2023-2024 School Day Expectations & Parent Handbook

Daily Schedule

LevelSchool Schedule
Toddler8:00 am -3:30 pm
K38:30 am -11:30 am
K4-6th Grade8:30 am – 3:30 pm
Adolescent Program8:10 am – 3:30 pm
2023-2024 school schedule
7:00 AM – 8:00 AM
Before School
* 7:45 AM – 8:00 AM Breakfast Club for before-school students only in the gym.
* 8:00 AM – 8:15 AM — Breakfast Club for all students in the gym.
7:45 -8:15 AM
Breakfast Club
* 7:45 AM – 8:00 AM Breakfast Club for before-school students only in the gym.
* 8:00 AM – 8:15 AM — Breakfast Club for all students in the gym.
* 8:05 AM 17th Street Gate is unlocked for 17th Street Drop-off. Adolescent students should go straight to their classrooms. Elementary Students not enrolled in beforecare should stay on the playground or attend Breakfast Club. They may not go upstairs until after 8:15 AM.
* Students and their families are not permitted on the 2nd and 3rd floors before 8:15 AM to allow for teacher prep time.
* 8:10 AM Adolescent Program School Day Begins.
8:15-8:30 AM
School Day Arrivals
*Toddlers/Children’s House are walked to their classrooms by their parents/guardians.
*Elementary/AP Students are dropped off on 17th Street to go to their classrooms.
8:35 AM & After
Tardy/Late Arrival
* 17th Street Gate is closed.
* Late arrivals should come to the main entrance on 18th Street.
* Office staff will provide students with a tardy slip. Families should call the office by 8:30 AM if they are going to be late and need a hot lunch.
11:30 AM
K3 Dismissal
* K3s not attending CHECK complete their day at 11:30 am.
* Parents will come in and pick up their child from the classroom each day.
3:30 PM
School Day Dismissal
* 3:25 PM Lobby Doors open to allow parents upstairs for dismissal.
* 3:30 PM Classroom doors open to dismiss end-of-the-day students. Families may come in and pick up their children from the classroom each day.
* AP students, not enrolled in Neighborhood House or Highland after-school program,  will be on 17th Street for dismissal each day by 3:35 pm. 
* 3:25-3:45 PM 17th Street Gate is unlocked for AP Neighborhood House dismissal, daycare vans, Adolescent dismissal & Upper El Students whose families have indicated it is okay to release their student to the 17th Street Gate for dismissal. Gate is locked at 3:45 PM.
3:45 PM – 6:00 PM
Afterschool Dismissal

* 3:45 PM Any students not picked up (and not enrolled in afterschool) will be brought to the main office.
Parents are invited to pick up their after-school children from their afterschool classrooms.
* 6:00 PM Any students not picked up will be brought to the main office. Families enrolled in early afterschool who pick up after 4:30 pm will be charged a late pick-up fee. Families enrolled in late afterschool who pick up after 6:00 PM will be charged a late pick-up fee.


School Start Time

School starts promptly at 8:30 am (8:10 am for AP). In a Montessori environment, students need three hours of open, uninterrupted time to choose independent work, become deeply engaged, and repeat this work to their satisfaction; therefore, your children must arrive at school on time. Being five or ten minutes late may seem like a minor issue, but it disrupts the rhythm and flow of the entire Montessori classroom. If your child needs to arrive before 8:15 am, they must join the Before School program or participate in the breakfast program that begins at 8:00 am.

Since Toddlers’ school day begins at 8:00 am and requires a consistent schedule, late arrivals are strongly discouraged. Toddler arrivals after 8:30 am will not be admitted without special permission from the Lead Teacher.


Because our parking lot is so busy, patience and caution are required. Please drive slowly and be careful when entering and exiting the parking lot. There is also street parking on 18th St. and Juneau Ave.

Parking Tips

  • Parking Maps are available on the website.
  • Arrive early in winter! Snow build-up limits parking spaces and narrows the street. Parking during the winter months will take extra patience and time. Plus, you will need extra time to help your child remove winter attire once in the building.

