Pre-Kindergarten and Early Learning Center Family Handbook

Introduction

Vision

West Hartford Public Schools Early Childhood Program provides a nurturing climate which affords authentic experiences where children are actively engaged in meaningful constructive learning. A dedicated team of highly qualified professionals instruct through respectful interactions and implementation of teaching and learning that support young children’s development.

Mission

Our mission is to develop the character of young children and create a sense of wonder about their environment, culture and world. We seek to foster strong relationships with the children we serve and their families. We address the needs of the whole child preparing them to be life-long learners through developmentally appropriate experiences and research-based best practice.

Program Philosophy

The West Hartford Public Schools Early Childhood Education Department implements best practices in early childhood education. We believe in an inquiry-based, child-centered approach that promotes an environment and community that fosters intellectually, physically, and emotionally healthy learning and living (District Strategic Initiative 2.1)  Research, evidence based early childhood curriculum, such as Creative Curriculum, addresses the whole child with an emphasis on social and emotional development. We believe that children learn best through play-based, hands-on experiences that will foster students’ disposition to investigate and answer their own questions. We address learning standards and attend to each child’s skill progression within learning experiences driven by children’s queries and interests. We believe that families are a child’s first teacher and that partnering with families is a foundational practice to support young children’s development. Most importantly, we believe that all children can learn and grow.

Our goal is to help each child to:

  • Develop a positive self-identity, self-control, and a sense of belonging

  • Develop confidence as a learner by taking risks and learning from mistakes as well as successes

  • Develop skills to work effectively in a group with respect for social and cultural diversity

  • Use language to communicate effectively and to facilitate thinking and learning

  • Develop phonetic awareness; see and use the written word in meaningful ways

  • Represent ideas and feelings through the arts, play, and construction

  • Think critically, reason, and problem solve

  • Construct and acquire knowledge through exploration and discovery of materials

  • Gain knowledge of the care of their bodies to be able to maintain an appropriate level of health, hygiene and fitness

NAEYC Accreditation (National Association for the Education of Young Children)

We are proud that each Pre-Kindergarten program has achieved and maintained NAEYC accreditation. The high standards this association sets for its members guarantees we are providing a high quality educational experience for your child. We meet the requirements of over 250 criteria to receive program accreditation and maintain our accreditation status each year.

Non-Discrimination and Confidentiality Statements (F2)

The West Hartford Public Schools will not, except in the case of a bona fide occupational qualification or need, except as otherwise permitted or required by law, discriminate on the basis of race, color, religious creed, age, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, present or past promotion, discharge from employment or other terms and conditions of employment. All information about a student is considered confidential and is to be released only to authorized personnel.

*Codes embedded in this document refer to NAEYC and/or State of CT funding requirements, i.e. (G2)

 

Program Information for the Pre-Kindergarten Programs and the Early Learning Center Program

Introduction

The West Hartford Public Schools pre-kindergarten programs are designed to provide a high quality pre-kindergarten experience for children. The Charter Oak prekindergarten program accepts children who turn three or four years old on or before January 1st of the academic school year (F3). Smith and Webster Hill pre-kindergarten programs accept children who turn four years old on or before January 1st of the academic school year. The school hours for these three programs are as follows: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 8:35 a.m. - 3:20 p.m. and Wednesday from 8:35 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.  

The Early Learning Center (ELC) program at Whiting Lane and Aiken accepts students as typical peer models who turn three or four years old on or before October 15 of the academic school year. Students who qualify for their program through their IEP typically start by their third birthday or as determined through the PPT process. The school hours for the ELC are as follows: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. (typically prek 3) and Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 12:15 p.m. - 2:45 p.m (typically pre-k 4). There is no school on Wednesdays.  

All of the above pre-kindergarten programs follow the West Hartford Public School calendar.  (G12)

Teachers plan curriculum with goals for child learning. We use the Creative Curriculum for Preschool® and Teaching Strategies GOLD® for planning learning experiences, observing and documenting child progress, and implementing instructional strategies.  These tools are designed to assure that children develop the skills needed for a successful transition to kindergarten. Children are assessed throughout the year using the authentic assessment protocol provided within these tools. These assessments are then used to help guide teachers in planning experiences. In addition to their advanced degrees in teaching, learning and assessment, certified teachers receive specialized training in using these assessment tools. The Creative Curriculum and Teaching Strategies GOLD are aligned with the Connecticut Early Learning and Development Standards. (J1) 

Parents/guardians, teachers and staff evaluate the program annually. Surveys are distributed to all vested individuals assessing all aspects of the program. Surveys are reviewed and shared with administrators, teachers, staff and families. Concerns arising during the school year are considered on a need basis.  (J2)

Staffing

Each classroom is staffed with two adults at all times maintaining a 1:8 ratio. A 1:10 child to adult ratio is maintained at all times. A Master’s degree level teacher certified in early childhood education designs and develops curriculum and is supported by a paraprofessional trained in early childhood.  Students are with adults who have been certified in pediatric CPR and First Aid.

