Regular school attendance and being on time are very important and legally required in the State of Georgia. When students are absent they miss important instructional opportunities that are often difficult to make up after the fact. For this reason, we strongly encourage good student attendance.
Student absences are either excused or unexcused. The following are valid absence excuses:
- Student personal illness
- A death or serious illness in the student’s family
- Absences mandated by a court order
- Absences related to hazardous conditions
- Absences related to voting
- A recognized religious holiday observed by your faith
For each absence, a doctor’s note, email, phone call or written note from the parents must be brought to school the following day. The clinic worker, counselor or teacher may call when students are absent. If you have questions as to whether or not an absence is excused, please check with your child’s teacher or an administrator. Attendance letters are automatically generated when a student accumulate 5, 7 and 10 unexcused absences. These letters are meant to remind parents of the legal requirement for regular school attendance and the importance of providing valid excuses for absences.
Recognizing that the school day begins with important teacher instruction, Mason Elementary has the following tardiness policy: Students are tardy if they arrive after 8:15 a.m. After a student has been tardy 3 times in a nine-week period, the teacher will call the parents to notify them of the late arrivals and encourage promptness. If the student is tardy 5 times in a nine-week period, a letter from the office will be sent home. This letter is to be signed by the parent and returned to school. A meeting will be held with the parent to develop a plan for prompt school attendance. Students who accumulate over 5 tardy marks will be eliminated from receiving a perfect attendance award. All students who are tardy must be accompanied by an adult and checked in at the front office.
Students whose absences fall under the excused category have one day for each day absent following the day they return to make-up work for grades. This is a minimum expectation. Teachers may lengthen the time based on the amount of work that the student needs to complete. A student should complete missed work when there is an unexcused absence so the student will not fall farther behind. All work used for grades must be completed by the student at school. If the child is absent 2 or more days, the parent may call the school and request make-up work. Please work with your child’s teacher to coordinate the picking up of assignments. In general, children too sick to be at school are too sick to work on assignments at home. Students who are absent 10 or more days may be eligible for homebound instruction. Please talk with a counselor, administrator, or your child’s teacher to arrange this.
Celebration of birthdays will be observed by allowing parents to provide a snack for the class. No birthday favors (i.e. balloons, hats, trinkets, etc.) will be allowed. Parents should bring the birthday snacks in the morning and leave them for the teacher to fit into the daily schedule. The snack should be ready to serve, require no cutting, refrigeration, etc. and should not include drinks. We ask that no party invitations be given out in class unless all children receive an invitation. The lunch period is a good time to schedule these snacks so they will not be eaten in the classroom.
Students will follow the directions of the driver at all times. Students will safely wait for, board and exit the bus only at their assigned bus stops. Students will look for traffic and wait for the driver’s signal to cross the road in front of the bus. Students will remain properly seated at all times. Students will keep hands, head, arms, and legs away from the windows and confined to their own seat area. Students will talk quietly. Loud voices, profanity, radios, cell phones or CD players are not permitted. Students will not eat, drink, chew gum or bring tobacco products on the bus. Students will not bring animals, glass objects, or items too big to hold (such as posters and other class projects) on the bus. Students will help keep their bus clean and in good safe condition.
Cell Phone - Telephone Use:
Children may use the school telephones only when absolutely necessary with the teacher’s written permission. Children should not be permitted to use the telephone for forgotten assignments or materials.
Student cell phones are discouraged. However, if you as the parent feel one is necessary for the safety of your child (i.e. going home alone in the afternoon) we will support your decision if the student follows these guidelines: The cell phone must be kept in the book bag or out of sight and turned to the silence setting or off during school hours. The cell phone is not to be used during school time. If a student cell phone is lost, the school is not responsible for the loss of the phone. Students who do not follow these guidelines will have cell phones taken from their possession. A parent will need to pick up the cell phone from the office.
Mason is a “Bring Your Own Device School.” Students who have completed the appropriate BYOD steps and consulted with their teacher regarding BYOD rules and expectations may use cell phones, tablets and laptops for instructional purposes only. These should not be used on the school bus and are the sole responsibility of the user.
Change of Address or Phone:
For emergency purposes, we must have updated information on each student. Please call the school or notify us in writing of any changes of address or phone numbers.
