Bertha Buzz

Community Newsletters

Issue #2: September 21, 2020

Hello Bertha Neal Families!

I have to say we have gotten off to an awesome start to this school year. It has been amazing to see students back in connection with their teachers and forming those PK-12 relationships. We know there is a lot of newness surrounding us, whether it is the in-person changes/adjustments we have had to make this school year or the virtual platform your child and their teacher are working on together. We greatly appreciate your continued kindness and patience while we work through these new times. Given that this is so new to all of us here at Bertha Neal and in Durand, I would like to ask that we all remember that teachers are teaching during the day. For our virtual families and their students, the teachers are providing information on their platform for you and your child. Please carefully read the information to answer any questions you may have. In the event you are having a difficulty or need questions answered, teachers will respond to you in a timely manner. This year has been and will be an exciting one and the continued partnership between the school and home are crucial to our students'/your child's success.

Thank you for all you do to continually support us!

Issue #1: September 6, 2020

Welcome Back Bertha Neal Families!

How exciting it is to welcome back all of our students for the 2020-2021 school year! Your continued patience, flexibility, and understanding have been deeply appreciated as we continue to navigate through these very different times. Of course, there are many changes since we were last in school, and we understand that some of the changes are not ideal. However, safety for all will remain at the forefront while we continue to emphasize our relationship building with you and your child. Things may look different, but we are still eager to provide a positive and wonderful school experience for your child. Please keep reading to understand some of the changes and expectations for the start of the school year. Here’s to a wonderful school year!

  • First Day of school (K-1 and ECSE) is Tuesday, Sep. 8th and is a full day of school. BN full day times are 8:30-2:00pm.
  • Preschool begins Sep. 14th and will run Monday-Thursday. Full day is 8:30-2:00 with 3’s 8:30-10:30 and part day 4’s 11:00-2:00.
  • Students can enter the building at 8:15 and will go directly to their classroom.
  • Students will also be out of the building no later than 2:05 daily (11:15 on half days).
  • Breakfast will be served at the entry point of the building. Students will receive their breakfast on the way to their classroom.
  • Students will be eating lunch in their classrooms with their teacher.
  • Breakfast and lunch will be free for ALL students through December.
  • All students and staff (K-1) are required to wear masks/face coverings at all times. Eating and drinking along with some mask breaks will be the exception for students.
  • PK students are strongly encouraged to wear masks/face coverings in the classroom, but will be required to wear them in the hallway and on the bus.
  • Please send a bottle of water to school with your child as drinking fountain will be closed until further notice.
  • Following our School Roadmap Guidelines, Bertha Neal will be closed to all visitors.
  • More information will follow for pickup and drop-off procedures this year. See below.
  • Device agreements must be turned in for a child to receive their device. If one is turned in, they will receive a device on Tuesday. Please coordinate with your child’s teacher.
  • Our daily schedule for the 2020-2021 school year is 8:30am-2:00pm for our full day schedule and 8:30-11:10 for our half day schedule.

I really hope this information is helpful to you, your family, and your child. We know the challenges that 2020 has brought, and we are all in this together. At any point, please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss questions or things on your mind for this school year.

Warm Regards,

Mr. Robert Cawson
Bertha Neal Principal/Preschool Director


Little Railroader Mornings with Mr. C!

Every day, I will have the morning announcements posted on my Google Classroom and shared with your child's teacher. This will serve as our traditional announcements for all in person and online families. They will include birthdays, important updates, and other events. Check with your child's teacher about accessing these or have your child join the Google Classroom using this link.

Online Students

  • Daily lessons from our teachers for K-1 will be posted in Google Classroom by 8:30am.
  • Students may work at a time that is convenient for them and your family throughout the day.
  • Students are not required to be online during their traditional class time or necessarily during school hours if it is not convenient for your family.
  • Students, teachers, and families will work together to document two 2-way mentor communications per week. This communication will serve as attendance for our online students under the guidance we received from the state. This communication can be email, phone calls, Google Meet sessions, and other means of having individualized conversations regarding your child's academic progress.
  • Students can return to in-person learning if expressed in writing at the beginning of the next marking period. Students can go to virtual learning at anytime, but that also must be expressed in writing for attendance purposes.
  • All registered online students have been invited to pick up their device at the Administration Building. If your child does not have a device yet, please call us at the main office.
  • The remote platform for preschool will be communicated ASAP through your child's teacher.

