Parent Handbook for Gunston Elementary
1. Gunston Open House and Few Reminders
August 18, 2023
9-10:30 a.m. (last name first initial A-L come at 9 a.m. and M-Z at 9:45 a.m.)
This an Activity Scheduled Before the School Year Begins Where You Can:
- Drop off any school supplies
- Tour and get comfortable with your child’s school. (There is also a tour for new families on August 9 at 2 p.m.)
- Student information packets with Emergency Care Forms, PTA Membership Forms, etc. will be available.
- Deposit funds into your child's lunch account in the cafeteria and bring in medication to the clinic.
- Sign up for Kiss & Ride tags.
- Classroom assignments will be posted in the cafeteria.
Under FCPS policy students are prohibited from using cell phones during the school day. Cell phones must be silenced and put away.
Don’t forget to label your child’s items especially coats, backpacks and lunch boxes!
10100 Gunston Road Lorton, VA 22079 / 703-541-3600/ (fax)703-541-3697
First Day of School
Monday, August 21
- Our doors open at 8:25 a.m. Students arriving before this time must remain with their parent as there is NO adult supervision in the building.
- Students arriving after 8:35 a.m. will be considered tardy and must be signed in by a parent in the office.
- Kiss & Ride students are to be dropped off at Door 3 only. Students may not be dropped off in the parking lot or in front of the building.
- If arriving at Kiss & Ride after it closes at 8:35 a.m. please park your car and walk your student into the building through Door 1. Please do not park in reserved parking spaces.
- Cars are NOT to be parked in the fire lane. Please use non-assigned parking spaces.
- Kiss & Ride opens at 3:20 p.m.
- 2023-2024 Kiss & Ride tags must be visible in your front window.
- Please send a note or call the school office in the morning if your child needs to leave school during the day for a doctor’s appointment, etc.
- Your identification is required to sign your child out of school. The child will be called from their classroom once the check-out procedure is complete.
- Students will not be released to anyone except the parent/guardian listed on the emergency care form unless other arrangements have been given in writing by the parent/guardian.
- A written note or email to your child’s teacher and the office needs to be provided for any changes to a student’s afterschool dismissal procedure (will not ride the bus, going home with a friend, etc.) NOTE: If a student is going home with a friend, both students must bring written permission from their parents.
- We request transportation changes be made no later than 2:30 p.m. the day of the change to ensure your child arrives home safely. Students being picked up early from the office must be picked up by 3:00 pm.
- Parents are to notify the office, SACC and after school care programs if their child will be absent or picked up early.
FCPS offers healthy and nutritious breakfast and lunch options for all students. A monthly menu is available online.
You may deposit money into your child’s account during Open House. Money may be deposited online at www.myschoolbucks.com or by a check made payable to Gunston ES Food Services. Please include your child’s name on all checks.
Breakfast: All students who arrive on-time will have the opportunity to purchase breakfast.
Snacks: Your child’s teacher will share when students have snack-time and what the expectations are in addition to the same ones for lunch.
If your child has a food allergy, please make sure it is noted on their Health Information form.
Breakfast Student $1.75 Adult $2.75
Lunch Student $3.25 Adult $4.75
Reduced price for qualifying students: no charge
More about Free and Reduced-Price Mean Applications below
According to the Centers for Disease Control, eating breakfast at school is associated with better attendance rates, fewer missed school days, and better test scores. Students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals receive breakfast and lunch at school at no cost.
Families need to complete a new application before the start of each school year. Approved applications may also qualify students for additional benefits.
Applications for free and reduced meals are available in the school office or online at http://www.fcps.edu/fs/food/mealprices.shtml
Please be sure to apply as soon as possible!
Label Student Items
Please label your child’s coats, jackets, backpacks, water bottles and lunch boxes!
My SchoolBucks School Store
Online payment for student fees and school store items will be available through the MySchoolBucks School Store. This online payment service provides a quick and easy way to pay for school-related purchases. You will be able to pay for a variety of school fees using credit/debit cards or electronic checks.
- Convenience – It’s available 24/7 on the web.
- Efficiency – It eliminates the need to write checks and for students to bring money to school.
- Flexibility – You can make payments using credit/debit cards and electronic checks.
