HEALTH AND SAFETY AT MUSCOTA
|Clothing||Safety in school||Sleep|
|Toys, Electronics, etc.||Student Discipline||Illness|
|Cell Phones||A Safe Environment|
School day begins at 8:30 am. All kindergarten and first grade children should enter with their guardian through the main entrance. Kindergarten and first grade children will walk from the security agent’s desk to the hallway outside their classrooms where they will be greeted by a school aide. Students in second grade through fifth grade should enter through the schoolyard. A school aide and Denise will be waiting to line students up and bring them into their classrooms.
We do not have a morning program or supervision for children dropped off early. If your child is not participating in the breakfast program, please do not send them to school early. In order to ensure the safety of all children, adults will not be allowed in the schoolyard after 8:20.
Eating a good breakfast is an important part of having a great day in school. All students are eligible to eat breakfast for free. Breakfast is served from 8:00-8:20, at which time the kitchen doors will close. Any student wishing to have breakfast in school should enter the cafeteria through the schoolyard door. If a parent has a meeting scheduled with a teacher or staff member, please do not use the schoolyard gate. You need to enter through the front door where our security agent is.
School ends at 2:50 on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. All children will be dismissed by their teachers into the schoolyard. On Monday and Tuesday there is extended day for children in need of additional tutoring or intervention. Extended day will also include clubs and enrichment to ensure all children receive sufficient instructional time during the day.
Children participating in extended day will not come down for the 2:50 dismissal time on Monday and Tuesday. Please be aware that not all teachers will dismiss students at 2:50 on Monday and Tuesday. Some teachers will remain in the building with the extended day program.
Students participating in the after-school program will be dismissed to the after-school program liason.
Children in kindergarten and first grade must live l/2 a mile, from the school.
Children in grades 2-5 must live 1 mile away from the school.
Our primary concern is your child’s safety. Students should always keep an Emergency contact card in their backpack. General Education buses do NOT have a matron. The only adult on the bus is the driver. It is crucial that you talk to your child about appropriate and safe behavior. Children should fasten their seat belts when they get on the bus and MUST remain seated for the entire ride until the bus stops to let them off. There is no fighting, teasing or throwing of objects allowed on the bus. Students who do not follow these rules will be suspended from the bus. Children who consistently behave in a manner that creates an unsafe situation on the bus will have their bus riding privileges revoked.
Bus children will be met by a school aide and walked to the cafeteria for breakfast in the morning. At the end of the school day, students should be met at the bus stop unless a OPT release form has been completed.
Regular attendance is critical to successful achievement in school. Conversely, poor attendance is one of the most significant indicators of potential risk. Every absence represents a loss of instructional time and is recorded in the ATS (Automate the Schools) system of the Department of Education (DOE). Your child’s attendance becomes part of your child’s permanent record and is one of the main criteria middle schools use to assess incoming students. A Form 407 Attendance Follow-up and Outreach Referral is automatically generated for excessive absence. Your child’s attendance also affects our school report card grade. School attendance is a significant part of the DOE assessment of our school.
Students should not miss school except in the case of illness. Please send in a note for each absence. A doctor’s note is required after 2 days. Please do not schedule vacations during school days. Please make every effort to schedule doctor’s appointments after school hours. If this is not possible, please have your child attend for part of the day. If a child is scheduled for an afternoon appointment, an adult must pick the child up from school. Please make sure that all adults with permission to pick your child up are listed on the emergency form. If a child wakes up late, it is better for them to arrive late then miss the entire day.
Our teachers work to support your child in many ways. We have found that using the Responsive Classroom structure for Morning Meeting provides our students with a “welcome,” involves them in community-building, and gives them the support they need to have a happy, productive day. When your child arrives late, s/he misses this important part of the day.
Morning Meeting is generally followed by a major academic period, which may be math, reading or writing workshop. Since our workshop structure begins with a mini lesson, your child’s lateness prevents him/her from receiving this information, leaving him/her lost for the duration of the workshop.
When a child arrives late teachers must offer them information on what they need to do. Thus the teacher must interrupt all other children’s learning to do this.
Finally, we want to remind you that each lateness, along with each absence, is recorded in the ATS system and thus becomes part of your child’s permanent record. This becomes particularly important when children apply to Middle School because absence and lateness are scrutinized by many Middle Schools.
