JSE Tracks

John Simatovich Elementary School welcomes YOU!

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August 10th

Greetings, JSE Families,

Welcome Back to the 2020-2021 School Year! On behalf of all of our JSE staff, I would like to reiterate that we are here for you; working together through the challenges, that will present themselves this year, will be key to your child's success! We remain committed to start this Wednesday, August 12th with the learning option you registered your child for. That being said, thank you for reading through all of the important information in this newsletter. Please don't hesitate to ask us questions!

Our teachers are eager to get back to our Lil' Bearcats, their passion: Teaching, and our JSE Schoolhouse! All of us at JSE are with you, in realizing this return to the school year is different than past years and that we must all work together to support our children in re-learning the expectations of learning, working, and socializing at school. We know this will be an adjustment for all of them and we will take the time needed to help them with this transition.

Our teachers and staff have dedicated themselves to preparing for the new guidelines and expectations to continue to meet the highest of standards we hold for ourselves and our community at JSE! Keep in mind, we do know there will be challenges and that the best laid plans may not always work as we expect. For this, we thank you for your patience and understanding as we work through various hiccups that the beginning of this year will present.

The first days of school will be dedicated to building relationships with our kids, learning and practicing classroom and school procedures, and most of all enjoying each other through fun and engaging activities to show our students how excited we are for the year!

Be on the look out in your email for a welcome back video including a virtual JSE schoolhouse tour by the Oh so VERY Proud Principal of JSE! Please watch this video with your child and share in the excitement of their first day of school! We would love to see your first day of school pictures...please email them to me and I will make sure they make our daily morning JSE student News Show!

In Partnership,

Leigh Barnes


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First Days of School Quick Reminders:

JSE Supply list LINK: 2020-2021 LINK

Send a refillable water bottle. Please provide your child with a water bottle. We are currently installing touchless water bottle refilling stations in place of our drinking fountains.

Each child should wear a mask to school and bring an extra mask in their backpacks in case it is needed. We want our students to feel comfortable with the mask they are wearing. We do have extra masks to provide, however these most likely won't fit as well as a mask you would practice with your child in wearing.

Classroom Snacks and Birthday Treats: If you choose to send your child with a daily snack as your child's teacher may request, please send it in an individual small sealed ziplock or snack size bag of an item such as pretzels. All birthday treats must be individually pre-packaged from the store and we must have the nutrition label. Examples of acceptable birthday treats are any mini bag or single serving size of a packaged treat. Store bought cupcakes are not acceptable this year. We must be able to easily pass out an item in a sealed package.

Kindergarten - 1st grade: Please send your child with a "to the teacher" note they can have in their backpack that will support us in knowing their full name, teacher, and dismissal plan for the first week. Make sure your child knows they have the note in their backpack. We will send them home after their first day with a backpack tag.

Afternoon Car Riders: Please make sure for the first day you may a car window sign to include your Child's First and Last Name. Please put this in the window of your car for dismissal.We will provide you one for the remainder of the year after the first day.

Breakfast: Please tell your child in the morning if they should or should not eat breakfast at school, this will help in students knowing if they should go to the cafeteria or directly to their classrooms when they get to school.

Arrival and Dismissal: Thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation. With new arrival and dismissal procedures, our schedules will run slower to ensure student and staff safety in developing these routines. Please remember our arrival begins at 8:30AM with the final bell at 8:50AM and our dismissal begins at 3PM for car riders and 3:30 with buses.

Arrival and Dismissal Changes:

