GMA General Policies
Gwynedd-Mercy Academy is accredited by the Middle States Association and holds membership in the National Catholic Education Association and in the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Gwynedd-Mercy Academy does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national or ethnic origin or in its admission or employment practices. Sexual harassment is unacceptable conduct and will not be tolerated. All employees and students are responsible for ensuring that this school is free from all forms of sexual harassment. Gwynedd-Mercy Academy has developed an AIDS policy in relation to the admission and continued attendance of students, and to the employment of administration, faculty and staff. The policy is available in the school office.
Below are highlights from the GMA Parent Student Handbook distributed at the onset of the school year to all families. Complete and more detailed policy information is included in the Handbook.
- GMA Parent Student Handbook Distribution
- Academic Responsibilities and Policies
- Behavior and Discipline Code
- Cell Phone Policy for Students
- Communication with Parents
- Dress Code and Personal Appearance
- Uniform Code
- Dress Down Day Guidelines
- Early Closings
- Emergency Contact System K12 Alerts
- Fire and Security Drills
- Health Policies
- Honor Code and Witness to Mercy Anti-Bullying Policy
- Inclement Weather Cancellations, Delays, and Emergency Conditions
- Personal Property Inspection
- Security Camera Policy
- Student Supervision
- Technology Guidelines
- Visitors and Volunteers - Parent Clearances
The Parent/Student Handbook provide parents/guardians and students with important information about school policies and procedures. It also delineates school regulations which are contracted between the school and its parents/guardians and students. It is distributed on Book Day and it is the responsibility of parents and students to be aware of the information within.
Academic Honors are acknowledged at the end of each trimester and at end of the school year for students in grades 4-8. Distinguished Honors are awarded to those students who have received a final grade of 95 or above in all major subject areas, with no grade lower than a “VG” in all enrichment areas. Academic Honors are awarded to those students in each homeroom who have received a final grade of 90 or above in all major subject areas, with no grade lower than an “S” in all enrichment areas.
All children need to develop confidence in their abilities and a positive attitude toward learning. Children are graded according to their achievement levels. Report cards are issued three times a year and posted in RenWeb, our school information system. Scholastic Progress Reports are distributed midway through each trimester and followed up by a parent-teacher-student conference to discuss academic progress. At all levels, when a faculty member or parent feels it advisable, a conference can be arranged to discuss the progress of a student.
Assessment and testing are means to determine the progress of each student as well as the effectiveness of the school program. Varying forms of student assessment, such as observation, subject matter tests, homework assignments and research projects, in conjunction with the results of the TerraNova standardized testing for grades 2-7, provide a valid assessment of each child’s ability and progress. TerraNova tests are given during one week in the spring on dates specified by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Test results are utilized extensively by our faculty and Director of Curriculum to enhance the student learning process.
Books and Stationery
Required books and initial stationery supplies are distributed on Book Day. Some books are on loan from the State, while others are purchased, and thus become the property of the student. Books must be covered and carried to and from school in a book bag. Books lost or destroyed must be paid for by the student. Book bags on wheels are not permitted for students in grades kindergarten through 3.
Concerned Status and Academic Probation (Grades 4-8)
Students who experience academic difficulties will be closely monitored. When the level of difficulty appears to place a student in jeopardy of falling below acceptable standards, they will be placed either on Concerned Status, or if the situation is more serious, Academic Probation. Any exceptions must be approved by a member of the faculty or staff, and these exceptions will be documented and an explanation will be kept in the student's file. However, neither Concerned Status nor Academic Probation will appear on a student’s official transcript.
Gwynedd-Mercy Academy provides a quality education through a comprehensive and integrated curriculum that is aligned with National Standards in all curriculum areas. Individual student learning styles are recognized and addressed in a multi-sensory environment. Students are actively engaged in the learning process and are challenged to apply higher order thinking skills as they compose, create, experiment, and discover. Gwynedd-Mercy Academy fosters a learning environment that supports all learners. Diversity in learning is supported by differentiated instruction, small group support, and a partnership with school and home.
Gwynedd-Mercy Academy believes in the value of independent study, good study skills, self-discipline, and the reinforcement of material introduced in class. Homework is considered an important part of Gwynedd-Mercy Academy academics, and completion of assignments is a sign of respect and appropriate academic behavior. Therefore, students are expected to complete their assignments and get them to school on time (Parents may check homework assignments through RenWeb and Google Classroom).