At the ELC, teachers certified in early childhood and special education design and develop curriculum and are supported by additional paraprofessionals and/or teaching assistants.

Clothing

Children should wear comfortable clothing to support their participation in hands-on discovery activities throughout the school day. Smocks are provided when children paint or engage in water-play. All children are required to leave an extra change of clothing in school. This should include shirt, pants, underwear and socks. Families should label all clothing with child’s name and place the items in a labeled, clear plastic bag. Children should wear secure footwear (no flip flops).

Outdoor play is an important part of our daily curriculum. Children will be going out most days and should dress accordingly. Winter gear is required to go on the playground once snow is on the ground. A jacket, snow pants, boots and mittens/gloves are required. We support young children with learning how to independently put on their snow gear. Please label all articles of clothing. It is easier for children to keep all their winter gear together when it arrives to school in a labeled bag.

Breakfast

A breakfast program is offered at elementary schools housing the pre-kindergarten programs. If a student is approved for free or reduced price lunch, they automatically receive free breakfast. All students can purchase breakfast.

Lunch

Children who attend a full-day pre-kindergarten program eat lunch in the cafeteria or the classroom, depending on the school they attend. They have the opportunity to either purchase food from the cafeteria, or may bring a lunch from home. They may purchase lunch using a pre-paid lunch card or cash. Meals brought from home should be packed in a labeled container with the child’s name and the date sent. Lunches from home should include a freezer pack to prevent spoiling. We do not have the capacity to heat up lunches from home. Applications for free or reduced-price lunch meals are available any time during the school year from the Nutrition Services Office or at www.whps.org/lunch. Free and reduced lunch benefits can only take effect once families submit paperwork to the Nutrition Services Office.

Snack

Each classroom teacher will ask families to either send in individual snacks or contribute to group snacks. We encourage all snacks to be nutritious and promote a healthy eating style. We ask that families confirm any food allergies by contacting their child’s classroom teacher prior to their first day of pre-kindergarten.

Feeding and Swallowing Policy (Includes allergies, health concerns, medical conditions)

WHPS Pre-kindergarten program follows the the CT State Department of Education Guidelines for Feeding and Swallowing Programs in Schools. Staff access the suggested state forms provided within the Guidelines document, when appropriate, to develop individual feeding plan. As part of the individual feeding plan for the student, the school based team must identify methods for: 

  • Documenting the type of food and quantity the child consumes

  • Providing this information to the child’s family 

Nutrition Services (D2, D3)

West Hartford Public Schools currently uses HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point). HACCP is a systematic preventive approach to food safety and pharmaceutical safety that addresses physical, chemical, and biological hazards as a means of prevention rather than finished product inspection. HACCP is used in the food industry to identify potential food safety hazards, so that key actions, known as Critical Control Points (CCP's) can be taken to reduce or eliminate the risk of the hazards being realized. The system is used at all stages of food production and preparation processes including packaging, distribution, etc.

West Hartford Public Schools also participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), a federally assisted meal program that provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children based on household income eligibility guidelines.

Toothbrushing

Pre-kindergarten aged students can have the opportunity to brush their teeth under the supervision of the school nurse after meals per parent request. This request must be coordinated between the classroom teacher, nurse and parent/guardian.

Nap/Rest

Children who attend a full-day program have a rest period in the afternoon. Children are assigned a rest mat for the school year. Families send in a freshly laundered sheet and blanket each Monday. The sheet and blanket are sent home each Friday to be washed. A special stuffed animal may also be sent to school. Quiet activities are available for students who do not rest.

Commitment to serve children with special needs (GI7) 

The term special needs includes a wide range of developmental delays and physical, emotional, or cognitive disabilities. It also includes children with serious, persistent challenging behaviors that place them at risk for later problems. Children with special needs are included in the regular pre-kindergarten program so that they can learn academics, social skills; respect for differences and empathy (Wolery & Wilbers 1994, Staub & Peck 1993, Hestenes & Carroll 2000).

