Handbook » Parent Handbook - School Policies and Procedures

Parent Handbook - School Policies and Procedures

John R. Briggs Elementary School


Parent Handbook

We Grow and Learn Together, Here at JRB
School Policies and Procedures
Enrollment Requirements
Student enrollment packets; including proof of residency are required during the enrollment process. Packets are available from school office and www.awrsd.org/jrb website.
• A parent/guardian registering a new student requires proof that the students lives in Ashburnham by providing some of the following items: copy of deed or record of most recent mortgage payment, copy of leases and copy of most recent rent payment, legal affidavit affirming tenancy and record of recent rent payment, Section 8 agreement, a copy utility bill or work order dated within 60 days (e.g. gas bill, oil bill, electric bill, home telephone bill, or cable bill), a copy of valid Massachusetts driver’s license, copy of current vehicle registration, copy of valid Massachusetts photo ID, copy of a valid passport, W-2 form dated within the past year, or excise tax bill dated within the past year.
  • If the student lives with someone other than the parent, the following conditions must be met:
  • A notarized statement indicating the student is living at a valid address within the school district with the name of the owner or renter of the property.
  • A statement naming the adult who should be contacted for school business such as absences and emergencies.
  • The parent and or guardian named in these statements must be present at the registration.
  • The notarized statement must be completed and presented prior to registration.
  • State law mandates that public schools must enroll students who live in their district, but the law clearly indicates that students not claim residency for the sole purpose of attending its schools. In cases where legal guardianship is involved, a copy of the court record of guardianship should be provided.
  • All students must provide proof of immunizations and a release form must be signed to enable J. R. Briggs Elementary to receive prior school records. A copy of the student’s birth certificate must be presented at the time of registration
  • An updated Emergency Information form is kept on file in the nurse’s office. This information provides the school with emergency contact and medical history information.
  • All new students must provide a completed Home Language Survey.
For admission to kindergarten, a child must be five (5) on or before August 31st. The staff, prior to placement, will evaluate any child who completed kindergarten outside of the Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District who is not age five (5) by August 31st. A family moving to Ashburnham with a child who does not meet the cutoff date, but who has attended kindergarten elsewhere for six (6) weeks may enroll the child in kindergarten. The child will be evaluated on an equal standing with his/her peers. A yearly orientation program is held in the spring prior to September for all students and their parents entering kindergarten. 
Absences, Tardiness and Truancy
Regular attendance and on-time arrival are essential to sequential learning and necessary for satisfactory student progress. Students improve academic performance with improved attendance. It is important that students are punctual and attend school each day. When an absence is unavoidable due to illness, bereavement, medical appointments, religious reasons or other family emergencies, the parent is expected to inform the school by phone, the day of the absence.
Please call the school 978-827-5750, press 3, to call your child out absent. Also, you can email the JRB office if your child is absent at [email protected]. The phone system is available to receive absent phone calls 24 hours a day. The office staff is available 7:30 am-3:30 pm; at 978-827-5750 press #1170 or #1171.
Definition of Excused Absence: absence due to illness with doctor’s/nurse’s verification, bereavement, medical, dental, or legal appointment, and religious observances.
Definition of Unexcused Absence: absence without doctor/nurse verification, vacation, tardy after 11:30AM or dismissal prior to 11:30AM. A student is considered truant if the absence is unexcused.
If the school is not notified before the school day starts, the school nurse will attempt to reach parents/guardians or emergency contact to verify the student’s absence. This is done as a safety check to ensure each student’s well being. Also, the Ashbunrham Police Department School Resource Officer along with school staff may make a well-child check to ensure the safety of the student if there is no communication from a child/ren’s parent/guardian to the school regarding a student’s absence.
If parents are unable to make phone contact, a written note from the parent/guardian must be brought to school on the first day of the student’s return to school. It is the student’s responsibility to make up all assignments, projects, and tests missed during the absence.
Any student who arrives at 8:30AM or later is considered tardy and must report to the office.
In cases of extended absences and/or serious medical problems, the school may provide home tutoring for students who are unable to attend school because of a  long-term illness or injury. If a student is out of school for more than 20 consecutive days, s/he may qualify for tutorial services. A doctor’s written request is required. Arrangements may be made through School Administration.
Extended absences for the sole purpose of extending a vacation period are discouraged. Students will be responsible for missed academic work upon their return to school. School work will not be provided for these students prior to their vacation.
Unexpected absences are those that do not conform to excused reasons. This includes any absence without a valid note. A student will be considered truant if the absence is unexcused.
The academic success of our students is directly related to their daily attendance. Parents will receive written notification throughout the school year if their child’s absences, tardiness, or early dismissals may affect their progress in school, and will become part of the student record.
Dismissal from School
Early dismissals are discouraged. Parents are urged to schedule doctor, dentist, or other appointments outside the school hours, on school holidays or during vacation time. No student will be dismissed until the responsible school official is assured that the child is being released by request of a parent/guardian or other authorized adult for sufficient reasons.
On the day of dismissal, the parent/guardian must send a note to the school office indicating the time of dismissal and who will pick-up the child. No student will be dismissed to anyone except the parent/guardian or authorized adult. The parent/guardian must notify the school office of such authorization before the student can be dismissed.
The parent/guardian or authorized adult must report to the school office upon arrival to pick-up the student. No student will be released to meet a parent elsewhere on school grounds.
Withdrawal/Transfer Procedure
When a student transfers from John R. Briggs School to another school system, the office and the student’s teacher need to be notified at least two days prior to the transfer. A “Records Request” form will be sent to our school once the student has been enrolled in the new school system.
No School Announcements and Delayed Openings
No School announcements and delayed openings due to hazardous weather conditions will be made as early as possible. Parents may access this information on the district website: www.awrsd.org or through local television and radio stations:
WCVB Channel 5 TV FOX 25 TV WBZ Channel 4 TV WHDH Channel 7 TV
They will also be notified through Rediker, our automated telephone/email/text service.  Parents/guardians are asked to notify the school’s main office if they are not receiving messages from the automated telephone services.
Unexpected School Closings
In the event that school is to be dismissed early because of storm conditions or for reasons of an emergency nature, children will take their usual means of transportation home. Parents should discuss with their child an emergency plan in case no parent or guardian is home at the time of the dismissal.
Parents will be notified through Rediker, our automated telephone service of unexpected school closings. It is the parents/guardian to contact the school if they are not receiving messages from the automated telephone services.
In the event of an unexpected school closing, AWRSD Extended Day will close one-half hour after the emergency closing.