Students are encouraged to use their daily assignment books so that they do not waste time conferring with classmates about assigned homework. If a student is involved in an extracurricular activity, athletic practice or game that runs late, they are still expected to keep up with schoolwork. Scheduling time wisely, planning, and using available time to full advantage are very important homework skills.
Learning Differences Policy
Some students have learning difficulties that necessitate accommodations to the regular academic program. Our intent is to have an accurate assessment of strengths, to understand areas of weakness and to discover each individual student’s ability to compensate for specific weaknesses. With this critical information, a helpful accommodation plan can be established that will potentially enhance the student’s learning process in the classroom.nts
Parent Assistance with Writing Projects
A student’s first resource in seeking help during the process of writing a major paper is the teacher who assigned it. A second resource is the school librarian. Parents can provide additional support. However, it is sometimes difficult to determine what kind of help is appropriate. As one teacher observed, “The moment you pick up a pen and start writing on the student’s paper, you’re in dangerous land.” In response to this concern, Gwynedd-Mercy Academy has prepared some guidelines and suggestions for parents about “how much help is too much.”
Parent Communication Related to Academics
When a student experiences difficulty in a subject area, the teacher will typically communicate this to the parents by email. If a parent is concerned with a student’s performance in a specific subject area, those concerns should first be presented directly to the individual teacher. If a student experiences difficulty in more than one subject, the parent should contact the Vice Principal, who will then engage the assistance of the School Counselor and Director of Curriculum, in addition to the individual teachers. For concerns of a more general nature, parents may choose to contact the student’s Homeroom teacher. Requests for parent/teacher conferences may be initiated by either parents or teachers. In some cases, it may be necessary/beneficial for the parents to meet with the entire teaching team. Periodically during the school year, there are scheduled opportunities for parent/teacher conferences.
Conferences are scheduled twice a year at progress report distribution for parents/guardians and students to meet with homeroom teachers to review progress and discuss concerns. Parents are encouraged to meet with teachers whenever needed. Kindergarten students do not accompany parents for the first scheduled meeting. Other than that first kindergarten meeting, all students are required to attend the progress report conferences. Third trimester conferences are planned upon teacher or parent request.
As noted in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, “Plagiarism involves two kinds of wrongs. Using another person’s ideas, information, or expressions without acknowledging that person’s work constitutes intellectual theft. Passing off another person’s ideas, information or expressions as your own to get a better grade or to gain some advantage constitutes fraud. So plagiarism is both stealing and cheating.” Students may easily avoid plagiarism by crediting all sources by means of proper citation. When students use original ideas, charts, document tables, graphs, statistics, Internet sources, or other material – as stated, paraphrased or summarized – they are responsible for giving credit to the person who originated the idea. Copies of MLA Guidelines are available in the Library. Students are urged to seek out any faculty member for help with questions about plagiarism.
RenWeb is our online student information database software system. Every teacher posts assignments on www.renweb.com. Homework, lesson plans and projects are listed by the homeroom and special area teachers. Each parent is expected to visit this site for student assignments and classroom announcements as needed. Registration for first time users is required. School access code is: GMAE-PA. For parents who wish to utilize RenWeb on a smartphone, rather than a tablet or PC, they may download an app for a small fee.
Students are expected to maintain appropriate behavior, general civility, and decency at all times, both on and off campus. A school’s function is to promote courtesy, consideration, and an atmosphere of friendliness and concern. Students and teachers should always respect the rights, feelings, belongings, and safety of others. Showing care and decency towards others will ensure a pleasant and workable atmosphere in which all individuals can benefit fully from being a member of the Gwynedd-Mercy Academy community.
The following are areas in which students shall take responsibility for their behavior:
- Abide by the Honor Code
- Abide by the Technology Guidelines as found in the Acceptable Use Policy
- Make guests feel welcome
- Give undivided attention when attending liturgies/prayer services
- Behaving appropriately in the hallways, during lunchtime and while using all school campus facilities, both inside and out
- Behavior off school grounds should reflect the ideals of Gwynedd-Mercy Academy and the Sisters of Mercy
Students who attend Gwynedd-Mercy Academy must exhibit a truly Christian attitude rooted in respect for others and self. Through self-discipline, a student refrains from behavior which would disrupt or hinder the learning atmosphere of the school. We incorporate a discipline code in order to respond with consistency to discipline issues that occur within the school setting. Discipline is enforced in order to help the student change an unacceptable behavior to an acceptable one. Parental cooperation and support for the teachers are essential.
