While we’ve been getting started in the classrooms, the playground, library, gym and everything else we’ve also been looking at our systems at this new site. We are now done with eight full days of school and I’d like to fill you in on things that will make our lives together go more smoothly.
Student drop-off/pick-up zone: After a slow start we are getting the plan for student movement before and after school. We have a lot of issues with our crosswalks and it seemed to make sense that we would try to keep buses and cars on the same street for supervision and traffic issues. Therefore, our bus and car drop-off will be on Bigelow driving southbound. We have decided to use the first block south of Boston for bus drop-off and the second block, almost everything south of Crockett, used as parent drop-off. The most important thing about the drop-off is that it is drop-off, not park and walk student onto the playground or into class. For this to work it must be constantly moving along, depositing children onto the sidewalk, into the loving arms of QAE, and the cars pulling away. It is also important to respect the bus zone. In the morning it will not be much of an issue because buses come and go pretty quickly. In the afternoon we will--eventually, maybe, hopefully--have buses lined up when school ends for students to just get on and go while cars must be confined to Bigelow south of Crockett.
After 11 years of dealing with after school pick-up I have yet to see a satisfactory system. Because kids will not be waiting at the curb for parents to pick them up it means that cars will be parked in the "drop-off" zone at the end of the day. If everyone fits in the zone it will not be a big deal, however, when there are more cars than there is space I would ask you to either go around the block, or park and walk to the playground or to the pick-up zone to find your child. Blocking the bus zone or sitting in the street are not options for the afternoon. Love to have a better solution to this if you have one. For now, it's simply respect and good manners that will get us through the afternoons.
We may still be a few weeks away from having real signs on the street but we do have the temporary signs there now.
Most important—please do not drive into the staff parking lot next to the playground/play court area. The driveway up to that area goes right by a main entry/exit door next to our library and is a major safety concern for me. We will likely be closing and locking that gate at certain times of the day, including school beginning and end times.
General parking: We have a very small parking lot and it is generally filled to capacity with staff and construction cars. To get to the parking area it also requires driving right next to an entry/exit door for our students. I know this could be difficult but I would ask that parents park on the street around the school and not drive up the driveway to the parking lot unless it’s after hours. Any time you use the entry off of 4th Ave. please use extreme caution as we work to keep our kids safe and move adults around also.
Beginning of day: Our supervision on the playground beings at 9:05AM, which is 20 minutes before first bell. You are welcome to drop off your child at that time and we will provide supervision until school starts. Students are welcome in the library before school, about 20 kids maximum, for those who prefer that to the playground.
After school playground: You are welcome on the playground at any time. My only concern so far has been students riding bikes through the little gate to the parking lot and making a big circle through the parked cars. We are aware the gate is currently not secure and it’s easy for kids to see that as a nice circle route around the playground. I would appreciate it if you would partner with us by setting boundaries for your kids to play and ride only on the main part of the playground and the area near the playscape.
Attendance: Please call the office, 206.252.2480, if your child is absent. We must have confirmation for every absence or scheduled late arrival and it’s much easier if you call us rather than us calling you. If you get the answering machine just leave a message--we will get it and enter it into our system.
Family change of plans: Calls coming to the office near or at the end of the day have always created a bit of havoc for the office and classroom teachers. Because of the configuration of our campus this has already become a major issue this year. When pick-up plans change or play dates are arranged last minute and those calls come to the office just before school ends it creates the aforementioned havoc. Our request is that as much as possible that those changes are made long before the end of school, ideally the previous day, and communicated to the office and teacher early. We certainly understand that things happen and we have to deal with them but please help us deal with them in a timely and efficient manner.
Volunteers: If you are or plan to volunteer at QAE you must fill out the volunteer form for background check. Please visit the office or send in the form as soon as possible so we can take care of that piece of business.
Monday Morning Meeting (MMM): First thing every Monday morning we have a community get together in our lunchroom/auditorium. This meeting is a way to start the week together and share important, fun or serious things together. We mention birthdays, special achievements, talk about issues and generally plan to begin the week well. You are always welcome to join us at 9:30AM for MMM.
Dress code: Ok, we don’t really have a dress code, more like common sense. The biggest issue has always been footwear. Because we have gym at least four days a week and we have recess every day of the week it’s important that kids wear active type footwear. Flip-flops may be the worst footwear imaginable for what kids are doing at school. Running, wood chips and milk spills are just three of the reasons to choose something other than that. Normally I’m not too concerned about sandals if they cover the toes or the have some sort of strap in the back to keep them on. I know some kids love to dress well at school—common sense is my expectation. If you have more specific questions, I’m happy to answer.
Dogs: I will begin with the statement that I love dogs. I particularly love well-trained and friendly dogs. However—the law states that dogs are not allowed on school grounds. That includes our playground and everything inside the fence. I do know that this can be a very emotional issue for many dog owners who want to have their dogs with them and I understand that all our families’ dogs are well behaved and would never hurt a child. Nevertheless, there are many other reasons that it makes sense to leave dogs at home or tied up outside school grounds. For instance, we have many students who are not comfortable around dogs or are allergic. I can also tell you stories of students bitten and a dog on dog attack on the playground at Coe that left many students traumatized. I hate being the QAE animal patrol and simply request that you respect the regulations and our request that dogs not come on school grounds.
Adults crossing the street: Our crossing guards are being trained to keep all students safe while getting to and from school. Several of them have had concerns about crossing adults, whether alone or with a child. Some adults are not waiting for the crossing guards to make decisions about a safe time to cross and just simply walk into the street when they are ready. I’d like to ask you to see the crossing guards as your child would if they were not with and let them do the work of getting you and your children safely across. These fourth and fifth graders take this seriously and I know they would love it if they felt adults trusted them.
Lost and Found: We have located the official lost and found in the Treehouse, directly at the top of the entry stairs to the second floor. I believe I heard that we have a volunteer who will be monitoring that accumulation of stuff. I’m sure you’ll hear more about this.