Dear PS 321 Families,

We’ve had a great start to the new school year! Our staggered arrival times for the first two
days went so smoothly, and I am very appreciative of your support in that. We were counting on
parents to follow our instructions and leave quickly at designated times, and you did! Dismissal
on the first few days is always more challenging, but I have no doubt that as parents and
caregivers get used to the new routines, and as more children are picked up for afterschool
programs, dismissal will also go smoothly.

It has been a joy to see your children adjusting so quickly to their new classes. Our amazing
teachers have set up beautiful learning environments, and to see children so engaged so
quickly is really wonderful. All of our teachers focused a lot of time on community building on
Thursday and Friday, and it is lovely to see children beginning to make new friends and feel
comfortable in their new surroundings.

As we prepare for our first full week in school, I want to review what will be happening at both
arrival and dismissal beginning on Monday, 9/12, and also share some other information with


  • Kindergarten students should be brought to their designated arrival spots that are
    in front of the school between 8:25 and 8:30. These are the same spots from which
    the students were dismissed last week.
  • Fifth grade students will enter the school building on their own through the front
    doors. The front doors will open at 8:27. We will have staff members stationed on
    the stairs and in the hallways to guide them to their classrooms, where their teachers will
    be waiting for them. Fifth graders should not come into the backyard.
  • Students in grades one through four will line up in their boxes in the backyard
    between 8:20-8:30. These are the same boxes they have been in since the first day of
    school for both arrival and dismissal. Parents will say goodbye to their children at
    the gates to the backyard (either on 1st or 2nd Street) and children will enter on
    their own. This is for your children’s safety. Administrators and other staff will supervise
    in the year and at the gates, and teachers will arrive at 8:30 and take their classes
    upstairs. Children who arrive late, after classes have gone upstairs, should enter
    through the front doors into the lobby. They will need to go to the office to get late


  • Please make sure that your children’s teachers have in writing who will be picking
    up your children each day, and/or what afterschool program they will be going to. We can only dismiss children to people or programs you have designated.
  • The dismissal spots are the same ones the classes have been using since the first
    day of school and are the same as the arrival spots. Kindergarten arrival spots are in
    front of the school. Fifth graders leave on their own through the front doors if they have permission to self dismiss or are brought to 2nd Street, through the door of the school closest to 7th Avenue. Children in grades one through four are dismissed through their boxes.
  • If you or a caregiver are picking up your child from the back yard, you must stay along the side of the yard–along the fence on the 2nd Street side or along the minischool on the 1st Street side. No parents or caregivers are allowed into the boxes, and this is not a time to talk to teachers. Only one adult per child is permitted in the yard. You must make eye contact with the teacher who will then send your child to you. Fourth graders who have permission to self-dismiss will be let out of the gates as their teachers are walking the class down the stairs to the yard.
  • Whichever gate you are entering through, it is essential that you follow the instructions the staff at the gates are giving. On 1st Street it is very important that parents not enter as classes are going into the yard. On 2nd Street we generally call only the classes that are already in the yard and ask others to wait until their class comes down. It is very important that as you enter you keep moving toward the back of the yard and not block the gate.
  • No dogs or bikes are permitted in either the front or back yard or in any of the front yard dismissal areas.
  • Strollers make dismissal much more challenging. I know that at times these cannot be avoided, but if it is possible to not bring a stroller to dismissal, that would be extremely helpful.
  • Afterschool programs have designated meeting spots, and children will be brought to these spots at dismissal time. Older children in the main building will be sent there on their own as the class goes outside (except in the case of after schools that pickup outside). Younger children and children from the minischool will be escorted by staff. These are the dismissal spots:
    • Kids Orbit (program meets in the school)–Lunchroom
    • CBE & Beansprouts–Auditorium
    • Mindful Sports–Outside behind minischool (near garden)
    • Gamelab–Outside, garden area
    • All other after school programs–Gym
  • Dismissal in the backyard does take a few minutes, given the number of children. Your children will be supervised until they are picked up. Please be patient and do not worry!
  • Please be on time to pick up your children. Kindergarten pick up time is 2:45. Pick up for all other grades is 2:50. Children not picked up on time will be brought to the table areas near the garden (grades 1-4) and then to the lobby or directly to the lobby (K & 5) where they will be supervised and parents will be called.

COVID Protocols

  • The large majority of PS 321 students are vaccinated–last year over 95%–which is the
    best protection against COVID. If your children have not been vaccinated, we strongly
    encourage you to get them vaccinated. There is a vaccination finder page on the DOE website. If you need assistance finding a vaccination site, please contact our parent coordinator Deb Orr at
  • All staff are vaccinated, and in order to enter the school building, other adults, including parents, must be vaccinated.
  • The DOE is no longer administering random in-school COVID testing. However, all children and staff members will be given 4 rapid at-home test kits each month. Because some of the tests get packaged in boxes with 2 tests, we will send home 2 tests per child every other week. You should be getting 2 tests for each child later this week. These tests should be used if your child exhibits any COVID-like symptoms, is exposed to someone who tests positive, or has engaged in other high risk activities such as travel. In addition, in case of exposure at school, additional tests will be distributed.
  • Please keep your children home if they are sick, whether or not they test positive for COVID.
  • If your child tests positive for COVID, please email the child’s teacher and me at We must report all COVID cases to the DOE. Children who test positive must stay home for 5 days. If they have no symptoms or symptoms are improving, they may return on day 6, but must wear a mask from day 6 to day 10.
  • All classrooms have at least two air purifiers, and larger spaces have more. In addition, teachers keep at least one window up to help with ventilation.

This letter is already very long, so I am going to hold off on giving you other information about
school, including introducing school personnel you should know. I will send a letter next week about that.

I hope to see many Kindergarten parents and parents of new admits in other grades at the PTA
New Family Breakfast next Friday, 9/16 at 8:45am in the backyard! And, our first PTA
meeting and volunteer fair will be the evening of Thursday, 9/22. We’ll begin in the auditorium
and then move into the gym.

After the highly unusual past two and a half years, it is particularly exciting to start this more
normal school year! We are so fortunate to have a community where parents and staff support
each other and work together for the good of our amazing children. I’m looking forward to a
fabulous school year!


Liz Phillips