  • The school day begins at 8:50AM and dismisses at (NEW) 3PM for Car Riders and 3:30PM for Bus Riders.
  • Bus Riders: Your child's bus driver and number will be emailed and texted to you on the 10th. Please remember that buses do run late on the first few days of school so thank you in advance for your patience. If you have a Kindergarten child or a child new to JSE, your bus driver will call you with your bus pick-up time and bus stop information.
  • Arriving Car Riders: If you are driving and dropping your child off to school, you may do so starting at 8:30AM, use the car line door at the back parking lot on the side of the school, door G. Staff will be there to greet your child. Your child will enter the building and go directly to their classroom or go to breakfast and then to their classroom.
  • Dismissal Bus Riders: All bus riders will exit the building by 3:30PM in a single file line through the main entrance or east entrance, door L, next to our gymnasium, accordingly.
  • Dismissal Car Riders: With the increase in car rider students this year, we have made a change in our procedure. Kindergarten - 2nd grade students and their K-5 siblings will be picked up at the usual car rider door at the back parking lot on the side of the school, door G, same as the morning car rider door. Only 3rd-5th grade students will be picked up in the new additional 3rd-5th car rider line at the front of the building at Door L next to the gymnasium. We will send these directions again when we confirm your transportation directions from registration.
  • If you are picking up your child, use the K-2 or 3-5 car rider line and please have your picture ID available and a sign with your child's name on it in the car window. We will make each dismissal car rider a sign for your car window during the first week of school. This will be sent home with your child for your car window. Thank you for making your own for the first couple of days.
  • Car Riders and Bus Riders: We will have several staff members present outside to support a smooth dismissal and arrival process.
  • Walkers: Students may walk to school and cross at the cross-walk with the resource officer present between 8:25AM and 8:55PM. Parents may walk their child to school but will not be allowed to enter the building.
  • If you need to pick up your child during the day for any reason, please call ahead of time or send in a note and remember we require a picture ID anytime you are picking up your child from school.

Again, thank you for your patience with arrival and dismissal during the first week as we work carefully and diligently to keep your child safe.

Mrs. Morton our home/school advisor will confirm your child's daily transportation instructions via email and text on the 10th. If you have any changes or concerns please contact us as soon as possible.

If your child changes between bus and car rider during the week, we ask that you send in a schedule each Monday for the week so that we are in understanding of your child's transportation instructions.

Important Dates:

August 11 Virtual Learning Material Kit and Chromebook Pick-Up through the Main Entrance Library Door 1-6PM

August 12 First Student Day

Harmony Parent Portal LINK: https://sis.union.k12.in.us/familyaccess.nsf/hello.xsp

*With our current situation, please be reminded all dates, events, and information is subject to change. We appreciate you working together with us by checking your email regularly and reaching out to us with questions and concerns. Our partnership will remain strong for our children and community!

In-Person Elementary Safety and Guidelines:

To ensure that our students and staff are safe every day at JSE, there have been several changes to how our building will operate on a daily basis.

Our Re-entry Plan, Frequently Asked Questions and other related COVID-19 Information is available at the district website https://jsimatovich.union.k12.in.us/o/utsc

  • Masks are required for all students (K-5) and staff when inside the building. Please send your child wearing a mask. *we will have masks available as needed.

  • Masks are required for all students while riding the bus.

  • Both car riders and bus riders will be staggered entering and exiting the building. Arrival will start at 8:30AM with dismissal at 3PM. See detailed schedule below.

  • Students are required to hand sanitize or wash their hands when entering the classroom, entering and exiting the cafeteria, entering and exiting the playground, and at least once per hour.

  • Water fountains will be replaced with touchless bottle refill stations, please send in a refillable water bottle with your child that can be kept at their desk for the week.

  • High traffic areas such as restrooms will be sanitized multiple times throughout the day.

  • Classroom desks will be social-distanced throughout each classroom of at least 3 feet.

  • Students will have their own school supplies in their desk and any shared supplies will be sanitized in between use.

  • Lunch times have been staggered so that proper sanitization can occur between lunch periods. Please see detailed schedule below.

  • Bathroom breaks and various hallway use have been scheduled and staggered to avoid large groups.

  • Social Distance and Healthy Hygiene Signs as well as floor decals will be added to support our kids and staff.

  • Art, Computers, Social Emotional Learning, and Music will push into the classrooms, and students will not visit those classrooms. Physical Education (PE) will continue to be held in the gymnasium or outside.

  • There will be no visitors allowed into the building until further notice, which includes lunches and classroom visitors.

  • All PTO and school events (i.e., classroom parties, Fun Fair, etc.) are postponed indefinitely.

  • Meetings with teachers (i.e., IEP meetings, parent/teacher conferences, meetings with the principal), should be held virtually, when possible. If not, a scheduled meeting time will be created if preferred.

  • Meetings with staff will be by appointment only.