- Security – The MySchoolBucks system adheres to the highest security standards, including PCI and CISP.
Enrollment is easy!
Just go to the link located on your school’s homepage to establish an account. Add your students using the name of the school they are attending and either their student ID number or birthdate.
Once the account has been established, you will receive a confirmation email. Then you can start making purchases with your credit/debit card or electronic checks! There are no convenience fees for using the online payment system.
Need help? Reach Customer Service by:
- emailing @email
- calling 855-832-5226">1-855-832-5226.
- visiting www.myschoolbucks.com and clicking on “Help/FAQs.”
Stay updated with what's happening at Gunston Elementary
Visitors and Volunteers
Parents are welcome to join their student for lunch. Please sit with them at the assigned parent table. Pre-arranged classroom/school volunteers are always welcome.
Students are prohibited from using cell phones during the school day. Cell phones must be silenced and put away.
School Dress Code
Students are expected to dress appropriately for the educational environment. Clothing which interferes with or disrupts this environment is unacceptable. FCPS Regulation 2613.3 outlines appropriate dress for school including what items are not allowed.
Students will have recess for a minimum of 30 minutes daily. Outdoor recess may still occur during cold spells so students should come prepared (jackets, gloves, and hats) as weather decisions are made by the school each day. Please talk with your child about remembering to pick up their items from the playground. Label your child’s items and check that they come home with all their belongings. Lost & Found items will be donated locally at the end of each quarter.
Shoes: Students should wear appropriate closed toe shoes for PE and playing on the playground.
Label Student Items
Please label your child’s coats, jackets, backpacks, water bottles and lunch boxes!
Parents must contact our main office each day their child will be out for an illness or will be tardy and leave a message by calling 703-541-3600 or emailing: @email . Both options are available 24 hours a day. This is a critical safety precaution for your child.
If we do not hear of an absence or late arrival by 9:25 a.m. you will be contacted by an automated system using the information from your child’s emergency care sheet.
Excused absence & tardy: Illness of the student, death in the family, medical or dental appointment, observance of religious holiday
Unexcused absence & tardy: Family trips and vacations, childcare situation, oversleeping, non-school activity, traffic, missing the bus
Any student who has ten (10) unexcused absences will be referred to the School Attendance Officer.
We track attendance on a regular basis and reach out to families to help resolve any attendance issues. If you need help and/or have questions, do not hesitate to contact our main office to speak with an administrator, our counselor or social worker. We’re here to help.
Principal: Kristen Rucinski
Assistant Principal: Ebony Opie
New Staff Members!
We are excited to welcome the following new staff members. They come with impressive backgrounds and experiences and will be sure to add their gifts and talents to our Gunston family.
Grade 5 Teacher – Katie Carpenter
ESOL Teacher – Heather Olinger
Special Ed Teacher – Kaitlin Booth
Special Ed Teacher – Bindu Shrestha
Special Ed Teacher – Cassie Warley
General Music – Deven Song
Librarian – Nicole Oberdick
Special Ed IA – Saima Iqbal
Custodian – Elba Parada
In response to health and safety procedures, birthday treats will not be shared in the cafeteria as allergies need to be monitored. We recommend that treats are store bought and individually wrapped. In lieu of a treat you may consider donating your child’s favorite book to their classroom library.
Please share with the teacher your intention to share a treat and teachers will acknowledge birthdays at the appropriate time in their schedule.
- Students eligible to ride the school bus were notified of their bus stop and time. Please be sure your Parent-Vue account is up to date as this is the method transportation uses to communicate this information.
- Please report to the bus stop at least five minutes prior to the listed time.
- Students are required to board and depart the bus at the assigned stop to prevent over-crowding on buses. Any changes require permission from the transportation office.
- Please be patient with any changes or delays in the transportation schedule as some needed adjustments are made during the first week of school.
- Kindergarten students will not be let off the bus unless they are met by a designated person who is 13 years of age or older (this is to include parents, siblings and day care providers). Students will be returned to school if a parent is not at the bus stop to meet them.
- Parents and caregivers are not allowed to board the school bus. If you have any questions or concerns, please speak to the bus driver or call the school.
- Bus drivers are given student formal names on their transportation run sheets. Please make sure the driver knows your child and that your child is aware of their full given name.