We encourage parents to visit school. For the safety of our children, all visitors must check in and out through the office and wear a visitor’s badge while in the building. Parents should not escort children to the classroom or make unscheduled teacher visits to the classroom in the morning or during the school day. To protect instructional time, parents should notify the teacher at least one day in advance if they would like to make a classroom visit. Classrooms visits should be limited to 45 minutes or less. The teacher may ask the parent to reschedule a classroom visit if the time requested by the parent will be disruptive to the learning environment.
A clinic worker will be in the clinic during the hours children are in attendance. She is available to care for children in cases of illness or accidents occurring during school and to administer medication as required by a doctor. Prescription medication should be brought to school in the original container with the instruction label attached. (Ask your pharmacist for two bottles; one for home and one for school).Both prescription and over-the-counter medication cannot be administered without a signed medication request form obtained by the clinic. No unlabeled medication will be administered under any circumstances. Medication will not be administered on a continuing basis except with a prescription. We want to discourage students from dependence on over-the-counter medications except when they are related to a specific short-term illness. It is the responsibility of the parent to inform the school of any changes and to update the medication form. For the safety and security of all, a student should never bring medication to school.
If your child has a fever of 100 degrees, you will be notified that your child needs to go home. The county policy requires that students be fever free for 24 hours before returning to school. A child who has been vomiting should remain home until symptoms have been absent for 24 hours. Children who are vomiting at school need to be picked up.
Children with lice must be picked up and may not return to school until proof of treatment is provided. If a child becomes ill during school hours, parents are expected to make arrangements to have the child removed from the school as soon as possible. Parents without transportation and working parents should make arrangements for this possibility early in the school year. A sick child cannot be transported by school bus. Please keep all contact phone numbers updated.
Custody and Legal Issues:
No verbal proof of legal custody will be accepted. The custodial parent must provide a written document from the divorce decree concerning custody rights. It is illegal for custody exchanges to be made at school. The school will require verification of right of custody from anyone requesting early dismissal of a student.
Clothing worn needs to follow these guidelines. Student dress should not cause any distraction from the instructional program. Students are encouraged to dress appropriately for the school setting, suitable to the weather conditions, and in good taste. Short shorts or halter/crop tops are not considered appropriate for school. Shorts should be not more than 2 inches from the knee. Hats, bandanas, and sweatbands should not be worn in school. This does not include religious head coverings or head coverings worn for medical reasons. Students should not wear any clothing that advertises alcoholic beverages, drugs or violence. Students should wear shoes that allow for safe play at outside time and PE class. This means no flip-flops. Girls should not wear heavy make up to school.
Early Dismissal/Picking a Child up at School:
A student may be dismissed before the school day officially ends only when a parent or guardian, or a person designated on the student’s enrollment card, comes in person to the office to request the student’s early dismissal. The school staff will require verification of right of custody and a picture I.D. from anyone requesting early dismissal of a student. We cannot take any early dismissal pick up changes over the phone! The last hour of school is a critical time for instruction. We ask for your cooperation in limiting early checkouts to emergency situations only from 1:00 to the end of the day. Do not plan to check students out after 2:00 p.m.
Emergency Security Plan:
Mason has an emergency security plan that includes lock down procedures and an emergency evacuation plan. We recognize every crisis cannot be anticipated; however, this plan provides increased security & staff awareness. The plan is reviewed with the staff twice per year. Students will practice lock down procedures with their teachers at least once a year.
Birth Certificates: All students entering school for the first time must present an official copy of the birth certificate at the time of registration. Children must be five years old on or before September 1 to enroll in kindergarten. Students must be six years old on or before September 1 to participate in the first grade program. Students coming from other states and countries should bring appropriate documentation of previous grade placement if possible.
Before official enrollment, all students entering a Georgia school must have on file an official Georgia Department of Human Resources Certificate of Immunization. These certificates may be secured from local physicians or the County Health Department. Parents may request a waiver of these immunizations for religious reasons.
Hearing, Vision and Dental Certificates: All students entering school for the first time must present a certificate of ear, eye and dental examination by the health department, a physician and/or dentist licensed by the state of Georgia.