The following suggestions are provided so parents can develop a plan for their child if there is an emergency dismissal:
  • Set up a phone chain among friends or classmates’ parents.
  • Develop a cooperative neighborhood plan.
  • Keep a list of phone numbers and instructions conveniently near the telephone.
  • Listen to the radio or television when there is a chance of severe weather.
  • Do not call the schools, police, etc., as these lines need to be kept open for emergencies.
Building Evacuation
In the event that we must evacuate the school during school hours the following procedure will be activated:
• Principal/Asst. Principal or Designee will oversee the safe evacuation of their school
• The following will be the evacuation points for the J. R. Briggs Elementary School:
Primary: Briggs to Oakmont
Secondary: Briggs to Cushing Academy
Every effort will be made to dismiss the students from these locations at the regularly scheduled time via bus transportation. Parents will be notified if students must be dismissed in any other format.

Building Security
We make every effort to ensure our students have a safe and secure environment in which to learn. To this end, all exterior doors to the building are locked while school is in session. Visitors must be “buzzed in” through our main entrance and report directly to the office area. If seeking entrance to the school after school hours, visitors must 
check in at Extended Day; this includes chorus, music lessons, tutoring, play rehearsal, etc.  Parents ARE NOT ALLOWED to admit anyone through the front door after school hours; it is imperative that all visitors enter through the front door of the school so we know who is in the building from 6:30AM-6:00PM. During school hours, ALL visitors and volunteers must report to the office to sign in and obtain a visitor badge. Visitors must sign out and badges be returned before leaving the school building.
The preschool doors will be opened and monitored by a JRB staff member from 8:40AM-8:50AM and from 11:10AM-11:20AM. If you arrive after these times to drop off or pick-up of your preschool student, you will need to use the main entrance of the building and sign-in with the front office staff. Your child will be escorted by a JRB staff member to his/her classroom and/or could go down to the classroom by him/herself.

