Ross Handbook

Absences and Attendance

Regular school attendance is critical for academic success. Our goal is to ensure that every student attends school regularly and on time. Daily presence in school has a huge impact on a student’s academic success, starting in kindergarten and continuing through high school. Even as children grow older and more independent, families can continue to play a key role in making sure students get to school safely every day and understand why attendance is so important for success in school and in life.

We realize some absences are unavoidable due to health problems or other circumstances. But, we also know that when students miss too much school—excused or unexcused—they can fall behind academically.  Your child is less likely to succeed if he or she is chronically absent—which means missing 18 or more days in a school year.  Research shows that:

  • Children that are chronically absent in kindergarten and 1st grade are much less likely to read at grade level by the end of 3rd grade. By 6th grade, chronic absence is a warning sign for students at risk of dropping out of school. By 9th grade, good attendance can predict graduation rates even better than 8th grade test scores.

What are excused and unexcused absences?

Excused absences are when school-aged students are absent from school with a valid excuse and parental approval.  Examples of excused absences include:

  • Student illness (a doctor’s note is required if a student is absent for more than five days);
  • Death in the student’s immediate family;
  • Necessity for a student to attend a judicial proceeding as a plaintiff, defendant, witness or juror;
  • Observance of a religious holiday;
  • Temporary school closings due to weather, unsafe conditions or other emergencies;
  • Medical reasons such as a doctor’s appointment (a doctor’s note is required);
  • Failure of DC to provide transportation where legally responsible;
  • Lawful suspension or exclusion from school by school authorities;
  • Absences to allow students to visit their parent or legal guardian, who is in the military; immediately before, during or after deployment;
  • Emergency or other circumstances approved by the Director of Attendance and Support Services  or designee.

Excuse notes must be submitted by the parent/guardian within 5 days of a student’s return to school after an absence.  The note must include a written explanation of the reason for the student’s absence.  Parents/guardians may write their own note, or may use the DCPS template excuse note form obtained from the school.

Unexcused absences are when school-aged students are absent from school without a valid excuse, with or without parental approval. Examples of unexcused absences include:

  • Babysitting
  • Doing errands
  • Extended travel (domestic or international)
  • Oversleeping
  • Cutting classes

As a DCPS school, Ross follows the district’s attendance policy without exception and will record each absence as excused or unexcused. For details regarding the DCPS Attendance Policy, please click here  You will receive communications regularly as your child accumulates excused and/or unexcused absences throughout the school year.

Tardy Arrivals

Students who arrive after 8:45 a.m. should proceed to the Main Office or Security Desk to receive a Tardy Pass to be admitted to class. Do not go directly to the classroom. You and your child must come downstairs and get a tardy pass. Please help your child develop the good habit of being on time for school and for other important events now and in the future. Students who arrive late miss out on part of the morning transition and routine and it can be disruptive to teaching and learning.

Dress Code

Due to the recent COVID-related closure, we are suspending our current Dress Code policy until further notice. When in school, children should wear clean and comfortable clothing that will allow them to move safely inside the building and during physical education and recess. We recommend athletic shoes for safe PE and recess play.

We discourage a focus on “designer branding” and clothing with messaging that is not positive or inclusive. We will continue to maintain a “uniform bank” for students who may need extra clothing during the school day or for families who wish to “shop” the collection.

We advise parents of children in PK4 and K-1 send in a labelled zip-loc baggie with a complete change of clothing at the beginning of the year. Accidents do happen.

Other: no costumes, hats, gloves, non-prescription sunglasses, fashion scarves and outerwear will be worn in the classroom. Jewelry and other accessories not included above may be deemed unsafe or distracting as determined by Ross faculty. The following DCMR policy outlines other clothing/accessories not permitted in schools


Students may bring a home lunch or purchase a school meal. Menus are issued by DCPS shortly before the first of the month. Sodexho is the DCPS assigned vendor for Ross.  Kindly note that Ross is a NUT-FREE campus. Do not send any products with nuts for lunch or snack. We do not allow gum, candy or soda on campus.

Lunch menus can be found here:

Please see Ms. Campbell in the Main Office for the application for Free/Reduced Price Meals.