Special Education Services provided (including age range of children) (GI1) 

Special Education services are available to students in both full school day programming at Charter Oak International Academy, Smith STEM School and Webster Hill School, and at the Early Learning Center (ELC) at Whiting Lane and Aiken Elementary schools. Special Education programs offer a continuum of services including:

  • consultation to parents and/or community-based preschools 

  • observations of preschoolers pertaining to one or more developmental areas of concern 

  • evaluations of preschoolers in one or more developmental areas of concern 

  • participation in the ELC program for eligible preschoolers 

A referral to special education can be made if a child's parent, teacher, pediatrician, or early childhood professional has raised concerns about one or more of the following areas, including but not limited to:

  • Speech/language development
  • Attention, focus, self-help skills
  • Cognitive/pre readiness development
  • Fine/gross/sensorimotor development  

Policy Information

Enrollment (GI3, F1)

PreK Programs at Charter Oak International Academy, Smith STEM, and Webster Hill

Families interested in enrolling their child in one of the pre-kindergarten programs at either Smith, Charter Oak, or Webster Hill Schools need to participate in the lottery process. The lottery process provides opportunities for families residing across town (neighborhood and magnet) to attend one of the West Hartford Public School Pre-Kindergarten programs. There are 80 seats for three- and four-year-old students at Charter Oak International Academy and 16 seats for four-year-olds at each Smith STEM and Webster Hill Elementary. Families must live in the Webster Hill neighborhood to apply to Webster Hill prekindergarten. Families residing anywhere in West Hartford may apply to either Charter Oak International Academy or Smith STEM School.

Applications for the lottery are available beginning in January of the year of anticipated entrance to school. An Open House is held at each school during this month to acquaint applicant families to the unique qualities of each program. The application process closes during the second week of March. The lottery is drawn and the classes are finalized by the third week of March. 

After a child has been accepted into one of the programs, families may choose to submit income verification documents to the business office. Tuition is determined according to the State of Connecticut sliding fee scale. Additional enrollment forms are required after a child has been accepted. 

Early Learning Center (ELC) Program at Whiting Lane and Aiken

Families of children who do not quality for the ELC program through special education services and are interested in enrolling their child in the prekindergarten program at the Early Learning Center (Whiting Lane and Aiken) may also enter a lottery process. There are 42 a.m. seats (generally prek age 3) and 42 p.m. seats (generally prek age 4). Families residing anywhere in West Hartford may apply. 

On-line applications for the lottery are available from September 1 until January 15. Children must turn three by October 15th of the upcoming prek age 3 year for a prek 3 seat and 4 by October 15th of the incoming school year for a prek 4 seat. A play-based screening occurs as part of the lottery process. Screenings occur during January and February. The ELC contacts parents regarding notification of an assigned screening date. The lottery is drawn post screening and families are notified by the third week of March. If all seats are not filled by the end of March, the online application becomes available again for the month of April and a second screening is scheduled for the beginning of May. Families that participate in the second lottery are notified by the first week in June.

Toilet Training (GI3)

Children registered for school are strongly encouraged to become toilet trained before entering the program in September. For children who have not completed their training, a planned approach will be developed for both school and home, collaboratively implemented by the child’s family and the teacher to ensure a consistent plan.  

Guidance and Discipline (GI8)

We believe that a challenging curriculum and warm, responsive teaching help create an atmosphere that reduces opportunities for negative interaction. Teachers use positive guidance to help children respect the rights and feelings of others in the classroom. The use of modeling strategies and guided questioning help children develop empathy for others. Children receive positive recognition when they compromise and cooperate with each other. Specific feedback is used when guiding children’s behavior. Through this approach, children learn to develop self-control, self-esteem and respect for the rights of others. If warranted, when a more challenging situation develops, a parent/teacher conference may be scheduled to collaboratively develop strategies.

Attendance

Students are encouraged to attend school with minimal absences to benefit as fully as possible from the education experience. If a child is absent from school, parents must contact the school office between 8:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. to report the absence and the reason for the absence.

Tuition (I1, I2, I3, I4, E1)

PreK Programs at Charter Oak International Academy, Smith STEM,  and Webster Hill

Parents are responsible for paying the required tuition by the first of every month.  If payment for the month is not received, the student will not be able to begin the next month.  In the event of unanticipated financial circumstances that impact the ability to pay, parents are expected to contact the business office to discuss the circumstances, and possibly adjust the tuition based on updated income verification.