School Visitors
All visitors are welcome. Please confirm your visit with your child’s teacher and the secretaries or administration at the front desk for the safety of the students. This policy is not to discourage parental involvement in the school but to ensure the safety of all children on school grounds.
Policy for Visitors – Notice of Confidentiality
All visitors are required to “sign in” at the office when visiting our school for any purpose. “In the event that while visiting the school, a visitor obtains personally  identifiable or confidential information. The visitor will not disclose it, except when it is the information of the student being evaluated, in which case it will be used consistent with the parent’s authority and direction.” All visitors must wear a visitor’s badge and will be required to return to the main office if one is not visible.
JRB Early Release Days – 11:50AM Dismissal Scheduled Half Days for 2021-2022 School Year:
October 21st, November 24th, December 7th, January 24th, March 9th, June 54h, and the last day of school June 11th (if no school cancellations).
There are several days identified during the school year as early release days. Parents will be notified of these days by the school calendar, the weekly parent newsletter and JRB & AWRSD webpages. Students will take their usual means of transportation home unless the school is notified of a change by the parent or guardian. No medications will be given after dismissal and lunches are not served on these days.

Notices (Handouts)
School to home communication is conducted mainly through email and some handouts delivered by your child. Notices are sent home periodically and may require a parent/guardian signature, so please check with your child daily for handouts. The Briggs Main Office utilizes electronic handouts/school communication via parents’ email unless a parent indicates they would like paper copies. Classroom teachers will continue to send home some information via paper copies but also utilize parents’ email addresses. Also, we will make every attempt to put all handouts on the school’s webpage. It is the parents’ responsibility to update their contact information with the office. Typically, there is a parent email and informational flyers sent home to parents 2 to 3 times a month. If you do not receive any communication from the school please confirm with the office that your contact information is correct.
Phone Calls
The office staff will be pleased to help with problems or answer questions concerning school. You may call the office at any time between 7:30AM and 3:30PM Monday through Friday for assistance. The main office number is 978-827-5750, ext. #1170 or #1171.
Parents wishing to speak with a teacher should call the school at 978-827-5750 to access the staff directory for the teacher’s extension. Please follow the directions below.
  • Dial the school at 978-827-5750
  • As the prompt begins press 4
  • Then enter first three letters of the teacher’s and/or staff member’s last name
  • You will be given the teacher and/or staff member’s voice mailbox number to enter
  • You will be sent to the teachers’ and/or staff member’s voice mail to leave a message or he/she may answer the phone directly*
*If you are calling outside of teaching hours (8:15AM-3:20PM), the staff member may answer directly. However, if you are calling within teaching hours you will only receive voicemail. If it is imperative that you speak with someone immediately, call the main office.
Parents wishing to communicate with our staff are invited to utilize our email system. (i.e. [email protected] – John Smith- [email protected]
Notes from Parents
Written notes are required from parents in the following situations:
  • If phone contact has not been made with the office when your child has been absent or is late for school.
  • When your child is to be dismissed prior to end of the school day, or
  • When your child will be picked up after school by someone else other than their usual transportation.
Birthday Invitations
It has been the school’s policy to prohibit the practice of the distribution of birthday or party invitations. There are several reasons for this posture, many of which are legal in nature. The overriding issue is that too many children experience significant hurt when they are not invited to parties. School is definitely not a place where children should have to be subjected to such embarrassment and/or discomfort in front of peers. Invitations should be handled outside of school.
Classroom Birthday Parties
Due to impending state initiatives and the increasing number of allergies in the school district, we will not be celebrating individual birthdays with items sent in from home. Goodie bags or other items (including food or nonfood items) or deliveries from florists will not be distributed. Individual teachers may recognize birthdays in a grade appropriate fashion.
Valuable Items / Electronics
We recognize that parents provide their children with cell phones and smart watches for safety reasons. Therefore, we understand that students may occasionally bring these devices to school.
  • Cell phones must remain turned off and turned in to the office for the day. 
  • Smart watches must have text and call settings turned off during school hours.
Students are not to call, text, or message their family members or peers during the school day. If students need to reach a family member, they can use one of the phones in the main office. Students may also not photograph or take videos of any staff members or other students in and outside of the building or on the bus. You can help us enforce this policy by not texting your children and calling/answering their calls during the school day.
If a student should bring any electronic device, cell phone, or multi-media device etc. to school, JRB is not responsible for any lost or stolen items.
Cell phones and smartwatches that are being used to make calls, text (family or peers) or play games during the day will be confiscated. Parents will be asked to pick up the device from school.
Parent Complaint Resolution Procedure Policy
Whenever there is difference of opinion or complaint, the philosophy of the Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School is to resolve all problems at the point closest to that issue. Please refer first to the staff person with whom the problem exists. The professional staff should be given every opportunity to consider the issues and attempt to resolve the problem prior to the involvement of higher levels of administration or the AWRSD School Committee.
All complaints will be respectfully acknowledged at each level of discussion, including a summary of resolution or next steps.
The proper channeling of complaints involving instruction, discipline or learning materials will be as follows:
1. Staff Member
2. School building administrator (Principal, Vice Principal)
3. Superintendent
4. School Committee