The primary disciplinarian will be the Vice Principal. For serious disciplinary offenses, the Vice Principal will consult with the Principal and may consult with the Grade Level Teams. Parents will be notified of any significant action taken. A Discipline System is used for policy infractions.
Prompt and regular attendance in all classes is an integral part of a student’s performance in school and essential for the development of personal responsibility and for continuous growth in the student’s learning process. Students are expected to be present and on time on all school days designated on the calendar. Perfect attendance means a student has never been absent or late. Students will not be released from school during the regular school day without prior written request from the parent, except in cases of injury, illness or other emergency
- Absence - Attendance is important for all students. Personal development and academic success are related to regular school attendance. A parent must notify the school by 9:00 AM on the morning of the absence with a telephone call (a message may be left on the machine if parent calls earlier than 8:00 am) or an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or beforehand with a note AND follow up with a formal written note to the homeroom teacher when the child returns. The note is kept on file. In case of frequent absences, a doctor’s certificate may be requested before admitting the student to class. If a child is absent, please refer to the RenWeb link on the GMA website for assignments. When students accumulate ten or more absences in a trimester, their records will receive administrative review.
- Appointments During the School Day - Parents are urged to arrange doctor and dental appointments on school holidays or after school. If this is impossible, written notice must be sent to the office by the date of the appointment indicating the time the student must be dismissed from class. Children will meet the parent in the office at the time designated on the note and must be signed out in the office by a parent or designated person. A written note including the date, time and name of the person authorized to pick up is also required from the parent if someone other than the parent or guardian is picking up the child before dismissal.
- Early Pick Up - Parents/guardians picking up their children prior to normal dismissal should send a note or email early in the morning to their child’s homeroom teacher indicating time and reason for early dismissal. Parents may park in the front of the school and report to the Main Office to sign out their children.
- Lateness - Parents who drive their children to school are asked to drop the children off between 7:45 and 8:05 AM. Students are expected to be in their classrooms by 8:05 AM. Students who are late, but before 8:10 AM, will be dropped off at the “B” door to enter the building and go directly to their homerooms. As the “B” door is locked at 8:05 AM, parents should remain until a late student enters the building. In homeroom they will sign in late and the teacher will log this into the student's attendance record. Any parent arriving with a student after 8:10 AM, must enter the building with his or her child and proceed to the Main Office. Children who are late have a difficult time starting the day in a calm and prepared away. If a bus arrives after 8:05 AM, the oldest student on the bus will report the late arrival to the office and the remaining students will report to homeroom. Frequent lateness impacts perfect attendance.
- School Hours - Regular school days begin at 8:05 AM and end at 3:10 PM. Noon dismissal days end at 12:00 PM.
- Vacations - Family trips for business or pleasure are strongly discouraged during the school term. If parents consider the trip absolutely necessary, a written notification of the extended absence must be sent to the office at least one week prior to the trip in order for the child to receive assignments. Students should refer to RenWeb to complete homework responsibilities during their absences. Upon return to school, the student must present the completed work, signed by the parent, to the teacher(s). Students are responsible for test make-up and assignments and projects missed.
Out of respect for the need to safeguard what has become an important line of communication between students and parents in the event of an emergency, we allow students to bring cell phones to school. However, out of respect for the rights of others and in order to maintain an effective learning environment, cell phones may not be on or visible during the school day.
The Gwynedd-Mercy Academy cell phone policy, which applies to any personal electronic communication devices including beepers, Pocket PCs, smart watches, etc., is as follows:
- Cell phones must be turned OFF and shall not be visible from the time the student arrives on school property until he/she leaves at the end of the day. This includes riding the bus, standing in line in the AM, and bus and car lines at the end of the day.
- If a student is involved in an after-school activity such as CARES, sports, clubs, etc. permission must be granted by the supervising adult for a student cell phone use.
- Cell phones must be kept in a student’s backpack or locker for the school day.