We understand that there are a lot of new changes to how we operate, but in order to properly ensure the safety of all our students and staff, these changes must be made and we appreciate your understanding.

Face Masks:

From the Office of our Superintendent: We continue to live in a time when COVID-19 affects the operations of our daily lives and our response requires frequent adjustment. As we continue in our planning, the safety of our students and staff remain paramount. With that said, we are asking for some additional feedback.

Since the release of our plan on July 8th, the Porter County Health Department now requires the use of face masks for the majority of the day with some time planned to be mask free.

Accordingly, staff and students will be required to wear a mask when:

1. Riding the bus

2. Moving throughout the building (ie., restroom breaks, passing periods)

3. In the classroom while the teacher is providing direct instruction and/or group discussion is occurring.

"Mask-free" breaks will be available when students are outside, at recess, physical activity during PE, at lunch or doing independent quiet work in the classroom. We will schedule in "mask-free" breaks into each classroom's schedule.

*Teachers and Staff will be required to wear a mask at all times. Our teachers will wear a clear mask to support teaching and connecting with students.

*Student masks are included on the supply list. Please have your child wear a mask daily to school. If needed, we will have masks available at school for situations that may cause a student to need an additional mask.

*We will provide each child with an orange safety breakaway lanyard to support them in wearing the mask. The lanyard will stay at school and be used during the school day.

*Face shields may not be used in lieu of a face mask.

Important Informational Resource LINKS

Important Informational Resource LINKSVIDEO from the ISDH LINK

***1 hr. long video but very beneficial information in regards to the protocol for a positive test in several different school settings.

July 30th Letter from ISDH regarding Return to School in lieu of the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, please take a moment to read the link found HERE.

IDOE Family Engagemet Toolkit

Mask Wearing and Caring Helpful Information and Guidance

Prepare your Child Now for Wearing a Mask

Talking with children about Coronavirus Disease 2019 Messages for parents, school staff, and others working with children


CDC COVID-19 Information

Indiana State Department of Health Website

Porter County Health Department Website

Beginning of the Year events:

We realize the importance and value the events we hold at the beginning of each year to welcome students and families back to JSE. These annual events include our new student welcoming, open house nights, Kindergarten and 1st grade family meet and greets and PTO ice-cream social.

This year, these traditional back to school events have been canceled in order to limit building access to students and staff according to our re-entry plan. After registration, all visitors to our building will be by appointment only. Our intent is to still provide opportunities for students and families to feel welcome, connected, and more at ease as we transition into a new school year.

These events will not be in the traditional in-person fashion rather your child's principal and teacher will be reaching out with welcome back to the classroom details.

Mrs. Barnes and Crew will be sending out a We ARE Lil' Bearcats, Welcome Back Video!

Our JSE Cafe:

Our school serves breakfast ($1) at 8:30am and lunch ($2) each day, an August menu can be found on our website the week before school begins. We will also email and send home a hard copy the first day of school. If you drive your child to school and would like them to have breakfast, please drop them off in the car line by 8:25am. Bus riders will be dismissed from the bus to eat breakfast.

The Free and Reduced Price Breakfast and Lunch Application may be completed online through your Harmony Family Portal Account or picked up in the office anytime. Applications need to be completed each year. Families who applied and qualified last year will need to reapply at the start of school. If you would like us to send a copy home with your child during the first week of school please call the main office.

Mealtime: You may find information at this LINK to create an account or add your child to your mealtime account. You may also always send money in with your child to be added to your child's account.. Please make sure the money is in an envelope marked with your child's name and indicate lunch money. Our kitchen manager, Sandy Denison, will get all Kindergarten and new student families their lunch account information the first week of school, should you choose to create a mealtime account, this will be needed information.

Ice Cream Friday and Snacks: These will be available to students after we get our school year started. More information will be communicated in an upcoming weekly newsletter.

Lunch Visitors: To start the school year, we will not be allowing visitors during our lunch periods. Thank you again, for understanding the changes in place to support our safety measures this school year.

Updated Lunch/Recess Schedule:

  • For recess, students will leave the building and enter the building through different entry locations to avoid crossing traffic.