Please see Appendix K, PUBLIC COMPLAINT POLICY, in this handbook to view the district’s entire policy connected to Public Complaints that specifically identifies the steps to be followed by all parties involved.
Lost and Found
Most lost and found items are located in the lobby area. Several times per year items are put on display in the lobby area near the main entrance. Periodically throughout the school year all unclaimed items are donated to charity. Please label your child’s items.

School Hours:
Kindergarten: – Grade 5 8:30AM - 2:50PM
Preschool:  8:45AM-11:10AM  and 12:00PM-2:30PM
Half Day Hours: for kindergarten-Grade 5: 8:30AM-12:00PM; dismissal beginning at 11:50AM.

Students should not arrive before 8:20AM unless they are enrolled in the Extended Day Program. There is no supervision before this time. Upon entering the building, at 8:20AM students should go directly to their classroom.

Any student arriving after 8:30AM must check in with the office staff, and will be recorded as tardy.
At this time the library is not staffed, so we are not able to provide a check-out system yet. We hope to develop a parent led volunteer group to staff the library as the year progresses.
Outdoor Recess
Outdoor recess is a vital part of a school’s program and all able children must participate. If your child is not well enough to go outside at recess, your child should not attend school. If special conditions exist, preventing participation in the activities at outdoor recess, a physician’s note is required for the child to attend school and remain inside. For the safety of all students, certain items are prohibited from playground use, i.e. wooden bats, lacrosse sticks, hockey sticks, hardballs, etc.
Clothing Guidelines
Students are expected to be neat, clean, and respectful so as not to interfere with the learning of children. Clothing should be appropriate for the type of weather they may encounter throughout the school day. Please mark school outerwear and any clothing that may be taken off (coats, sweaters, etc.) with an identifying mark. Outside clothing, including hats, coats, jackets or sunglasses must be kept in storage areas (cubbies).  During winter months, students must wear boots and snow pants to play in the snow. An extra pair of shoes should be provided so the children can take off their boots after recess. In addition, please consider providing an extra pair of socks for your child. If you are in need of any clothing please contact the school and we will assist you.
Inclusive Preschool
The Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District has an integrated public preschool for children, ages 3-4 who require special education services, and those who do not. Community peers are a valued and integral part of our inclusive preschool program. Inclusion in preschool refers to including children with disabilities in early childhood programs together with their community peers without disabilities, holding high expectations and intentionally promoting participation in 
all learning and social activities facilitated by individualized accommodations and using evidence-based services and supports to foster child development in the areas of cognition, language, communication, physical, behavioral, and social-emotional, as well as fostering friendships with peers, and an overall sense of belonging. Instruction for all children is developmentally appropriate and aligned with the Massachusetts Guidelines for Preschool Early 
Learning Standards.
Each year, there are a limited number of tuition paying spots available for community peers. Please refer to the Inclusive Preschool Program Website for more information.