If your child arrives late, you must accompany him or her to our main office, where he or she will receive a late pass. Do not take your child directly to class. We recognize this is an added inconvenience to families who are running late especially when the child’s class is on the first floor; however it is imperative that we monitor student lateness and absences.
Muscota lunch period is from 12:25-1:10. The period is divided between lunch and recess, so that all children have a supervised recess either before or after lunch. Therefore, children have about 20 minutes in the cafeteria to eat. In collaboration with Wellness in the Schools, Muscota tries to maintain a nutritious lunch menu. If you pack a lunch for your child, we ask that you support Muscota’s effort to teach our children about health and nutrition and avoid sending sugary or fatty foods, such as candy, chips, cookies, or soft-drinks.
At the beginning of the year, all students will receive a federally required lunch form. These forms are essential because they determine not only the type of payment system for each child, but also the kind of funding the school will receive. Even if you feel that you do not qualify for free or reduced lunch, if you intend to pay in full, or send in a packed lunch from home, this form must be filled out for each of your children attending Muscota.
Lunch Forms must list your TAXABLE family income. The food services decision determines the type of food plan your child will be on based on your income. The three possible categories are: free, reduced, or paid. (Remember, breakfast is free regardless of your lunch status.) We request that you pay these fees on a monthly or per semester basis. You will receive a specific pay schedule directly from the school secretary once the forms are collected.
We cannot stress the importance of sending in the federally required Lunch Forms as soon as you receive them. These forms determine Title 1 funding.
Because lunch is late in the day, students will have a morning snack in the classroom. The snack is healthy and donated by families. Snacks served during the school day or in after-school or enrichment programs should make a positive contribution to children’s diets and health. We will serve only nutritious snack to students. We ask that parents support our focus on healthy eating and do not send high-fat, high-sugar junk foods such as candy, chips, pudding and cookies, or sugary drinks. Gum chewing is not allowed.
Every class receives a supervised recess period of 25 minutes in the outside play yard either before or after lunch. We take the children outside, even in the winter, unless the temperature or wind chill is particularly frigid. We ask that the children have appropriate outerwear during the cold weather. This includes hats, scarves, gloves and boots if necessary.
Notification of School Closings and Delayed openings
Muscota follows the procedures and regulations of the New York City Department of Education. The Chancellor will make an announcement by 6:00am if school opening is delayed or if schools are closed. Please listen to the news. TV channels include 2,4,5,7,9,11, New York 1 and WNYE-TV. Radio Stations include: WINS (1010 AM), WCBS (880 AM) WLIB (1190 AM), WBLS (107.5 FM) WADO (1280 AM), WKDM (1380 AM), WNYE (91.5 FM) WSKQ ( 97.9 FM) and WXLX (620 AM). Muscota will open at 10:20 when a delayed opening is declared. Dismissal time will remain the same. Busses will come to your stop 2 hours later.
Muscota encourages and expects parents to be vital supporters of their children’s school experiences and to communicate with teachers about issues affecting their children. Open, honest communication is in everyone’s best interest as we all have the same goal: the positive growth and learning of our children. If you have a concern about your child’s experience at school, please approach your child’s teacher first. Parent–teacher conferences may be scheduled at any time during the year, by the parent or the teacher. If you then feel the issue is not resolved, please inform the parent coordinator of your concerns.
Individual teachers will notify you of their preferred method of communication. Some prefer a phone call to the school to schedule an appointment. Some are happy to correspond by email. The beginning and end of the day are not the best time to expect an in-depth discussion of your child. Sending a note to your child’s teacher is also a good way to communicate a concern or ask for a meeting.
Please plan ahead regarding changes in your pick up procedure. Children cannot be released to anyone who is not designated on the blue card. We cannot release children without written consent from the guardian, even when we know the family you are asking to pick up your child.
If there is an emergency the parent must call our parent coordinator. The office staff and teachers cannot be counted on to communicate after school plans or changes to a child’s pick up schedule. Children need to know their dismissal plans when they leave home in the morning. Not only are changes disruptive to the class and school, regular changes are very unsettling to your child's sense of well being, so plan ahead.
There are many times throughout the year when we like to welcome families directly into the classrooms. Sometimes there are special, all-class events to which all families are invited. Other times, individual families lead special activities. If you would like to help your child's teacher in the classroom, please contact him or her to find out what will work best. Most of the time, parent assistance in the classroom is warmly welcomed. However, for some children, having a parent in the classroom is too distracting. If so, it may be better to assist the teacher outside of the classroom or during times when children aren't there.