Arrival and Dismissal

As we prepare to embark on this adventure through the 2020-2021 school year, safety will remain the top priority for us all. Given the circumstances this pandemic has brought, we have had to shift many of our procedures and traditions to continue to emphasize safety for all. This includes our pickup and drop off procedures. As we prepare for the first day of school on Tuesday, September 8, we will be launching a new routine for pickup and drop off procedures. We will be launching the use of our brand new student drop off and loading zone in the East lot next to Bertha Neal. We ask that you review these new procedures. We look forward to welcoming you and our students back!

This video will also help you get familiar with these new procedures.

What’s the Loading/Unloading Zone?

For the safety of our children, it is extremely important that we all become familiar with the proper procedures for dropping off children in the morning prior to the start of the school day. We cannot afford for our children to be harmed because expectations for drop off and pickup are not followed. It’s going to take the commitment of all of us: parents, families, administrators, teachers, and children to ensure that we make Bertha Neal the safest school it can be. The Bertha Neal Staff will assist with the Loading/Unloading Zone process each morning and afternoon.


  • continue to ensure that only approved individuals will pick-up your child

  • reduce various directions of traffic in the parking lot

  • reduce the interaction between any children and adults who are not approved to pick those children up by restricting the entrance to the elementary school from anyone besides staff and students

  • prevent individuals from accessing our building and children without an approved purpose

  • continue to emphasize safety during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Procedural Overview:

  • The loading and unloading zone is in the East Lot next to the gym. This is the designated drop off-pickup area in the morning and after school. DO NOT leave your vehicla unattended in this lane.

  • This is also used as a fire lane. No vehicles should be left unattended here between the hours of 8:30 and 2:00.

  • The loading/unloading zone is for student drop off and pickup only. Adults may not exit the vehicle.

  • When using this area, pull as far forward as the lane or vehicle in front of you allows.

  • Pull all the way down to the "Loading Zone Ends" sign located at the yellow line. This is a single car lane. Do not double the lane or idle your vehicle.

  • Children should ALWAYS exit vehicles curbside (to the right), so please adjust any car/booster seats to enable safe exiting from your vehicle. Your child should be 100% prepared to exit the car with all their belongings.

  • We will be working on encouraging independence. We understand there may be difficult mornings. If exiting the vehicle becomes an issue, please find a parking space and a staff member will assist you.

  • Once your child has exited, their door is closed, and the lane is clear of others exiting, you will be dismissed to exit the zone promptly and safely. Please do not sit and watch your child enter the school with the help of our staff.

  • Children should never exit the vehicle on the left side.

  • The zone will be staffed before school and after school. It will be staffed at 8:15 each morning and beginning at 1:45 in the afternoon. Please do not drop off students before this time or if a staff member is not easily visible in the loading/unloading zone. If a child is to be picked up prior to 1:45, please contact the main office ahead of time to coordinate and use our two-way buzzer communication system located at the main entrance.

  • Staff will be staggered throughout the building and outside to assist with students walking to their classroom since adults other than staff are not allowed into the building.

  • Handicap parking in the lot will be used on an in need basis. Please coordinate with the main office ahead of time.

  • Please be patient with this system, as the safety of all remains our top priority.

Bus Riders:

Students riding the bus to and from school have essentially the same routines as before. Students will be escorted off and on to the bus by staff. When a bus arrives, students will be taken directly to class and served a breakfast if needed. At dismissal, students will remain in their classrooms with their teachers until their bus arrives. At that time, students will be taken to their appropriate bus. Staff will be stationed outside and in the halls to supervise and help with these transitions. Remember, face masks/coverings are required by all children and adults on the bus.

Students who come to school after 8:35am or leave before 1:45pm:

Our school day runs from 8:30 to 2:00 pm. Any student who comes to school after 8:35 or who leaves before 1:45 will need to be signed in or out at the main lobby just outside the main entryway using our buzzer communication system.. Any student who arrives after 8:35 am or who is pulled from class prior to 1:45 will require a note to excuse the absence. Students in our part-day programs will coordinate with classroom teachers to help make arrival and dismissal efficient and safe for all. Unless otherwise noted or worked out with school staff, families with students in these classes should still plan to use the loading/unloading zone.