Student Rights & Responsibilities
The FCPS Student Rights & Responsibilities (SR&R) Handbook will be coming home soon. In accordance with state regulation, parents are required to review the information with their children and return the signed signature pages to their child’s teacher
Safety & Security
The safety and security of our students is our number one priority at Gunston Elementary. We regularly review our security procedures in order to ensure a safe learning environment for our students. We appreciate your assistance in helping us keep our students safe by following these procedures.
Our school security plan requires that all exterior doors to the main building be locked. Office staff provide parents and school visitors access through the main entrance (Door 1) via the video entry security system. All visitors must then go directly to the office to sign in with their driver’s license and receive a visitor’s tag. Please make sure that your visitor tag is secured to your shirt. Visitors can expect to be questioned by school personnel if they are not displaying the visitors tag issued at the office.
We maintain a safety plan that requires we hold various drills throughout the year to make sure we are ready in the event of an emergency. Fire drills are held once a week during the first four weeks of school and then again each month. Lockdown drills are practiced four times a year, and tornado drills are practiced in the spring.
These recommended procedures have been adopted to protect the safety of our students. We appreciate your support in ensuring a caring, happy and most importantly safe, learning environment.
Staying connected is key to a successful school experience. We’ve set up many ways for families to receive important information, connect with staff and to share information and questions.
Staff are available to meet either in person or online using Zoom to discuss any concerns and /or questions you may have. Please contact the teacher ahead of time to find a mutually convenient time.
Teachers begin their day at 8:15 a.m. Parents may leave a message for teachers during the school day. Please call the main office at 703-541-3600 and you will be directed to their voicemail. Teachers will respond within 24 hours. If you have time-sensitive information to share, please contact the main office.
eNotify: eNotify is the automatic enrollment service for parents of FCPS students and employees of the system. It draws contact information from the student information system and the employee databases. FCPS central offices and schools use eNotify for essential communication. It is important that parents keep their child’s emergency contact information up to date with the school.
Email: Teachers may not see it right away, so please do not include urgent information. Teachers are expected to respond to parents by the end of the next school day. For example, if you email a teacher at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, you should expect a response by the end of the day on Wednesday. If you find any challenges connecting with a teacher, please contact Ms. Rucinski or Mrs. Opie for support.
Talking Points: This app allows teachers and parents to communicate in their home language through texts. Your child’s teacher will set this up with you at the beginning of school.
News You Choose/Gunston Gazette: Each week, we share a newsletter called the “Gunston Gazette.” The Gazette is our main form of communication and will keep you updated on all that is happening at Gunston. All families providing email addresses automatically receive News You Choose emails which are sent out every Friday. If you are not receiving this informative newsletter you can sign up on the first page of the Gunston ES website. Instructions for how to sign up are also included in the back- to-school packet. The newsletter is posted on the homepage of our website, as well.
ParentVue: Access your student’s attendance records, progress reports and other important information at any time with ParentVueParents should receive an activation code when they register their child. We will work with families to set up this account. Once you have activated a ParentVUE account for an FCPS student, you will keep the same account until the student graduates. Information about students in the same family can be accessed through the same ParentVUE account. Access SIS ParentVUE by using an app on your iPhone, iPad, or Android devices.
Take-Home Thursday folder: Thursday has been designated as our “take home” day. Parents are encouraged to look for communication from school each day, but we will try to limit most correspondence to Thursdays
Medication Authorization Forms
The FCPS medication authorization forms have been updated for school year 23-24 and older versions cannot be accepted. Please use the links below for the updated forms:
For epinephrine: https://www.fcps.edu/sites/default/files/media/forms/se64.pdf
General medication form: https://www.fcps.edu/sites/default/files/media/forms/se63.pdf:
Virginia Asthma Action Plan for inhalers: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/content/uploads/sites/58/2016/12/Asthma-Action-Plan-2019.pdf
Forms for all medications must be completed by a physician with the exception of over-the-counter medications (OTCs) for headaches, muscle aches, menstrual cramps or orthodontic pain. OTCs must be in original, unopened containers upon receipt.
The school public health nurse will be available during Open House to accept medications and discuss any concerns you may have.