Morning Drop-Off

All Toddler and Children’s House (K3-K5) students must be walked into the building during morning drop-off. This means that parents will need to park in the parking lot or on the street to bring their students to their classrooms, where they will sign them in with their teachers.

Lower Elementary (grades 1-3), Upper Elementary (grades 4-6), and Adolescent (grades 7-8) students should be dropped off on 17th Street by the playground. A staff person will greet them and ensure they enter the building safely. Please do not park on 17th Street. This is for drop-off only.

Morning drop-off and afternoon pickup are very busy times for HCS. To keep everyone safe and on time, we have set the following rules:

General Rules

  • If you escort your child into the building, use the 18th Street main entrance. Park in the parking lot on 18th Street, Highland Ave., or Juneau Ave.
  • Do not park on or in front of the loading dock just south of the Main Entrance on 18th St.
  • Handicapped spaces are limited; please do not use these spaces if you aren’t permitted.

Gate Hours

The East Gate 17th Street: Open and staffed mornings from 8:05 am to 8:35 am for the car drop offline. If you are late for drop-off, proceed to the main entrance on 18th Street.


Pick-up Time

Children’s House through the Adolescent program can be picked up from inside the building at 3:30 pm. AP students will be dismissed to 17th Street at 3:30 pm. Upper Elementary students need written permission from their parent/guardian to be dismissed to 17th Street at the end of the day. Please email Executive Director, Ms. Tracy.

  • Doors in the office will be closed until 3:25 pm.
  • Classroom doors will be closed until 3:30 pm, when children may be picked up by their parent/guardian.

Pick-up time for 3-year-old children is 11:30 am unless your child is enrolled in the CHECK program. The all-school pick-up for students is at 3:30 pm unless your child is in the Afterschool program. Students in K4-8th grade should be picked up no earlier than 5 minutes before dismissal unless an excuse is provided to school staff at the time of pickup. Picking your child up early may impact their attendance record.

Upper Elementary students only may be released to the 17th Street Gate at the end of the day with written permission from a parent to Ms. Tracy. Parents can email Ms. Tracy to communicate to the school if they would like their older child released from 17th Street. Children’s House and Lower Elementary children are not allowed to exit 17th Street (even with parent permission) unless they are escorted by an older (Upper El or Adolescent) sibling. 

If your student is missing school due to frequent early pick-ups, you may be contacted by the School Social Worker and a conference may be scheduled to discuss your child’s attendance record and problem-solve.


Excused Absences

Parents/guardians are responsible for contacting the school as early as possible if a child will be absent. Please provide us with whatever information concerning the absence is available. If your child is not in school and you have not called in, the school will contact you within two hours of the beginning of the school day.

For all Children’s House, Elementary, and Adolescent students, a student’s absence becomes excused when a written statement by the parent/guardian is submitted to the school. The written excuse must be presented within forty-eight (48) hours after the student’s return to school, or the absence is considered truancy.

The following are excused absences. All other absences are truancies.

  • Personal illness
  • COVID-19 quarantine and isolation
  • Funerals
  • Required legal appearances
  • Designated religious holidays
  • Medical or dental appointments
  • Family emergencies – student absences that contribute to the health, safety, or financial well-being of the family
  • Educationally beneficial activities approved by the Executive Director

Parent-excused absences – Parents or guardians may excuse an absence by submitting written notification to the school for any or no reason prior to the student’s absence. A student may be excused for up to ten (10) days per year under this provision.

