JSE Tracks

John Simatovich Elementary School welcomes YOU!

July 27th

Good Afternoon, JSE Families,

This week is registration and we are so very excited to welcome you and assign your child to a teacher. Please remember you will find out your child's teacher the week after registration.

Thank you for your patience, understanding and time to view these weekly communications. Updates include registration information, UTSC Virtual Learning Plan, JSE construction project, mask information as well as updates to general registration information as indicated below.

Registration: Tuesday (28th), Wednesday (29th), and Thursday (30th).

  • Returning families, log-in via the Harmony Parent Portal and complete the online registration, the same procedure we did last year.
  • New families and kindergarten families, we will need (1) parent, no children, to come into the JSE main office on one of the registration days to complete the needed paper forms to be able to complete the remainder of registration online. We welcome you anytime between 8-4pm. If you need after work hours, we will be open until 6pm on Thursday. Mrs. Rittel, our JSE main secretary and I will be available to meet you, share our school with you, and answer any questions you may have. Please see needed documents below under the registration information.
  • Remote Virtual Learning Option, during registration you will have the option both online and in-person at JSE to choose the virtual learning option for your child.
  • Please wear a mask when you enter the building.
  • Please enter through the front east doors, not the Main Entrance. A welcome sign will be at the door.

Our teachers are eager to get back to our Lil' Bearcats, their passion: Teaching and our JSE Schoolhouse! Mr. Joe and crew have done an excellent job getting our building ready for the upcoming school year within the guidelines of our re-entry plan. Teachers are already working hard to prepare for the school year. We appreciate their dedication to JSE kids and families!

Our main office opened today and will remain open daily 8-4pm, if you have questions or concerns I am available anytime via my email lbarnes@union.k12.in.us or if you would like to meet in-person, please call the main office to schedule an appointment.

#BearcatStrong together!

Leigh Barnes


NEW: Safety and Guidelines at JSE

Safety and Guidelines at Union Center

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

  • Masks are required for all students (K-5) and staff when inside the building.

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

  • Both car riders and bus riders will be staggered into and exiting the building. Further details regarding the arrival and dismissal process will be shared August 10th.

  • 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.

  • Classroom desks will be social-distanced throughout each classroom.

  • 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.

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

  • 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 this is 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.

New: 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.

Update: 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, physical activity during PE, at lunch or doing independent quiet work in the classroom.

*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.

Update: School Supply List

Classroom Teacher Assignment: Your child's teacher information will be available via your Harmony account on August 5th. We will also an email to let you know that information is available. Your child's teacher will reach out to you before school begins.

Bus Assignments: You will be notified of your child's bus assignment the Monday before school begins, August 10th.

JSE Supply list LINK: 2020-2021 LINK *add refillable water bottle to the list! Please provide your child with a daily mask and a water bottle. We are currently installing touchless water bottle refilling stations in place of our drinking fountains.

Textbook Rental Fees: You may pay your child's Textbook Rental online through the Harmony Parent Portal or you may send in a check or pay cash at our JSE office. Click this link for your child's textbook rental fee information.

Update: 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

Most Recent Special Board Meeting Video 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:

Update: We have a new website underway

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. 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.


Important Dates:

July 27 JSE Main Office Open 8-4PM *Please call to make an appointment before coming in

July 28,29,30 ONLINE Registration via Harmony Parent Portal *this is where you will register your child for the virtual option.

July 28,29,30 Kindergarten and New Student Registration at JSE in-person, please wear a mask. Come in between 8-4PM Tuesday or Wednesday and Thursday anytime between 8-6PM.

August 5th Classroom Teacher assignment available via Harmony

August 10 Bus Number Assignment available via Harmony

August 12 First Student Day *Information to come

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!

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. More information will be shared in early August. 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.

Online Registration Information:

Last week, UTSC Superintendent Mr. Hunter released Union Township’s Re-Entry Plan for the 2020-2021 school year. In the plan are guidelines for how UTSC will operate due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have yet to see the plan, please see Mr. Hunter's letter and a link to the plan below. Currently, our plan is for students and staff to return to our school building with safety measures in place. For those students who do not wish to return to the physical building, a virtual learning option will be provided for your child by your child's elementary teacher.

Registration for JSE is the following days in July: Tuesday (28th), Wednesday (29th), and Thursday (30th). For returning families, all you will need to do is log-in via the Harmony Parent Portal and complete the online registration, the same procedure we did last year. For new families and incoming kindergarten families, we will need (1) parent, no children, to come into the JSE main office on one of the registration days to complete the needed paper forms to be able to complete the remainder of registration online. We welcome you anytime between 8-4 on the 28-30th. If you need after work hours, we will be open until 6pm on Thursday. Mrs. Rittle, our JSE main secretary and I will be available to meet you, share our school with you, and answer any questions you may have.

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

During registration, per the UTSC Re-Entry Plan, as stated above, families will have the option of choosing to have their child attend JSE in-person or virtually to start the school year. As a parent, I completely understand that you would like to know how the day-to-day operations of our building will operate, and my plan is to continue to send details specific to JSE daily operations after registration.

The current plan is for all UTSC schools to open for students on Wednesday, August 12th, our normal start of the school year. The re-opening of schools is a fluid situation and is something that we are monitoring on a daily basis so that we can do everything possible to ensure that all our students and staff can return to school safely.

UPDATE: Registration for Kindergarten and New Families

What New Families Need to Bring: The following items should be brought with Kindergarten and New Families to successfully register your child at Union Center:

  1. Two (2) of the Following Proofs of Residency

  • Driver’s License

  • Mortgage Statement

  • Rental Agreement

  • Utility Bill (Nipsco, Water, Trash)

  1. No Other Documents Will Be Accepted

  2. Original Birth Certificate

  3. Immunization Records

Big picture

We Welcome New JSE Staff:

I am happy to share we have some new additions to the JSE Schoolhouse family staff.

Mrs. Jennifer Oxendale will be a new 4th grade teacher for us, replacing Mrs. Asher as Mrs. Asher will now be our High Ability teacher. Mrs. Belinda Black will be our new Social-Emotional Learning teacher, this is an additional specials curriculum we look forward to offering our students. We are delighted to have these amazing educators join our team.

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.

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.

First Day of School and Transportation:

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

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

You are always welcome at JSE!

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

Leigh Barnes, Principal ext 3001

Barb Rittel, Secretary ext 3000

Lisa Morton, Home School Advisor ext 3003

Kathy Maniszko, School Nurse ext 3002