Tuition payment should be mailed directly to the West Hartford Public School Business Office, 50 South Main Street, West Hartford, CT 06107 Attention: PreK Tuition. Tuition will be accepted in the form of a check or money order.

Tuition assistance is available on a sliding scale, using the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood School Readiness sliding fee scale. Employee pay stubs, tax returns, etc. are used to determine tuition fees based on the sliding scale. Fee determination is done twice a year (spring and winter). Once the tuition is calculated, it is reviewed with the parent/guardian. For more information about assistance with tuition, contact the West Hartford Public Schools Business Office at 860-561-6685. During the intake process, the school staff also discuss with families the need for health insurance, other supportive social work services, and GED/ESOL adult class offerings. (A1)

WHPS does not accept Care-4-Kids.

Withdrawal and Discharge from Charter Oak, Smith and Webster Hill

Families who withdraw their child after the opening day of school are entitled to a refund. The refund will be prorated to reflect the time spent in the program. The school reserves the right to cancel the enrollment of a child if tuition commitments are not met by the 10th of each month. Failure to submit all state required forms could result in removal from the pre-kindergarten program.

Early Learning Center Program (ELC) at Whiting Lane and Aiken

Families of children accepted into the program through the lottery process are required to provide a $50 deposit (to be applied towards first semester tuition) within 10 days of notification of acceptance into the program.  Families submit the remaining balance for the first semester by May 1st. The second semester balance is due by November 1st of the enrolled school year. Families may choose to pay for the full year upon entrance into the program and/or by May 1st when first semester payment is due. 

Tuition payment should be mailed directly to the Early Learning Center Office located at Whiting Lane School, 47 Whiting Lane, West Hartford, CT 06107; Attention Pam Macca. Tuition is accepted in the form of a check or money order. 

Withdrawal and Discharge from the ELC Program

Tution for the program is applied to program to support  materials fees and is non-refundable after the first day of school for each semester. To request a refund (less the deposit) prior to the first day of school, families must call The ELC secretary, Pam Macca, at 860-233-1455. The ELC reserves the right to cancel enrollment if tuition commitments are not met by the designated deadlines. Additionally failure to submit all state required forms could result in removal from the pre-kindergarten program.

 

Home-School Support and Communication

Home and School Partnership Initiatives (B2)

Relationships with our families is a priority. We use many ways to keep communication open between home and school. We have frequent conversations with family members through many formats, including but not limited to: drop off and pick up times, daily newsflashes (communication boards, wipe off boards, daily notes), newsletters (classroom, school/parent-teacher organization), Twitter or school website feeds, curriculum night, handbooks, schedules, visiting day, and cultural studies. Informational articles and flyers are distributed to support families in understanding school routines and the importance of safety and successful school drop off and transitions.

Drop-off and Pick-up Procedures

School staff and administrators establish drop-off and pick-up procedures to protect the safety of all pre-kindergarten students. School doors remain locked at all times. All visitors to the building must check in at the school office. During arrival and dismissal times, staff members on duty monitor entrances and exits. Students being picked up early or dropped off late need to go through the main office. Parents and/or legal guardians may drop off or pick up children from pre-k classrooms. Drop off and pick up times are opportunities for parents and teachers to share important day to day information as needed. As this transition time can be busy, parents are encouraged to set up a meeting time for any issues that require more than a brief exchange.

Pre-K Programs at Charter Oak, Smith, Webster Hill

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday: 8:35 a.m. – 3:20 p.m. and Wednesday: 8:35 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.  

ELC Programs at Whiting Lane and Aiken

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday: Session 1 9:00-11:30 a.m.; Session 2 12:15-2:45 a.m. or hours dictated per IEP

The parent or guardian may designate other adults as an “emergency contact.” The school requires the names and contact information for emergency contacts in the event a parent or guardian cannot be reached. On the occasion in which someone other than the parent/guardian or emergency contact is picking up a student, the parent/guardian must provide written permission. The person picking up the child is required to show legal proof of identification upon arrival at the school. These procedures also apply to students riding the bus.  Court documents must be provided to the administration in the event of custody disputes or restraining orders. Staff and administration reserve the right to hold a student in their custody if there is any suspected substance abuse on the part of the adult picking up.