Students who come to school by car between 8:15am-8:35am:

There is only one entrance and arrows to follow for drop off and pickup. Please refer to the video for further details.Students who arrive by car will be helped out and guided by staff to the West Doors (main entrance if weather is bad), for entry into the school.Please do not pull in to the bus loop.Beginning September 8th, only students and staff will enter the elementary halls to go to their classrooms.

Dismissal and emergency cards:

Preschool classrooms will begin dismissal procedures at 1:45. K-1 will begin at 1:50. Students will be escorted to the gym and sat at their cones by class where they will be dismissed as parents pull into our loading/unloading zone. Please be sure student emergency cards are on file as they will be checked as needed at dismissal. Bringing an ID just in case is required. If a student is to leave early and to avoid unnecessary calls to classrooms at the end of the day, and sign out delays, please send a note in with your child in the morning so that we know your child is not riding the bus.

  • The person signing-out the child must be on the registration card; no exceptions. We will not accept verbal requests to add an approved pick-up guardian on the phone. Please understand that the child will not be released to anyone not on the card. In order to ensure student safety, the building maintains a list of individuals who are authorized to obtain the release of students in attendance at school. This list is kept on the back of the student registration card that the parent/guardian provides to the teacher.

  • Custodial parent/guardians may amend this list, and all changes to this list must be made in person. We cannot accept changes over the phone, via text message, or email.

  • No student may be released to the custody of an individual who is not the parent or guardian of the student, unless the individual's name appears on this list.

  • Certified copies of any court orders or divorce decrees provided by the custodial parent, which restrict a parent's ability to seek the release of his or her child shall be maintained in the office.

  • In the event of an emergency, the building principal may release a student to an individual not appearing on the approved list ONLY if the parent or guardian has contacted the building principal and approves the release. Early excuses for emergency reasons should be requested in writing by the parent or guardian. Reasons for release must be submitted to the main office. The person seeking the student's release must sign the child out outside the office.

Picking-Up Students at the End of the day (1:45-2:05):

All parents are asked to follow the traffic flow of the lot and proceed to the loading/unloading zone. Please pull forward as allowed by the traffic and staff in front of you. Please have your placard (you will receive one the first week of school) displayed in the front windshield on the passenger side. If you do not have a placard to start the year, a sign with your child’s name and teacher will be sufficient. Please have your ID available in case we do not recognize you.

Poor Weather Conditions:

On mornings of bad weather (i.e. rain, sleet, snow, etc.), staff and students will improvise to continue to emphasize student safety. This means students may be redirected to the main entrance or gym entrance pending the day's conditions as those areas are entirely protected from precipitation of any kind. This type of information would be communicated as families arrive to drop their child(ren) off at school.

Other Safety Reminders for the Parking Lot:

Just a few reminders to help minimize congestion as well as hazardous conditions:

  • Please drive slowly through the parking lot following the arrows.

  • Please do not park in the parking lot unless the morning becomes problematic or other needs exist that you have coordinated with the school ahead of time.

  • Watch for cross walk and road traffic as you enter and exit.

  • Do not use the Bus loading/unloading zone unless you have coordinated with the school ahead of time. This area should be designated for only certain scenarios and after all bus traffic has cleared.

A note from Mr. C, Principal and Preschool Director:

As you know, 2020 has brought its fair share of challenges, and parking lot safety is always something to emphasize. Combining that with the surrounding circumstances, we knew we had to change up our before and after school procedures. At the same time, we do not want families feeling like their child will be expected to walk alone into the building unaware of where to go. Thus, you will still see your fair share of staff members when you pick up and drop off stationed outside for the purpose of support and continued relationship building which we pride ourselves on. In addition, teachers will be maintaining connectivity throughout the year to address needs and any concerns families may have, whether online or in-person. By having this loading zone, we feel we can still promote relationships with all staff and students while also keeping safety at the forefront for everyone.

Please be sure to share these procedures with a babysitter, grandparents or someone else who might be picking up your child(ren) and be sure these people are on the emergency cards ahead of time. In addition, an ID should always be brought just in case we do not recognize who you are.