Social Security Cards: At the time of initial enrollment, a Social Security Number will be requested for each student in accordance with Georgia Code 20-2-150. Social Security Numbers are not required for enrollment. The parent/guardian may choose not to provide the number by signing a written waiver.
Address Verification: Parents must provide two forms for verification of the current address. Acceptable forms of verification include a contract to purchase a home, a lease, water, gas or electric bill. School officials must require the parent or guardian to provide proof of residency in the district and attendance zone at the time a student is initially enrolled in a school. If questions arise at any time the child is enrolled at Mason concerning a child’s residence within the school’s attendance zone, additional documentation will be requested.
Fire and Tornado Drills:
Fire and tornado drills are held each month during the school year. Students are instructed in safety rules, taught the evacuation routes (primary and secondary ones) that should be used and given the opportunity to practice the procedures each month. Maps are posted in each classroom as well as common areas that give evacuation routes. Each classroom teacher maintains a red emergency bag that contains an updated class roster and emergency contact information. Portable classrooms have a Weather Buddy classroom inside the building that is used to provide safe harbor during extreme weather conditions. The clinic worker also maintains a secure emergency cart that has needed first aid supplies and medications.
Grading- Reporting to Parents:
Teachers will report student progress in several ways. Parent Progress Reports go home twice during the semester with a report card coming home at the end of each semester. Scheduled parent conferences are held twice per year with additional parent conferences scheduled as needed. Teachers will send home graded student work in the Friday Folder. Other work will be kept in a portfolio to be shared with students and parents during conferences. The Friday Folder and agenda will report academic progress and behavior. Parents may review much of a student’s information, including grades, by accessing the Parent Portal online. It is suggested that parents access the Portal at least twice a week. Please talk with your child’s teacher if you have questions about grading.
Homework is one way to provide students with more time and opportunity to practice, extend, and apply new skills. Homework will be assigned nightly Monday through Thursday for 10–50 minutes depending on the age of the child (kingergarten-10 minutes, first grade – 15 minutes, second grade - 20 minutes etc.). Homework does not include nightly expectations for reading. Grades 2-5 use an assignment book to help communicate curriculum assignments. It is the student’s responsibility to remember to take all necessary items home. Students will not be allowed to reenter the building after school to retrieve materials for homework.
Ice cream will be sold daily in the cafeteria for $1.00. Assemblies or other special events held in the cafeteria may necessitate the cancellation of ice cream sales. Kindergarten students can purchase ice cream on Fridays only.
Lost and Found:
Please label all items brought to school. Unclaimed items such as book bags, coats, etc. will be placed in the Lost and Found. Smaller more valuable items (such as glasses, jewelry, etc.) will be turned in to the office. You are encouraged to check these two places for missing items. Should items not be claimed after 30 days, they will be donated to a charitable organization. Students should not bring large sums of money, toys, expensive jewelry or hand held electronic items to school. The security of these items cannot be guaranteed and can be disruptive on the bus and in the classroom.
The media center is open daily for individual and class use. Teachers are encouraged to actively and regularly engage their students in a variety of media activities, which support pleasure reading, research and instructional objectives. Students are given a 10 school day loan term. Overdue notices are provided weekly. According to Board policy (P.JRA), students will be unable to check out additional books or resources until restitution is made for lost books and will be required to reconcile any overdue books before receiving their progress/report cards.
For the safety of our students and staff, Gwinnett County policy requires that all persons visiting in the school sign in at the office and wear an identification tag. All visitors should enter the school through the front door. The front parking lot is available for parent parking. For the safety of all students, please do not drop students off in the front lot while the car rider lane is open. If a student needs to enter the front door between 7:45 - 8:10, he or she must be accompanied into the school by a parent. Please do not park in the front drive. Please note that it is a posted no parking zone. You are subject to ticketing or towing from the police department if you park in the front drive area. Do not park in the back driveway near the kitchen as delivery trucks and trash pickup trucks use that drive.
Peachtree Ridge Cluster Schools:
Cluster school members include all elementary and middle schools that feed into our one cluster high school, Peachtree Ridge High School. We have seven schools in our cluster. Cluster member principals meet monthly to plan activities and share ideas to promote the cluster community. The seven cluster schools are: Hull Middle, Burnette Elementary, Jackson Elementary, Mason Elementary, Northbrook Middle, Parsons Elementary and Peachtree Ridge High School. Dr. Mary Kay Murphy is the Peachtree Ridge Cluster’s Board of Education member.