All classroom visits are designed to promote our school values and the learning of all children. All classroom visits are scheduled ahead of time and approved by the principal. Visitors cannot visit a classroom without prior approval. Unannounced visits interrupt instruction and can distract the children and teacher from the daily learning goals.Conferences should be arranged ahead of time at a mutually convenient time to discuss any issues with your child. Parent/teachers conferences no matter how brief cannot take place during instructional time.
All children should read each evening. If your child is not reading on his/her own a family member should read to him/her. The amount and type of work sent home will vary depending on the grade of your child and the topics being covered. Kindergartners will not receive traditional homework on a regular basis. As they get older the work will increase as well. Expectations grow from occasional suggested literacy or math activities, to weekly packets, to long-term research projects in the upper grades.
Your child's teacher will send home a letter outlining how and when homework and other notices will be sent home and returned as well as his/her complete homework policy.
Learning by doing is at the heart of all curriculum planning and instruction. Meaningful work is authentic, has real purpose and place in the world. That is why there are so many materials available in the classrooms. But there is just so much that can be brought inside. Forests, museums, live performances, even the streets of NYC are the world that we want the children to learn about and prepare for. Therefore all classes leave the school regularly to participate in these other experiences.
All families are asked to sign a Neighborhood Permission slip at the beginning of each school year. That covers the times that your child goes on a neighborhood walk, to Inwood or Ft. Tryon Park, to work with the Urban Ranger Program or New York Restoration Project, to use area playgrounds. There is no transportation involved on these outings; you will not get special notice when the class leaves the building for a neighborhood walk. These trips are generally an hour or so. Class trips out of the neighborhood require a separate permission slip signed by the parent. You will get advance notice of these trips, where the class is going, whether by subway or school bus, if there is a fee and whether lunch is needed. A few things to keep in mind:
No child will ever be left behind if the family cannot pay the admission fee.
School bag lunches are always taken along so that it is not necessary for the family to send lunch in order for the child to participate. Chaperones are usually needed, but speak to your teacher in advance. Although you may be interested in going and are available, it may not be appropriate. Siblings are never allowed on trips. A chaperone must be 18 or older.
All trips are part of the required class work for each student. In-class lessons and activities before and after the trip, as well as homework follow-up, are part of the planning. Children who do not take part in the trips miss instruction.
We do not celebrate any traditional or commercial holidays at Muscota for several reasons. First, as a diverse, multicultural school, there are many beliefs represented in our classes. While individual differences are acknowledged and unique traditions welcomed into our classrooms, Just as the academic work is authentic, the social/emotional curriculum needs to be honest to the children's feelings as well. We want every member of our school community to feel at home within the school, therefore the traditions and rituals we "celebrate" come from the culture we have established together. Some of those traditions, such as Mad Hatter’s Day, Candlelight Night, and Mini Mall, are described on our Events and Programs page.
Health and Safety at Muscota
Dressing for Success
Muscota encourages students to dress in clothing that is comfortable. School activities often require sitting on the rug or floor. Students are likely to paint, use markers and glue several times a week. Daily recess is safest and best enjoyed in sneakers or other sturdy footwear. Please avoid fancy clothing that students “cannot get dirty.” Sandals, platform shoes, tight skirts or shorts limit a child’s ability to run and climb. They can also become a safety concern.
Part of our mission is promoting the social and emotional development of students. It is important that we give our students the skills to interact and fully participate in all aspects of the community and society at large. Clothing can become a distraction and hinder our ability to support all students’ development. Please adhere to the following policies around clothing. Girls should not wear tube tops, halters, or spaghetti strap tank tops in any grade. All pants and shorts should cover a child’s underwear. For those who like it baggy, be sure that the waist fits. Hats should not be worn in the classroom, except for religious reasons. If a child is dressed inappropriately we will offer a t-shirt or pants.
Our building has central air-conditioning that makes it difficult to regulate the temperature in individual classrooms. Even when it is very hot outside a child may need a sweater. Please make sure your child has an extra sweater or sweatshirt to ensure they are comfortable in the classroom. If you have any questions about appropriate school clothing, feel free to ask your
child’s teacher or call the office.
Toys, expensive jewelry and electronic devises.
All of these things distract from student learning. They are often lost, stolen or given away. They can’t be shared, and cause needless problems in the classroom, lunchroom and school yard. Needless to say they are way more trouble than they are worth. Please keep them at home. Talk to your child about not bringing things from home unless it is requested by the teacher.
