New Student FAQs

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On behalf of the PTA, welcome to Highlands Elementary School!

Starting a new school is a big step for all children and requires lots of support and encouragement. At Highlands, we recognize that each family is unique and that each child’s experience will be different. This is an exciting and emotional time and we hope that this information will help to answer some of your questions and alleviate any concerns you may have.

Highlands’ teachers, staff and parents are happy to assist you any way they can. Please don’t hesitate to contact the PTA Board Members  if you have any other questions – we are all parents together.

Q. What is the schedule for the school day?

  • Regular School Days - Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday
    • Kindergarten:  8:20 am – 12:20 noon*
      (*Instruction for English Learners extends to 12:50 pm)
    • Grades 1-2-3:  8:20 am – 2:40 pm
    • Grades 4-5:     8:00 am – 2:40 pm
  • Minimum Day - Wednesday and as scheduled
    • Kindergarten:  8:20 am – 12:20 noon*
      (*Bus students wait until 12:25 pm)
    • Grades 1-2-3:  8:20 am – 12:25 pm
    • Grades 4-5:     8:00 am – 12:25 pm

Q. What is the pick up and drop off procedure for children?

  • Parents or caregivers should accompany their children outside the school building on the blacktop until classroom lines form and children are escorted inside by the teachers at 8:20 a.m. (kindergarten, Grades 1, 2 and 3) or 8:00 am (Grades 4 and 5).
  • Parents or caregivers should pick their Kindergarten children up from their respective classrooms at 12:20 p.m. every day. 
  • Kindergarten English learners should be picked up at 12:50 p.m.
  • On regular school days, parents or caregivers should pick up their 1st through  5th grade children at 2:40 p.m.
  • Children in grades 1st through 5th should be picked up at 12:25 p.m. on Wednesdays and other "Minimum Days".
  • Please be respectful of other classes in session and wait outside the hallways until your children are dismissed.  If you need to wait for an older child, there are usually many families playing on the playgrounds.

Q. Can I accompany my child into their classroom on the first day of school?

All parents are welcomed and encouraged to accompany their child outside the school building on the blacktop until classroom lines form and the children are escorted inside by the teachers.

Q. Where should I park?

  • Street parking is available all around Highlands.
  • We respectfully request that you park your car safely and walk your child to and from their classroom.
  • Please DO NOT PARK in the school parking lot or in the drop-off zones.
  • The drop-off (yellow) zones are for dropping off children only! Please do not get out of your car or leave your car unattended in the drop-off zones. If your child needs assistance getting out of the car or you are worried about your child getting onto campus safely we recommend you park and accompany your child.
  • There are crossing guards on Newport and Bunker Hill Drive to assist you.

Q. What are the guidelines for crossing the street at the Newport/Monticello intersection (near Kindergarten end of school)?

  1. Pedestrians and drivers:  Watch the Crossing Guard (CG) and follow his instructions. The CG directs ALL traffic - both pedestrian and vehicular - at Newport/Monticello intersection.
  2. Pedestrians:  Walk, don’t run. Use the crosswalks and do not cross outside these.
  3. Parents:  Please wait for the CG’s directions before crossing with your children.
  4. Drivers:
    • The yellow curb is for brief stops to drop-off passengers - Do not leave your vehicle there.
    • No U-turns in or near the intersection!
    • If you intend to turn, use turn signal several car lengths ahead of the intersection. For safe and smooth traffic flow, the CG needs to know where you want to go!
    • Don’t linger by the stop signs if the CG waves you through. Just GO after a brief stop.  If you don’t get a clear signal from the CG, stop and wait at the stop sign until he waves you through.
    • Do not stop and wave pedestrians through!  They have to wait for the CG’s signal.
    • Focus on the traffic and do not use cell phones in your car around the school.

Q. Can my child ride a bicycle to school?

  • Only students in 3rd through 5th grades are permitted to ride their bikes to school.
  • Bike riding on school grounds is prohibited between 7:55 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
  • Skateboards, scooters and rollerblades are not permitted on campus at any time.

Q. What should my child wear and bring to school to be prepared?

  • Students should wear weather appropriate clothing, preferably in layers, as the weather at Highlands is changeable and it is often cooler than in other parts of San Mateo.
  • Please dress your child in tennis or other closed-toed shoes (no open-toed sandals or flip-flops) as Kindergarteners and younger grades have physical education every day. (Time and help with changing shoes is not always available as teachers will be instructing other children in the classroom.)
  • Your child will need a bag or backpack that can accommodate 8.5” x 11” paper and a snack/lunch. Small comfortable bags are best for kindergarteners.
  • Most school supplies are provided within the classroom (pencils, crayons, scissors, and glue). Your child’s teacher will let you know in the first few days if any other items are needed.  The PTA and school buy school supplies in bulk to take advantage of quantity discounts, but parents will be asked to reimburse $25 per child at Back-to-School night.
  • Please make sure that all clothing, shoes, bags and lunch boxes are labeled clearly with your child’s first and last name.

Q. Will my child need a snack or lunch?

  • Yes, please provide a small, healthy snack and drink for your child to “recharge” at recess time. No soda or candy allowed.
  • On regular school days (Mon, Tues, Thurs and Friday) students in Grades 1-5 may bring lunch from home or purchase lunch at school.
  • Lunch is not necessary for Kindergarteners who are dismissed at 12:20 p.m. or for any student on Wednesdays.
  • However, if your child will be attending after school programs at the Annex or Highlands Recreation Center then lunch may be brought from home or purchased at school.

Q. How does the District Lunch Program work if I choose to purchase lunch?

  • Students can purchase a hot lunch from school each day.
  • Pre-payment is requested and the cost for a lunch is currently $2.50 a day (Online payments are preferred and can be made through MySchoolBucks other forms of pre-payment can be obtained form the school office.)
  • The lunch menu is distributed monthly in the information packet that is sent home to parents every Thursday. It can also be found on the SMFC District Website. (Complete details about the lunch program are provided on the Food Services page).
  • If your Kindergartener is not attending an after-school program but would like to have lunch at Highlands, you must arrange for supervision of your child during that time.

Q. How do I arrange after-school care for my child?

  • The school district operates the Children’s Annex Program, offering before and after-school care on campus; students participate in various activities including, arts & crafts, library study and recreational pursuits. Registration is through the Children’s Annex Department at our District Office.
  • The Highlands Recreation Center offers after-school care at their facility on Lexington Avenue approximately three blocks from Highlands School. For further details about this program please call (650) 341-4251.

Q. What is the procedure if my child will be absent from school?

  • If your child is ill and unable to attend school, please report their absence by calling the school office at (650) 312-7534 (press “3”) before 8:30 a.m.
  • Voluntary absences are discouraged; in the event that they are unavoidable, we encourage parents to contribute $30 per day for each day a child is absent, to make up for funds lost by Highlands School. Donation forms and information are available in the office.

Q. It’s the first day of school, I’ve dropped of my child, now what?

  • Join us for a Welcome Back to School Coffee in the LGI (8:15-9am).
  • Talk with members of the PTA Board about the school and the many activities that we provide for Highlands families.
  • Join the PTA
  • Sign up for something. Whether you’re good with computers, math, reading, art, baking or gardening, there are many jobs big and small that you could help with.

Q. I still have questions, where do I go?

  • For school specific issues, contact the office at (650) 312-7544
  • For class-specific issues, contact your child's teacher at the contact information they provided on the first day of school.  Please do not stop your child's teacher before or after school with a serious concern as they are busy preparing for the day or helping other children get settled after school.
  • For PTA specific issues, contact the PTA person responsible.