Please do not bring any personal pets to school. Many students and adults have allergies to pets or have a significant fear of animals. Teachers are permitted to have classroom pets as long as there are no student allergies. The teacher will send home a permission form before the pet is established in the classroom. Pets should not be a learning distraction. Please talk with your child’s teacher about any concerns.
In the event of severe weather or mechanical problems at the school, the starting time of a school may be delayed or closed. Announcements will be made over radio stations WSB and WLAW. Reports in the morning will be between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m. If no report is heard, school will be in session. The same conditions may necessitate early dismissal. Please do not call the school. Telephone lines must be kept open for emergencies.
The official school hours for Mason are 8:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. daily. Gwinnett County Public Schools do not provide before school care. Students may enter the building at 7:45 each morning. Teachers are not available to care for early arriving students. Please arrange day care or a neighbor’s help if your children will not be riding the bus or brought at 7:45. If you bring your children to school in the mornings, you will need a car rider number (obtained from the front office or during registration) and students can only be dropped off at the car drop-off area (side drive way area) between 7:45 and 8:10. Please do not allow your children to get out of the car at any other location than those monitored by staff members. All car riders should be picked up by 3:00 each afternoon. Please remember adult staff members have duties involving planning and required meetings from the time they arrive each morning until the time students enter the building at 7:45. To ensure student safety, an adult must be assigned to be with students any time they are in the building.
All classrooms offer a daily snack time. Snacks should be healthy finger food items. No drinks are permitted except water. Students should not have hard candy or gum at school. This is a safety issue. No gum chewing is permitted at school. Fast food is not permitted in the cafeteria. Check with your child’s teacher if you have questions about healthy snacks.
Parents have certain rights with respect to student educational records pursuant to the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). These rights transfer to the student when the student reaches the age of eighteen (18) or attends a school beyond the high school level. These rights are summarized below:
The right to inspect and review student educational records maintained by the school;
The right to challenge the contents of the student educational records; The right to notice what information the school has designated as directory information and a reasonable time after such notice to inform the school that the designated information should not be released without prior consent;
The right for student educational records (other than directory information) to only be released upon written consent to any individual, agency, or organization such as: (a) other school officials within the local educational agency with legitimate educational interests (b) following notification, other school systems in which the student seeks to enroll; (c) specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes; (d) in connection with the student’s application for financial aid; (e) state and local officials pursuant to State law; (f) organizations conducting studies on behalf of the school; (g) accrediting organizations (h) parents of a dependent student as defined in section 152 or Title 26 (i) in connection with an emergency if necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other persons; and (j) in compliance with judicial order or pursuant to any lawfully issued subpoena when the educational agency provides proper notification in advance of the compliance.
Parents and students are notified they have the right to expect privacy in educational records. Accordingly, only school system staff, their agents, representatives, and/or school consultants have access to student records on a discernable need to know basis. If educational records are requested or subpoenaed by others, parents or adult students will be notified.
The school district provides textbooks for all students in the district at no cost. Each student is obligated to give his/her books the best of care. Please keep books covered. They are to be used and not abused. Textbooks must be paid for if lost or damaged.
School transportation is offered to Gwinnett County students who live in the Mason attendance zone or who live in an area where walking is hazardous. School transportation is a privilege extended by the Board of Education; it is not a right. All students are required to obey bus conduct rules posted in each bus. These rules are to protect the safety & well-being of all students. Failure to observe these rules can result in suspension of bus privileges. Your child’s bus driver will go over these rules with your child the 1st week of school & will remind the students as needed but at least monthly.
Students are expected to be at the bus stop 10 minutes before the bus is due. Every effort is made to provide a seat for all riders. On occasion this may not be possible. When a route becomes overcrowded, it is divided. Should it become necessary to change an existing route, the parents are notified prior to implementing the change. Bus route information is available at your school. Your child will receive a bus tag from his/her teacher the first day of school. This tag needs to remain on the child’s book bag for the remainder of the year. If your child’s information changes, you will need to request a new tag.
