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SCES protocol changes for its arrivals, dismissals

Morning arrival and afternoon departure changes will be implemented this 2014-2015 year at Screven County Elementary School to strengthen staff and student safety and also make better use of valuable teaching time.
SCES principal Brett Warren, who has transferred to the elementary after 15 years as a SCHS administrator, received the backing of school board members Monday evening to amend the policy of escorting students to class in the a.m. and pickups of students in the p.m.
Warren talked with the SCES teachers first and then contacted 19 different elementary schools to hear their policies before presenting his change to the BOE. Both the teachers and other schools’ representatives denoted that changes are warranted.
Letters about the amendment will be sent the residences of the elementary school students as this year’s SCES handbook will not include the changes. The handbook instead has last year’s policy.
The morning alterations for the school that has pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students will include staff members outside, in the halls, and throughout the school to assist, supervise and monitor students.
The amended part is parents will be allowed to escort their pre-k, kindergarten and first and second grade students to class the first 10 days of the school year. Students in the third, fourth and fifth grades will need to walk to the class independently without parental or guardian escort after two days.
Upon 10 days into the school year on Aug. 15, all students will walk to classes without parental escort.
Warren said staff members will be available to assist students as they head to their respective classrooms.
Throughout the 2013-2014 school year, parents were allowed to escort students to classrooms up until 7:50 a.m. This 10 minutes before the day’s class was to start at 8 a.m. was not enough time, in some cases with the visitors, to give the students a smooth beginning to the class day.
Parents were then required to return their stick-on name tags at the front desk before exiting the main doors of the school. The name tag policy remains in effect this year.
“Beginning the first day of school, mornings and days are filled with instruction and learning activities,” Warren said. “Teachers are receiving students, preparing for the day, and are expected to begin instruction promptly.”
The 2014-2015 school term will have 172 days for students. That is two more days than the last four years’ 170 days as the number of school days were reduced to save on energy costs. However, 172 remains eight days fewer than the traditional 180.
For those parents who would like to speak with their children’s teachers, Warren encouraged the parents to email the teacher or leave a message for the instructor so an appointment can be made.
In the interest of safety for the afternoon pickups, parents and guardians will be required to remain with their vehicles going around the front circle of the school. Parents also may park their vehicles and walk up to front area to escort their children to the vehicles.
Warren said that dismissal is at 2:50 p.m. and the temperatures outside may be uncomfortable.
“We ask that you do not arrive before 2:15 p.m. for pickup,” Warren said. “No parents will be allowed in the building before school dismisses unless they are checking a student out early.”
In previous years, it was common to have parents at the school on the inside wooden benches in the afternoon.
“We had people sitting in the lobby waiting to get their children,” Warren said.
Warren said the other format has been successful for those parents who are picking up their children from the third, fourth and fifth grade side of the building. The school buses will continue to leave out from the back of the school on schedule.
Warren said open house will be from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 1, the Friday before school starts on Monday, Aug. 4. He said that is the best opportunity for parents and students to visit the school, locate classrooms, and meet the students’ teacher or teachers.
“We appreciate you and we appreciate your idea,” said Lindy Sheppard, school board chairman.