Kindergarten Information
Typical Kindergarten Day – Students have the following activities during the day:
  • Meeting Time with group – includes greeting, conversation, game, calendar activities, math questions, story time, and language activities.
  • Table Time – reading, language, math, science, and social studies activities.
  • Snack – child should bring one snack and drink from home. Packaging should be easy for a child to open.
  • Lunch in the cafeteria – students can purchase or bring their own lunch.
  • Recess Time – inside or outside (depending on weather) Dress appropriately for weather
  • Rest/Quiet Time – opportunity for quiet story or rest time
  • Choice Time – students choose from our centers in the room, this is also a time for individual and/or small group work.
  • Special Subjects – students will participate in art, music, gym, and library/tech.
Useful Information:
  • Kindergarten entrance age: Five years of age by August 31st.
  • Kindergarten Screening occurs during the first week of the school year.
  • Kindergarten classes begin the second week of school.
  • Kindergarten Orientation: Usually takes place in may prior to enrollment; morning event for incoming potential kindergarten students and parents.
  • School Hours: 8:30AM– 2:50PM
    Parent Drop off: 8:20AM-8:30AM at entrance behind the school and parents remain in their cars and 
    drop off their child
  • Parent Pick up: 2:50PM at entrance behind the school and parents remain in their car and their child will
  • Early Dismissal:nn11
Lunch: $2.75 per day. (Subject to change)
We cannot stress strongly enough the need to pre-pay your kindergarten student’s lunch money if your child will be purchasing a school provided daily lunch. An on line payment and monitoring system is also available through the AWRSD website www.awrsd.org You select the number of pre-pay lunches and make checks payable to: J. R. Briggs Elementary – Café. Our cafeteria manager will keep you informed when your child’s funds are running low. Kindergarten has its own designated lunch and recess period with adult supervision.
Rest/Quiet Time
As part of the Kindergarten day, your child will be having a rest/quiet time each afternoon. He/she will need their own beach towel to rest on and a separate carrying bag for the towel with their name on both.
Lost and Found
Please label your child’s belongings. Lunch boxes, sweatshirts, mittens, and sometimes jackets all look the same to young children. If your child’s name is on the item, we will do our best to return lost items.
Please see Appendix L for district policy regarding homework. The JRB homework policies reflect the core components of the district’s policy. Homework refers to work assigned by a teacher to be completed by the student outside of class time. Homework is intended to provide an opportunity for integrating home and school experiences.
The goals of our homework program are:

✵ to encourage shared responsibility of parents, students and teachers
✵ to reinforce skills through appropriate assignments
✵ to create a positive home-school connection
✵ to extend literacy into the home
Responsibilities of Parents
Promote a positive attitude toward homework and reinforce its value by:
Establishing a consistent homework routine that includes a quiet work environment with appropriate supplies and materials
✵ Clarifying directions
✵ Fostering pride in the completed task
✵ Communicating with teachers regarding questions and difficulties of the assignment
Responsibilities of Students
✵ Receive assignments
✵ Ask teacher for clarification and/or help if assignment is not understood
✵ Show effort and do best work
✵ Return completed or partial assignments on time
✵ Inform teacher of any difficulty regarding the assignment and return it partially completed
Responsibilities of Teacher
✵ Communicate homework expectations to parents and students
✵ Ensure that assignments are connected to the curriculum and appropriate for students
✵ Create an environment where students are able to ask for clarification of assignments
✵ Provide feedback of homework in a timely manner
✵ Respond to parent concerns and keep parents apprised of homework issues

Parent Drop-off and Parent Pick-up
If you drive or pick-up your child at school please follow the guidelines below. This policy was 
created to ensure the safe drop-off and pick-up of all the students.
AM Drop-off
  • Please use the driveway closest to the preschool building and drive around the back of the school
  • Once in the rotary please pull up to the top of the circle, wait until JRB staff is available to supervise student drop-off then have your child get out of the car on the passenger side so he/she can walk into the school lobby on his/her own and do not pull out of the rotary until the cars in front of you have pulled away
  • Please pull out as quickly as possible so another group of parents can park in the rotary. Do not pass the car in front of you and exit the rotary in the order you 
  • Please teach your child how to get out of his/her car seat independently, zip his/her bags and 
    give your final hugs and kisses at home
  • Students can start to be dropped off at 8:20AM and continue to 8:30AM; any child that arrives at school after 8:30AM will be marked tardy. We are asking parents to drop-off their child at the door and not wait with them in the lobby. Students dropped off prior to 8:20AM must go to Extended Day.
PM Pick-Up
  • Dismissal for parent pick-up should begin at 2:50PM but please know this schedule will vary in the beginning of the school year as the students and staff adjust to the new dismissal procedure
  • Please use the driveway closest to the preschool building and drive around the back of the school
  • Parents will be provided with a sign that must be posted in the front passenger side visor with your child’s last name on it
  • Pull into the rotary, park alongside the sidewalk and remain in your car. The first car should stop at the sign at the top of the circle.
  • Your child will walk out to your vehicle so please do not get out of your car and it is helpful if your child can independently get into his/her car seat
  • Do not pull out of the rotary with your child/ren until a JRB staff has indicated it is safe to proceed
  • If you are waiting to pull into the rotary please remain in your car on the side of the road and be prepared to pull into the rotary when the other cars have pulled away
  • Do not pass any cars in the line or pull ahead of anyone who is waiting to pick up their child/ren