Transportation

For students who qualify for transportation:

  • parents/guardians are required to assist their child getting on and off the bus (and into five-point harness if applicable) upon pick up and drop off

  • embedded in the program are multiple opportunities for communication for parents/guardians who may not see the classroom teacher on a daily basis at drop off and pick up. Parents/guardians of bus riders are encouraged to communicate via phone or email with their child’s teacher regarding day-to-day information.

Parent Visits (G15)

Families are always welcome to visit classrooms and, if desired, arrange a time with classroom teachers to plan/share a special interest or talent. During classroom visits, families might read to the class or support one of the many activities in the classroom.  During this time, parents/guardians should not expect to have extended conversations about their child with teachers/staff.

Assessment Plan (4A.1; 4A.24E.2; 4E.3, 4E.4)

Assessment in the early childhood classroom is an ongoing process. Through the cycle of intentional teaching teachers use ongoing observational assessment data, benchmark assessment data and information shared by families to inform their planning and instruction for young children. Using this information, teachers intentionally create environments and developmentally appropriate learning experiences for their students. As reflective practitioners, teachers also use assessment data as a foundation for professional conversations to increase their overall understanding about how young children learn and to support their instructional practices. 

Teachers provide formal documentation in a report card to families three times a year. They meet with families in December and March for parent-teacher conferences. Conferences provide an opportunity for parents/guardians to raise questions and engage in meaningful dialogue with teachers about their child’s development and how our assessment practices meet the unique needs of their child. Families of students with IEPs meet for PPT meetings at least annually. At any time, a parent or guardian can request a conference. In addition to the Teaching Strategies Gold curriculum assessment tool, teachers assess students using literacy and numeracy benchmark assessments. Teachers maintain state teaching certification specific to teaching and assessing young children and engage in weekly professional development that provides opportunity for continued growth and training in the assessment of preschool-aged children.

Parent Conferences (G16)

Parents and teachers will have the opportunity to share and discuss information about a child’s adjustment, development and activities at school twice a year. In the fall and spring, formal conferences will be held with progress reports. If the need should arise, a parent or teacher may request a conference at another time during the school year.

Parent/Guardian Open House (Curriculum Night) (G15)

An open house for parents/guardians is held in the beginning of the school year (mid-September) to provide opportunity to see the classroom and learn more about the pre-kindergarten curriculum.

ParentTeacher Organization (PTO) (B1) 

Families are encouraged to participate in a Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) at their school. The purpose of the PTO at each school, organized by parents/guardians, teachers, and administrators, is to support the education of children by fostering relationships within the school community (school staff, families, teachers).

Opportunities for parenting education and other support activities (B3)  Assistance to families in accessing adult education programs, etc. (E2)

West Hartford Public Schools Department of Continuing and Adult Education offers opportunities for Adult Basic Education, General Education Diploma, and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). These are offered in various locations in West Hartford as well as through the Bridge Family Resource Center. Childcare may be available for classes as well. For example, one ESOL class combines English language learning with family literacy development, offering a structured playgroup for pre-school children, organized parent-child interactions, and activities for adult students learning English language skills.

West Hartford Public Library and the Town of West Hartford have websites with job listings that are available to the public. Information regarding programs offered at the library are also listed on the websites.

Activities to support families in interactive literacy activities (E3)  

Families are invited to participate in literacy workshops to enhance family support of their child’s learning throughout the school year. Additional examples of activities that support families with literacy development include:  

  • Coffee and conversation morning workshops are held monthly for families to gain skills to support literacy learning in young children.

  • Spanish community support workshops encourage families to support their child’s learning in English all the while encouraging the strengthening of the child’s dominant language and literacy skills.

  • Home/school literacy bags available for families to check out and use at home contain a book, materials for a literacy activity and questions/suggestions for families when reading the book to their child. Book packets are available in multiple languages. Classroom teachers or school librarians have more information.

  • Family resource rooms, open to the West Hartford community, are available at both Smith and Charter Oak School and offer resources to families and care providers that encourage strong literacy development skills. 

  • Summer programs for young children offered through The Bridge encourage vocabulary and early literacy development.

Bilingual Support (F1)

We promote the enrollment of children from diverse racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds. Support to all non-English speaking families is available. We have on staff Spanish-speaking translators. Every attempt will be made to accommodate translation needs for families with other home languages. West Hartford Public Schools makes every effort to translate information given to families into other languages (e.g, use of Google translation features). 