Students can pay for meals in two ways:

  1. By paying with a credit or debit card at an online prepayment service
    • Setup SMART PAY to automatically add money to account whenever it reaches a low balance
    • Receive low balance notifications to remind you when funds are low
  2. By sending a check or money order made payable to the DC Treasurer to the following address*:

DCPS Food and Nutrition Services
1200 First Street, NE, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20002

*The student ID# MUST be included.

Insufficient Funds Notification

If a student’s balance goes below zero, the student’s parent/guardian will receive communication with the amount due on the meal account balance and instructions to put money into their student’s account. Once a week (Monday) parents/guardians of students with negative meal account balances will receive:

  • A robo-call,
  • A text message, and
  • An email (if email address is provided)

Parents/guardians of students with negative balances will also receive a negative balance letter/invoice mailed home quarterly.

There is no limit to the amount of negative balance a student can accrue. There are no alternative meals served to a student with a negative balance. Students will continue to accrue negative balances until additional funds are put into their account. When funds are put into a students account, it will first pay off the negative balance. If a student’s balance is not paid at the end of the year, it will roll over into the next school year.

School breakfast is offered at every school and free for ALL DCPS students.

All students age 5 and above will need a student SmarTrip card for field trips. Please see Ms. Campbell in the main office to request your child’s card if you did not attend a summer distribution event.

K-5 students attend Fillmore Arts each Wednesday afternoon and will be transported on OSSE school buses.

Morning Procedure and Line-Up
School Hours for K-5 students: 8:45-3:30

School Hours for PK students: 8:45-3:15

Doors to the school open at 8:15 a.m. for breakfast which is offered FREE for all students in the Cafe. The Library and E-Magination Lab will be open to selected grade levels on Monday-Wednesday-Friday.

Morning supervision on the Ross playground and field begins at 8:15 am. We do not offer before-care. Students should not be dropped off at Ross prior to 8:15 a.m.  At 8:40 a.m. the whistle will blow to signal line-up time. All K-5 students will move to their class lines on the field and wait for their teacher to collect them.

Parents will stand behind the cones on the playground during the morning line up to ensure safety and safe passage of the classes into the building. Parents do not accompany children onto the field.

PK3 and PK4 students may be checked into their classrooms beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Children who arrive after 8:45am are considered tardy and must receive a tardy pass at the main office or security desk.

When there is inclement weather or it is below 32 degrees, the students will have indoor line-up.

PK3/PK4: check into classrooms at 8:30

K-1: wait in the lower lobby (outside the main office)

Grades 2-5: wait in the top floor lobby (outside of classrooms)

Afternoon Pick-Up
Students in PK3/PK4 are dismissed at 3:15 p.m. Parents/Caregivers pick up the children directly from the classroom.

Students in K-5 are dismissed at 3:30 p.m. and are brought out to the field to be picked up. They will be dismissed from the same field spots as morning line-up. Pick up for Grades 2-5 will be at the gate down by the playground. K-1 students will exit the gate closest to the school patio. Your child will need to shake hands/check out with the teacher before leaving the field. Please do not take your child without the teacher’s knowledge. We will only release your child to individuals who are named on the enrollment packet. If you have a change in pick-up, we will need a written note in advance and School Security will check the I.D. of the individual.

After school program providers who are picking up children from Ross are expected to be on site by 3:20 p.m. and to depart with the children by 3:30 p.m.

If you are picking your child up early, you must sign your child out at the Security Desk and ask the office to call the classroom.

Families may use the Ross playground from 3:3o to 4:00pm after school. From 4:00-6:00pm, the JCC has exclusive use of the space.

Once children have been dismissed they should not enter back into the building.

Dogs are not allowed on Ross school grounds at any time, including the playground, garden, field and concrete area.
School Closings
If school must delay opening, dismiss early, or close for the day due to inclement weather, power outages, or other unforeseen circumstances, Ross and DCPS will make every effort to communicate the situation with families using one or more of the following means:

For information on how DCPS decides to close schools, see the DCPS’s inclement weather guidance page.

Please do not call the Ross office to inquire about school closings. Ross faculty and staff learn about closures in the same manner and at the same time as families.

Safety and Emergency Procedures
In case of a threat in or around school, Ross has established shelter-in-place/lock-down procedures. This includes students and teachers sheltering in place in the classroom in a place that is out of the line of site. Should evacuation be required, students will travel to Marie Reed Elementary on 18th Street to reunify with caregivers. We also have practice drills for severe weather, earthquakes, and fires.