We know that some children travel long distances to school. If parents feel it is appropriate for children to carry a cell phone they must be kept off and out of site during the school day. Cell phones cannot be used in school. The school is not responsible for lost or stolen phones. Phones will be confiscated if taken out or used. Parents will then have to pick them up from the principal. Please make sure your children comply with this rule.
School as a safe place
We ask our children to become contributing members of a cooperative, collaborative community. Our school community places a priority on being a safe space where children and adults value empathy and non-violence. We know that only when children are physically and emotionally safe can they be free to learn.
There is absolutely NO HITTING and NO HITTING BACK tolerated at Muscota. Teasing, name-calling and other forms of bullying are also not tolerated. The staff of Muscota works to support students in finding ways to express their anger and solve problems without hitting or name-calling. Students and adults are all expected to speak respectfully to each other, to use kind words and avoid unkind words, and to work out any disagreements or struggles through conversation, debate, and consensus. Parents can support this process by reminding their children of these rules. Please speak to your child about their school day on a regular basis. If a child reports that these rules are being broken, parents should alert the classroom teacher immediately.
Our expectation is that students will be happily engaged in learning and doing, and that there will therefore be few discipline issues. If a student is having difficulty putting his or her best foot forward, the school will determine, on a case by case basis, the best manner of re-engaging the student and relieving any associated problems.
Students are expected to participate in all classroom activities. School wide norms will be clarified and class rules will be developed based on our shared norms. If a rule is broken, students may be asked to separate from the group. Each classroom has a time out area. Each class has a buddy class where students who need support beyond the class time-out area may be asked to go to. Any violent or abusive action necessitates an immediate call to the parent or guardian.
Muscota students are subject to the Disciplinary Code of the NYC DoE. A copy of this code will be sent by the DOE to every home.
Ensuring a safe learning environment
All visitors must enter the building through the main office where the security agent is present. Everyone is asked to present a photo id each time they enter the building. The security agent will give you a pass to proceed to your destination.
All visits to the classrooms must be approved prior to your visit. The security agent will be informed of scheduled visits, allowing you to bypass the main office on the third floor. If you do not have a scheduled visit, you must go to the main office.If you are picking up your child early you must go to the main office.
Under no circumstances can a parent/guardian pick up a child from the classroom. All students being picked up early must be signed out in the main office by school personnel. A gentle reminder that children cannot be picked up by anyone other than the adults authorized on the emergency card without written permission.
Elementary aged children need 10 to 12 hours of sleep at night in order to function at their best during the day. Even mild sleep deprivation can have a significant toll on a young child during the day. In addition, it is often the case that behavioral problems are related to sleep deprivation. Please set up a regular evening routine (a time to start getting ready, a book or two, etc.) to make sure your child gets adequate sleep.
If your child contracts a communicable illness, please inform us so that we may inform other parents of their child’s exposure. If your child has a fever, nausea or diarrhea or other adverse symptoms, please keep your child at home to recover. If these symptoms develop at school, you will be asked to take your child home.
Before sending your child to school, be sure your child feels well enough to have a positive, productive day and be considerate of the health of others around your child. If your child gets sick or hurt at school, we will take the immediate action necessary (first aid, the nurse, the hospital) and we will call you. Please make sure that we have up-to-date phone numbers and addresses for your family and emergency contact people. We must be able to reach every family. Please be aware that unless your child is seriously ill, he or she will remain in our office until you arrive. The school nurse’s office is not available to us for children to rest or lie down.
Any serious accidents that occur at the Muscota will be documented in an on-line occurrence report by the responsible adult present at the time of injury. The usual bumps and scrapes requiring a band aid and/or a bit of sympathy do not generate such reports. However, we will make every effort to inform you of any incident no matter how minor.
Muscota shares a full time school nurse with Amistad. Her office is located on the first floor. If your child hurts him or herself in school, the nurse is available to help. It is important that you accurately fill in the yellow emergency sheet in the beginning of each year. A copy of the emergency sheet is kept in our office and another is kept in the nurse's office. If your child needs to take medication on a regular basis, you must have a medical form (504) on file. 504 forms are available in the nurse’s office. Under no circumstances can a teacher or other staff member distribute medication to your child. If your child has a short term need for medication please, speak to the nurse, and we will accommodate your child on an individual basis in consultation with your child’s doctor.