermediate- 9:30-10:30 am at cafeteria doors

Junior High- 10:00-11:00 am in the back parking lot

High School- 11:00-12:00 am at the athletic entrance doors (has not changed)

We ask that you pick up at your student’s assigned school location. IF you have multiple students that attend different buildings, meals for all of your children will be available for pick up at the OLDEST child’s school. You do not need to visit multiple schools.

If you have not already signed up and would like to do so, please sign up here. You can also find all the virtual meal information you should need by clicking here.

Free and Reduced Forms for Virtual Families and P-EBT

All families that qualify for free and reduced-price meals or feel like they might qualify this year need to fill out their application ASAP. Ohio Department of Education in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services is running another round of Pandemic-EBT cards, but ONLY for families who have children learning virtually 5 days a week.

The P-EBT program provides families eligible for free or reduced-price meals with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as food stamps, in the amount of $5.86 (the federal reimbursement rate for breakfast and lunch) for each day a school has remote learning provided for the month of September. All children eligible for free and reduced-price meals are eligible for these benefits, including children who were approved through Direct Certification and children approved based on a free or reduced-price student meal application, as long as the student has remote learning periods lasting at least five consecutive days.

IF you want to be included on this list that will be sent to ODJFS early next week, you need to have your free and reduced applications for the 2020-21 school year turned in by 8:00 am on Monday morning either online OR o the Child Nutrition Office - 5959 Hagewa Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45242. We encourage whoever is able to do their application online to do so by visiting Online applications will have an automatic response. Find more information on filling out a free and reduced meal form by visiting


We know that Virtual Classroom students will experience technology issues. If you have a problem, contact Sycamore Schools Technology Support at or call 686-1793. The technology phone number is dedicated to supporting Virtual teachers and families.

Pictures of your Virtual Classroom!

We would love to highlight "classrooms" of our virtual classroom families. Please snap a picture and send it to and we will share some pictures on our Facebook page and/or in the newsletter.

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