Professional Development (H5)

The key to each child’s success is the quality of instruction at the classroom level. The West Hartford Public School system’s Professional Development Plan is based on a model of continuous improvement and lifelong learning for staff and a belief that all children can and should learn. Therefore, the primary purpose of the professional development plan is to enhance the professional skills of the staff so that they can effectively meet the educational needs of all students.

Negotiating Difficulties and Differences

If differences should arise relating to your child’s program, it is always best to communicate first with the classroom teacher. If a situation is still concerning, the Principal or Department Supervisor is always available to assist.

Child Abuse

Teachers, principals, coaches of intramural or interscholastic athletics, paraeducators and other professional school staff including school counselors, social workers, psychologists, and licensed nurses are obligated by law (C.G.S. 17a-101) to report suspected child abuse, neglect, or if a child is placed in imminent danger of serious harm to the Connecticut State Department of Children and Families Services (DCF). Specific procedures governing the reporting of abuse and neglect are in effect, and staff receive yearly training in their use. Specific information regarding Mandated Reporting and Definitions of Abuse and Neglect can be found at the DCF website: https://portal.ct.gov/DCF/1-DCF/FAQs

Reporting of child abuse and neglect is a responsibility which is taken seriously. If there is any doubt about reporting suspected abuse or neglect, a report will be made. The school will work with the parents and appropriate social agencies in all cases. Any accusations of abuse or neglect against school staff members will result in an immediate report to the Department of Children and Families and full investigation by administration.

Health and Safety

Medical (C1, C2, C3)

All children must have a current physical examination before starting school. The State of Connecticut requires that we have an updated medical form on file at all times. All medical forms expire one year from the date of last physical exam. If the medical form is not up to date, a child will not be able to attend school.  All medical files are securely locked with the full time nurse on staff.

Flu shots are required for all preschool aged students prior to January 1 each year. Up-to-date immunizations  are required by the State Department of Education and the State Department of Health. Students who have not received required immunizations will be excluded from attending school until they have been vaccinated. Immunization exemption forms for religious or medical reasons can be requested from the school nurse. Children with immunization exemptions shall be permitted to attend school except in the case of a vaccine-preventable disease outbreak in the school. 

Accidents/Injuries

In the event a minor accident or injury should occur, first aid supplies are available from the school nurse. In addition to having a nurse on staff, a team of teachers and staff have been trained in CPR/First Aid and emergency procedures. All accidents and illnesses are documented by the school nurse and kept on file. A call to the parent/guardian will be made home to inform them of any injury. In the rare occasion that an injury results in a recommendation to see the family doctor or visit the Emergency Room, a written report will be provided to parent/guardian. It is very important that families update emergency contact information when changes occur so a child’s parent/guardian can be contacted in a timely manner.

Illness

Children should not attend school when they are sick.  If families have any questions about their child’s health, they should check with their healthcare provider. Children should be kept at home if they have:

  • Thick nasal or eye drainage

  • A rash that has not been checked and okayed by the doctor

  • Vomiting or diarrhea

  • A fever (temperature of 100 or higher)

Families should keep a child home until they are fever free, without medication for 24 hours. Children should also be symptom free for 24 hours after vomiting or diarrhea.

Medications and Sunscreen

Medications prescribed by a physician can be administered by the school nurse when a Medication Authorization Form is completed and signed by the physician and a parent/guardian. All medications must be in their original container and will be stored in a locked cabinet as appropriate. It is the responsibility of the family to retrieve any medications prior to the end of the school year; otherwise they will be discarded. Families are asked to apply sunscreen prior to the school day if needed. Written parental permission must be provided to the school nurse who can provide subsequent applications if required.

Other Services (C5)

Referral to agencies and persons who provide evaluations, child observations, family counseling and other services; i.e. medical insurance, on-going well-child care, immunizations, etc. to support families will be made upon request.

Providing vision, hearing, and dental screenings either on-site or in collaboration with another agency (C4)                                                                                                       

Vision and hearing screenings are done annually by the child’s pediatrician. The school nurse is available to provide additional screenings for all children in the school. A referral letter is sent home to a child’s family if vision or hearing screening results warrant an additional consultation by a doctor.

We work in collaboration with Children’s Dental Health Foundations Mobile Dentist Program to provide dental screenings for those families who elect to participate. Contact the school nurse for more information.