    • 10:45-11:10 (KG Lunch/1st Recess)

      • 5 Min Clean Break

    • 11:15-11:40 (KG Recess/1st Lunch)

      • 10 Min Clean Break

    • 11:50- 12:15 (2nd Lunch/3rd Recess)

      • 5 Min Clean Break

    • 12:20- 12:45 (2nd Recess/3rd Lunch)

      • 10 Min Clean Break

    • 12:55- 1:20 (5th Recess/4th Lunch)

      • 5 Min Clean Break

    • 1:25- 1:50 (5th Lunch/4th Recess)

      • Cafeteria Cleaned

UTSC Return to Learn Informative Document Links

At this time, UTSC will follow our previously Board approved 2020-21 school year calendar with our first school day of August 12th at all UTSC schools.

UTSC Re-entry Plan LINK

FAQ for our Re-entry Plan LINK

Plan for Virtual Remote Learning Option LINK

Superintendent Hunter's Ready to Learn Video Information Link Below:

Elementary Virtual Learning Student Update, New Model:

At the beginning of this process, UTSC announced that they would be able to provide a Virtual Teacher for each grade level whose responsibility was to focus on virtual learning for only those students who choose the virtual option.

Due to enrollment, we have made changes that we feel will support both virtual and in-person students together with one teacher the entire school year. Your child’s teacher will have both virtual and in-person students in their classroom, at the same time. As a result, this model will allow for our students to build strong classroom relationships with their teacher and peers, regardless of in-person or virtual. In the likelihood that a student, classroom, or building would need to become virtual, your child’s classroom teacher will remain the same throughout the 2020-2021 school year.

What Does This Mean?

Teachers will provide their virtual students with a daily schedule in advance to follow during the school day.

The daily learning schedule will be the same for both virtual and in-person students as much as possible; students will have regular assignments, support, feedback, and accountability built in to their learning each day. Students are expected to complete assignments daily and participate in virtual learning activities as assigned by the teacher.

Our UTSC district office shared specific guidelines to confirm your child’s registration as a virtual student due to the above change in model. Included in these guidelines is more information on the expectations, responsibilities and attendance.

JSE Construction Project Underway:

We are currently in the process of reconfiguring our main entrance to make a more secure entry to our school. Parents will still buzz-in at the first set of doors and then be able to sign in at the main office before being buzzed into the school. We are removing a set of doors, adding another set of doors near our main office, adding a sign-in window to our main office, and moving the library entrance to the Kindergarten and 1st grade hallway. The project is moving along smoothly and expected to be complete by the first day of school. I look forward to this update to our school house and sharing pictures with you!

We are also replacing all of our water fountains with touchless water bottle refill stations. Students will be asked to bring a refillable water bottles to leave at school for the week.

PTO News

  • PTO Events: We will continue to support the school with needs and events throughout the year. Information will be shared with you.
  • Join our facebook page and let us know if you are interested in joining our meetings and looking for ways to get involved in our school! Please reach out to us through our facebook page or our PTO email.
  • PTO Meetings usually occur the first Tuesday of each month at 6PM. Please consider attending the meetings this year, every JSE parent is welcome and encouraged to attend! Changes to our meetings to follow social distancing guidelines and safety measures of UTSC will be communicated.

Kidstop Program: Before and After-School Care at JSE:

Information will be shared in early August, before school begins.

https://www.bgcgreaternwi.org/kidstop/ Website LINK
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New Website:

We are excited to begin sharing our innovative website with you. The new website will support our goal to increase communication with families and the community. Please ensure we have an updated cell phone and email. We now have an automated calling system through the website that allows us to be in contact with you immediately through a voice message to your phone.

Our JSE website is still under construction however, I have updated the NEWS posted in regards to the beginning of school for you to view. You may also view previous weekly newsletters. Our district website includes much information to our Return to Learn plan. From the JSE website, you may visit all other schools and district sites.


You are always welcome at JSE!

Please let us know how we can strengthen our partnership with you!

Feel free to contact me anytime! Very Sincerely, Mrs. Barnes

Leigh Barnes, Principal ext 3001

Barb Rittel, Secretary ext 3000

Lisa Morton, Home School Advisor ext 3003

Kathy Maniszko, School Nurse ext 3002