A few reminders in the event of an evacuation:

  • Emergency information will be made available to families as quickly as possible.
  • Our evacuation site is Marie Reed Elementary, 2201 18th Street NW, Washington DC 20009
  • Students will ONLY be released to parents or caregivers noted on the Emergency Form. Students will not be released to friends, neighbors, or others not listed on enrollment paperwork or the Emergency Form.
  • Reunification is not a quick process. Please be prepared to wait for your child. Please plan to be as patient and calm as possible and bring I.D. in order to collect your child.

It is important for every parent to have a conversation with their child about what to do in case something unexpected happens.  Determine how the family as a whole will deal with school closings and other emergencies. These conversations can help your child feel calm and confident when facing an unexpected situation. Please make sure the school office, your child’s teacher, and your class room parents have your most up-to-date home, cell, and office phone numbers so you can be contacted quickly in an emergency.

A nurse or health tech is usually available during the school day to help with medical needs and to promote the general health and safety of the school community. Confidentiality on all health matters is respected. To reach Nurse Gordon directly call 202- 671-0405 or call the front office at 202-673-7200.

Nurse Gordon is assigned to Ross on Wednesday through Friday. Ms.Watkins, Health Tech, is assigned to Ross on Monday and Tuesday.

Nurse Gordon’s email:

Children with fever, sore throat, nausea or vomiting should not come to school. Parents are requested to immediately report any child’s communicable illness (e.g. strep throat, chicken pox, flu, lice, etc.) to the school nurse.

Children should be fever-free for 24 hours before returning to school. Children being treated for communicable illnesses should not return unless their healthcare provider has given medical clearance to return. Parents are asked to send a note with their child upon their return that explains their absence.

If your child is sick and staying home from school, please email the teacher and copy Ms. Campbell (  Please include the child’s first and last name, date of absence(s) and reason.

Parents of children with a history of chronic illness (food allergies, asthma, etc.) that may affect school life should meet with the school nurse to develop an individual health plan (IHP).

If your child has allergies, especially to food, medicine, or bee stings, let the school nurse know immediately in writing so it can be noted on the student’s health record and the teacher can be notified. If the allergy is life threatening, please see the nurse regarding the physician’s orders for medication at school.

Children with lice must be under treatment to attend school. Please notify your child’s teacher and the nurse if your child has lice.


DCPS policy requires that parents and physicians complete appropriate health forms before any prescription or over-the-counter medication can be administered. These forms are available from the school nurse. Please do not send any medications to school with your child. All medications will require doctor’s orders and should be taken to the health suite by a parent where they are checked in. Kindly note that school staff may not apply sunscreen, lotions, or administer over the counter medications to students.

The school nurse will contact parents to advise them in case of illness or accident. Please keep all contact information current. The school must have the number of a relative, friend, or neighbor in case parents cannot be reached. If emergency transportation is required, a staff member will accompany the student if the parent is not present.

After School Care and Programming

See the JCC After School page or the page regarding After School Activities.

All students have a daily 30 minute recess block before lunch.  Mr. Shegda is the recess manager monitoring equipment and play and managing other Ross staff on duty. Students may not bring their own toys or equipment to recess.

Ross holds recess indoors when the temperature drops below 32 degrees, is dangerously icy or when it rains or snows. Additionally, Ross will hold recess indoors when DCPS issues heat advisory warnings based on a temperature or heat index could impact student health.

Birthdays are celebrated once a month for the children who have a birthday within that month. Celebrations are held at the end of the day in the classroom and are coordinated by the Room Parent. They should be simple in nature.  We do not allow gum, candy, soda, entertainment, etc. at celebrations. Plan to bring napkins and plates, if necessary. We do not stock those items in the classroom. In order to be inclusive, we do not allow students to pass out party invitations at school unless the entire class is being included.
Lost & Found
If your child has lost an item, check the lost & found table in the back lobby. All unclaimed items are donated to charity at the end of each advisory. The Ross uniform exchange is also next to the Lost and Found.
Toys, Electronics, Cell Phones and Items of Value
Toys and electronics are not to be brought to school. If students have cell phones, they must be turned off and stored in student backpacks during the day. Smart watches and exercise trackers may be worn as long as the functions for phone, text and photos are not in use. If these items become a distraction, your child will need to stop wearing them at school at the discretion of the teaching staff and/or administrative staff.