Fire Drill/Lockdown Drill

Connecticut law requires that each school hold at least one fire drill per month. Written procedures are reviewed with staff annually to ensure children are quickly and safely evacuated in the event of fire or emergency situation. Lockdown drills can be substituted for fire drills.

Per state law, a crisis response (lockdown) drill shall be substituted for a fire drill once every three months. The intent of these drills is to practice moving to and/or keeping students in a safe place in the event of a situation that may potentially put students and staff at risk.

School Closing Announcements

The Superintendent of Schools determines the necessity for delayed opening or the emergency closing of school due to weather conditions or other emergencies. Announcements regarding such closings are made over local radio stations WTIC 96.5 FM, WRCH 100.5 FM, and WTIC 1080 AM. Notice is also made via television on WVIT Channel 30, WFSB Channel 3, WTNH Channel 8, FoxCT and Channel 5 as well as via the Connect-ED Rapid Notification Service or on the web at www.whps.org. Please do not telephone the radio and television stations, the superintendent, or the principal. When there is a delayed opening of school, ALL before-school activities are cancelled. In the event that school requires early dismissal for inclement weather, electrical outages, or other unforeseen circumstances, parents/guardians will be notified via the Connect-ED Rapid Notification Service. We encourage parents/guardians to talk to their children so that they know what to do in the event of an early closing. The emergency closing time for the elementary schools is 11:45 a.m. When school is closed early, all afternoon and evening activities are canceled.

Kindergarten Transition Plan (G4)

Information

Student assessments are automatically transferred to the next school children attend in the West Hartford Public Schools. If a child is leaving the public school system, records will be transferred upon written request. (G4)

Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten staff collaborate to place children in appropriate classrooms. In the spring prior to Kindergarten entrance, rising Kindergarten students participate in a visiting day during which they meet new teachers and other incoming Kindergarten students. Information from several sources (pre-K teacher recommendation, transition to Kindergarten forms, visiting day observations) helps to inform the development of balanced classrooms. Transition PPTs are held for Early Learning Center (ELC) students with IEPs. (G1)

Many orientation activities and supports for children and families prepare them for transition to Kindergarten and build positive relationships between families and schools (G2, G3):

  • Kindergarten Transition Night (districtwide evening event for parents/guardians only), Purpose: To introduce Kindergarten transition process to all families of entering Kindergarten students 

  • Parent/Guardian Kindergarten Orientation (school-based evening event for parents/guardians only), Purpose: To introduce school staff, share key information (e.g., registration materials) and establish dialogue with families

Activities include the following:

  • Introduction of staff
  • Distribution and review of Kindergarten Packet

  • Kindergarten Visit Day Sign-up

  • Parent/guardian questions / open discussion

  • Review of registration materials and other necessary information for entering Kindergarten (e.g., health forms)

  • Explanation of  “typical day” in Kindergarten

  • Ways to support a smooth transition (i.e., Kindergarten picnics, playdates on playground over the summer, visiting school during summer)

  • Child Visit/Registration Day (daytime event for parent/guardian and child), Purpose: To provide a positive introduction for incoming kindergartners and their families to the public school setting and identify children who may require immediate support and/or intervention

Activities include the following:

  • Kindergartners (6 – 8 in a group) participate in a theme-related activity 
  • Parents/guardians meet with Residency Office personnel to verify West Hartford residence. Meet with school nurse to discuss health needs, return State of Connecticut Health Record Parents/guardians also have the opportunity to meet with additional school personnel (i.e., psychologist, curriculum specialist and the principal) to provide parents/guardians an opportunity to share any additional information about the kindergartner or ask questions.

  • Easy-to-read, consistent materials that describe the Kindergarten transition process, including registration, are distributed and accessible to families:

    • Website

    • Brochure with the dates and times of Parent/Guardian Orientation and Child Activity/Kindergarten Registration are available at all public schools in West Hartford

    • Kindergarten Packet with forms in English and Spanish are distributed at Parent/Guardian Orientation meetings
       

  • PreK teachers share information about a child’s strengths and areas of growth with Kindergarten teachers during transition meetings at the end of each school year.

Sign and Return

Please sign and return the print version of this Handbook to your child’s classroom teacher.

I have read and understood the West Hartford Public Schools Pre-Kindergarten Program Handbook.

 

Child’s full name (Printed) Classroom Teacher: ________________________________________________________

Parent/Guardian Name (Printed): _________________________________________________________

Parent/Guardian Signature: _________________________

Date: _________________________