Excused Absence Limit

When your student has reached the 10-day excused absence limit, all further absences will be recorded as unexcused absences (except for absences reviewed and approved by the Executive Director due to the nature of the circumstances) and the absence protocol will be as follows:

  • 0 to 4 Unexcused Absences: Calls will be made to the student’s parent/guardian by the Classroom Teacher, School Secretary, and/or School Social Worker to inform the parent of the attendance policy and work to find solutions.
  • 5 Unexcused Absences: A Habitual truancy letter will be sent home notifying the parent/guardian that their student has five unexcused absences. A meeting will be scheduled with the School Social Worker to discuss attendance support.
  • 8 Unexcused Absences: Another letter will be sent home with the student’s attendance record, notifying the parent/guardian that the student has reached eight unexcused absences.
  • 12-15 Unexcused Absences: A letter will be sent home and/or the parent/guardian will be contacted via phone call to schedule a second meeting with the School Social Worker and the Classroom Teacher to discuss attendance further and create an Attendance Support Plan.
  • 15 + Days Missed: When a student’s attendance reaches this point, the student’s case may be referred to the Truancy Abatement Program or the District Attorney’s office for further action.

School Nutrition

Breakfast Club

Our school participates in the MPS Universal Free Breakfast program. Breakfast from this program will be served in the gym free of charge to all children who want it from 8:00-8:15. We will not serve a full breakfast after this time, so please be sure your child has breakfast if they are going to be arriving after 8:15.


In addition to breakfast, parents are invited to send a healthy morning snack for their child. Parents who would like to provide snacks for their class should reach out to their classroom teacher or room parent for snack requests (fruits, vegetables, crackers, etc.).

Lunch Program

Nutrition is an everyday part of our program. All children must inform their teacher upon arrival in the morning if they are participating in the hot lunch program for that day. If your child is going to be tardy, please call the school before 8:30 am to order a meal. If you do not notify the school before that time, you will be required to bring a cold lunch for your child. All meals provided by HCS follow USDA guidelines. Lunch is served in the classroom. Menus are provided to cover the four primary food groups, and varieties of food are served to enhance and develop a broad sense of taste. Our hot lunch program is currently provided through a contract with Milwaukee Public Schools. A monthly menu is available in the school office and posted outside the kitchen and the toddler program’s classroom door.

We encourage parents who send lunch with their children to only have nutritional food items in their lunch each day. Please try to eliminate junk food from your child’s diet. We ask that if you are going to send a snack or treat to school with your child that it not be sweets, candy or junk food. Foods that are overly sweetened or salted might not be served.

Toddler Lunch Fees

Toddlers are served well-balanced nutritious items for breakfast, as well as morning and afternoon snacks each day. Parents are encouraged to bring a healthy bag lunch for their toddlers. However, participation in the hot lunch program is available if needed. The cost of a daily lunch is $4.50. Because toddlers are not yet considered MPS students, only those receiving Wisconsin Shares funding are eligible to receive lunch at no charge.

Health Policies

When To Keep Children Home

Children who are sick require the special attention that being at home provides. Children cannot be permitted at school with any of the following:

  • Fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea – within the previous 24-hour period
  • Draining rash
  • Eye discharge or pink eye
  • Sore throat
  • Communicable diseases, such as head lice, ringworm, etc., require treatment (see Main Office for exact details and processes)

When Illness Occurs at School

Children not well enough to go outside for playtime are not well enough to come to school. If illness occurs while your child is at school, the office staff will notify you. Your child will be sent to the administrative office and cared for by the administrative staff until he or she is picked up. You are responsible for arranging for or picking up your child from school as soon as possible. Children may return to school when:

  • Symptoms are decreasing
  • There is no discharge from rash
  • They have a fever of less than 100 degrees (without medication) for 24 hours
  • They have had no vomiting or diarrhea for 24 hours
  • They can tolerate full activities, including recess

Communicable Disease Policy

In the event of communicable diseases, also known as infectious diseases or transmissible diseases, notices will be sent home with children who have been exposed.  A doctor’s release may be required upon returning students absent due to a communicable disease.  All communicable diseases will be posted on the bulletin board within the classroom for parents’ review.

COVID-19 Updated Board Motion (effective 8-22-22, amended 2-17-23)

Highland Community School (“HCS”) will update its COVID-19 policies as follows: 

Current school case rates (including students and staff) will be the primary metric for determining mitigation efforts. However, when CDC community levels reach High, we will consider all-school masking. When CDC reports High levels for Milwaukee County, HCS Board will review HCS case rates and relevant data in combination and decide on masks at that time.