We are not responsible for lost or damaged toys, electronics and cell phones. Students should also refrain from wearing any jewelry of value. We are not responsible for lost or damaged jewelry or other valuables.

Visiting Your Child's Classroom
During the first six weeks of school, we are developing routines and procedures and do not invite parents to observe in classrooms. After the first six weeks of school, you may schedule a classroom observation through Principal Searl.  Morning Meetings are a good starting point for an observation to see how we begin each day.  During each of the four advisories, Ross will host a parent visiting morning called a “Learning Celebration” to experience what your child has learned during recent instructional units. These are well-attended events at Ross.
Student Support

In addition to your child’s classroom teacher, there are a number of professionals at Ross who work to support children’s academic, social-emotional, and physical development. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s development in any area, please reach out to your child’s teacher and Principal Searl. Our Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) and Response to Intervention Team meet regularly to review concerns and develop intervention plans. Teams may include: Principal, teacher, school psychologist, social worker, special education coordinator, nurse, academic support teacher, English as a Second Language teacher, speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, and others as necessary.

Fillmore Arts

Ross partners with Fillmore Arts for Art and Music education. PK students receive instruction at Ross on Monday mornings. K-5 students travel to Fillmore, located in Hardy Middle School, on Wednesday afternoons for two 60 minute instructional blocks. We travel on DCPS provided school buses departing at noon and returning at 3:00pm.   Fillmore is directed by Ms. Meenehan (

Hardy Middle School is located at 1819 35th Street NW, Washington DC 20007

Fillmore Phone: 202-729-3794

Field Trips

Field trips are an important part of the curricular experience at Ross. Teachers plan trips to enhance and extend the instructional units of study and also to provide exposure to arts, culture and opportunities for personal growth.  For many trips, children will need the district provided SmarTrip card to travel on public transportation. Other trips will be walkable or require a private bus. PTA membership dues cover the majority of field trip costs but certain trips may require a supplemental fee. We wish to include all children on trips regardless of ability to pay. If you require financial support for a trip, please see Principal Searl for confidential help.

Student safety is our priority and we do require parent chaperones for many excursions. Parent chaperones must have DCPS Volunteer Clearance in order to participate. In the event we do not have adequate chaperone coverage, a trip will be cancelled.

Students who do not consistently exhibit the ability to follow DCPS and school expectations for behavior on campus may lose the privilege of participating in off-campus field trips due to safety concerns.


Positive, polite, and solution-oriented communication between home and school is critical to the successful functioning of our community. Principal Searl and teachers will provide a weekly written communication to all families including school and classroom news and updates. The PTA maintains the Ross website and will also communicate regularly regarding PTA events and opportunities for parent engagement.  There are also bulletin boards outside for posting school and DCPS information. Ross also maintains a school Facebook page and Twitter account.

The best way to reach teachers is through their school email address. Teachers will respond to emails and phone calls within 24 hours. If you need to speak with your child’s teacher, please schedule a meeting in advance. Upon arrival for your meeting, all parents and visitors must sign-in at the security desk, receive a visitor’s sticker and announce their presence in the main office. Ms. Campbell will then alert the teacher that you have arrived for the meeting. Parents SHOULD NOT proceed directly to classrooms without signing in at security. Teachers have contractually guaranteed planning time and meetings before school. Please do not “drop in” before school for unscheduled meetings with teachers.

Principal Searl has an open-door policy and is present most mornings and afternoons on the playground. If you wish to schedule an appointment, email her directly or call Ms. Campbell in the main office between 8:00am and noon.

In addition, Ross maintains a Facebook page and a Twitter account.

Visitor Policy

Ross Elementary, as a DCPS, is a closed campus. Our doors are secured during school hours and all visitors must be buzzed in and sign in at our security desk upon entering the building. Doors may not be propped and parents/visitors should not open the door to admit others.  The playground/field may only be used by Ross students and staff during school hours and by JCC between the hours of 4:00 and 6:00 PM.

Smoking, drugs and alcohol are not permitted on campus. Dogs and pets are not permitted on the property except for service animals.

If you wish to visit/observe your child’s classroom, please make an appointment directly with Principal Searl. We permit K-5 parents to schedule visits/observations after the first six weeks of school.