The Zone Supervisor and Team Leaders assist the bus drivers with any student behavior concerns on the bus. In the case of minor infractions, parents will receive a phone call from the bus driver. If the inappropriate behavior continues a disciplinary referral is completed and turned into the school administrator. If the infraction warrants immediate action the phone call will be bypassed and the disciplinary referral is turned into the school administrator immediately for action. Bus drivers complete both classroom and road training before being assigned a route. The Gwinnett County school bus driver-training program far exceeds that required by the state to drive a school bus. Each school is assigned a team leader who is responsible for supervision of the buses in the area he/she serves and intervenes when there is any problem. Our bus supervisor is Sandra Williams. You may call her office at 678-473-6242.The Dispatch Customer Service line is 770-513-6686.
If transportation arrangements for students need to change on a given day, you must print, fill out and send in a copy of the Afternoon Transportation Change Form off of Mason’s website or send a written note to your child’s teacher and include the following information: your child’s name, your name, his/her usual transportation home, the new arrangements home, your signature and phone number.
We cannot accept requests by phone to alter arrangements. This will be strictly enforced! The school office will print a temporary bus pass for the child to use.
Parent volunteers are an integral part of the educational process. We are seeking mothers, fathers, grandparents, or other interested adults or community members who are willing to give of their TIME and TALENT to help out at school as a member of our parent volunteer group. We invite you to become a volunteer. Your participation as a volunteer supports our instructional program and school goals. Our students will reap the benefits. While no magic formula exists, the ideal volunteer demonstrates a love for children and is dependable, flexible, and dedicated to support the school in its efforts to educate each child to his or her highest potential. Our volunteers can work in the classroom to read to children, to help individual students with assignments, to help small groups of children play educational games, to make centers, bulletin boards, and activities, etc. Volunteers can also help in computer labs, the media center, art room, teacher workrooms and the gym. During the school year, we have several special programs for which volunteers are needed on a one-time basis (Book Fair, Field Day, etc.)
Parking for volunteers is in the large parking lot in front of the school. Volunteers should not bring preschool children to Mason when they work. It is distracting to instruction and learning. Please be certain to sign in using the computer log in system to print a name badge and to track the number of volunteer hours donated to the school.
Code of Ethics for Volunteers:
Classroom and student work is always confidential. Please don’t discuss student problems with anyone except the teacher.
Try not to compare children within the classroom.
Since there are as many different methods as there are teachers, please do not compare different methods of teaching. There is no one best way to do anything.
Work positively for the good of the school. Constructive criticism should be directed only to the supervising teacher or school administrator.
All volunteers are designated as Mandatory Reporters. If you have a specific concern regarding a student, please contact the school counselors or administrator.
Effective Ways to work with Children:
- Be warm and friendly. Learn the children’s names and show interest in what they are doing and telling you; you are very important as a listener.
- When working with children, encourage them to do their own thinking. Give them plenty of time to answer.
- Silence often means they are thinking and organizing what they want to say or write.
- If you don’t know an answer or if you are unsure what to do, admit it to the children and work it out together-feel free to ask the teacher for help when you need it.
- Use tact and positive comments. Encourage children and seek something worthy to compliment, especially when children are having difficulties (Catch them being good!)
- Accept each child as he or she is –you do not need to feel responsible for judging a child’s abilities, progress or behavior.
- Respect a child’s privacy-if a child reveals personal information regard it as a confidence.
- Maintain a sense of humor. Be consistent with the teacher’s rules for classroom behavior.
- Wear comfortable clothes and don’t hesitate to get down to a child’s level. Please do not wear shorts, tank tops or tennis skirts.
- If parents and friends ask you what you do at school, tell them you enjoy working with the children and discuss the activities you do rather that the specific information about a child or teacher.
How Children Learn:
Children learn by doing not be observing. Children learn by asking questions, and by searching for answers to their questions. They learn by discovery and experimenting. They learn by using all their senses when possible. They learn by sorting and combining objects and ideas. They learn by repeating experiences. They learn by building confidence in themselves. Children learn behavior by observing people they respect.
Thanks for your time and dedication to Mason Elementary students.