Regardless of school case rates, Highland commits to doing the following:

  • Encourage staff & students to stay home when they aren’t feeling well
  • Request that all staff & families report positive cases to the school office as soon as possible
  • Track positive cases of students & staff reported to the school
  • Report positive cases to the Milwaukee Health Department, if requested to do so
  •  Require a 5-day quarantine for anyone who tests positive. Students/staff can return on day 6 when symptoms are resolving (without fever for 24 hours), follow that with 5 days of wearing a mask when around others. Negative tests will not be required to return to school/work
  • Register as part of the WI DHS testing program so we can offer outbreak testing as needed
  •  Send home a Covid exposure letter when a case is reported in a classroom. The letter will include information on COVID-19 symptoms, testing & treatment
  • Continuing to focus on ventilation recommendations by the CDC within our building by keeping windows open, replacing air filters regularly & using portable air purifiers in each classroom
  •  Maintain a simplified version of the Covid dashboard, updated weekly, that informs families of current case rates at school
  •  Allow parents and visitors back into the building for pick-up, drop-off, and community & classroom events

Regarding masking:

  • Highland Community School will be mask-optional for all students and staff.
  •  When positive case rates of students and staff rise above 2%, masking will be required indoors for all students and staff. Parents will be notified via Notes Home when cases rise above 1.5% as a reminder of our mask policy.
  •  Mask requirements will take effect the following Monday after meeting the above-stated criteria (or sooner if feasible) & will be communicated to our families via the weekly Notes Home newsletter or email.
  •  Masking will continue until school case rates drop below 1%. This will be communicated to families via the weekly Notes Home newsletter or via email. 

Additionally, the following mitigation measures will not be implemented:

  • Regular COVID-19 testing for the broader community (e.g., parents, siblings, and other family members) will not be available on-site at Highland as the ‘22-23 DHS K-12 testing program is not currently supporting such efforts. Family members must use Milwaukee community testing sites offered by MHD or other agencies.
  • Regular staff testing will no longer be conducted.
  •  Contact tracing of positive cases, including notifying close contacts and requiring staff to keep seating charts will no longer be in effect

All changes specified in this Motion will go into effect Monday, August 22nd, 2022.

COVID-19 Isolation Guidance

If your child is diagnosed with or tests positive for COVID-19, please notify the school immediately. Your student should stay home from school for a minimum of five days following their diagnosis (positive test or symptom onset). If their symptoms improve and they feel well enough to come to school, they may return on day 6. They will be required to wear a mask through day 10. More information on COVID-19 Isolation and Precautions can be found on the CDC website. 

If your student has been exposed to COVID-19 either through your household, school, travel, or other venue, they may continue to attend school as long as they feel healthy and are symptom-free. It is highly recommended that anyone with known exposure to COVID-19 mask for ten days after exposure and test for COVID-19 after five days.  More information can be found on the CDC website under “What to Do If You Were Exposed to COVID-19.”

Other School Policies

Gender Inclusion Policy

Highland Community School adopts the MPS district-wide Gender Inclusion Guidance about how to ensure best the protection of students and staff regarding gender inclusion. The topic of gender inclusion continues to be an evolving issue. The MPS Guidance is based on best practices and will be updated regularly as the district receives guidance from the courts and other government agencies.


Highland Community School does not provide transportation. It is the responsibility of parents or legal guardians to arrange transportation for their children to and from Highland Community School, whether by personal vehicle or public transportation. Highland School cannot, under any circumstances, coordinate or facilitate carpools or personal transportation arrangements for families. Parents are solely responsible for making their own transportation arrangements, including coordinating carpools with other families.

Bullying Prevention Policy

Highland Community School adopted a comprehensive Bullying Prevention Policy on 12-15-22. The full policy can be found here.

Family Handbook