- A violation of this policy will result in consequences appropriate to the violation which include demerits, detention or suspension.
The faculty of Gwynedd-Mercy Academy are experienced professionals and consider themselves partners with parents in their child’s education. Mutual respect is essential and good communication is indispensable. If at any time parents would like to discuss any aspect of the child’s development, please contact the teacher through email or call the office directly to leave a message. Teachers will respond within one business day as they are in the classroom during school hours
Written notes, signed by the parents or an email are required for the following (for security reasons, phone calls):
- Absence from school
- Early dismissal
- Field trips
- Medication taken during the school day 
- Changing the usual transportation home
Communications from school are conveyed via Virtual Mercy Memos which are emailed to parents on each Wednesday. It is expected that parents will carefully review this information and respond if required. In order to ensure that all parents receive complete school communication, it is very important that parents keep GMA informed concerning family contact changes throughout the year. Please notify our Director of Database and IT, Mr. Tyler Mitchell, of any email, address or phone number changes at email@example.com.
The GMA School Directory, known as the “Yellow Book,” lists school and family addresses, email addresses and phone numbers. Homeroom information is listed in the back of the book for quick reference. The directory is sponsored by the Parents’ Organization and is sent to families in early fall. The directory information is compiled solely for the convenience of parents, students, and faculty and is not to be used for any other commercial, philanthropic or organizational purposes.
Students are to be well groomed and in proper school dress everywhere on campus throughout the school day. The school day begins when a student enters the building. The school day ends at 3:10 p.m.
Regular school dress requirements/prohibitions are as follows:
- Clothing should be in good repair with no rips, holes, or unfinished hemlines
- The ensemble should be reasonably free of wrinkles
- Students are expected to wear the approved Gwynedd-Mercy Academy uniform with a visible belt, visible socks, and proper shoes
- All students should tuck shirts in so that belts are visible for boys and skirt waistbands for girls (grades 3-8)
- Caps, hats, or hoods may not be worn inside buildings
- Clothing depicting alcohol, tobacco, drugs, or other objectionable material is prohibited
- Hair should be kept neat and clean and be out of the eyes. No bizarre or trendy haircuts are allowed. No color treated hair allowed.
- Boys’ hair must be clearly off the collar, and not below the ears.
- Facial hair, body piercing, and tattoos are not allowed (religious exemptions must be approved by the Principal)
Students in violation of the Dress Code will receive demerits
COVID-19 Uniform Policy Announcement: Recognizing the need for heightened sanitation during the upcoming year, we are making some adjustments to our uniform policy.
- Students may choose which version of the school uniform they wish to wear on non-gym days. This includes the gym uniform, the summer uniform or the winter uniform.
- All students in grades K-8 should wear the gym uniform on their gym day
- No boys' ties or blazers, which are dry clean only, are to be worn except on special occasions which will be announced in advance, for example the Student Council Induction or Student Picture Day.
- All students should own, and be prepared to wear with advance notice, one full winter version of the school uniform.
- Gym uniforms must be the GMA-logo-ed shorts, t-shirts, sweat pants and sweat shirts available for purchase at Flynn O'Hara.
This revised uniform policy has been developed in response to COVID-19 conditions. As conditions change, the policy may be adjusted.
Used school uniform items in good, useable condition are also for sale on Book Day and throughout the school year. For information on the Used Uniform Sale please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pre-K(4) students wear gym uniforms each day throughout the year.
Gwynedd-Mercy Academy Uniform Code
Hair and Jewelry Code
On occasion the GMA students will have a “Dress Down Day” for purposes of school-wide fundraising or celebrations. On “Dress Down Days” students may wear clothing other than their uniform. Clothing must be school-appropriate and students must adhere to the following dress code rules:
- Follow the theme of the dress down day
- Jeans, sweat pants, long pants, and Capri-length pants are permitted
- Leggings and form-fitting pants must be worn with a longer top of at least fingertip length
- No shorts
- Writing and images on clothing must be school-appropriate
- No flip-flops or sandals.
IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT EACH CHILD KNOWS HIS OR HER PLAN FOR GOING HOME IN THE EVENT OF AN UNEXPECTED EARLY DISMISSAL (for example, inclement weather).
Any change in the normal transportation home should be sent to the homeroom teacher in writing that morning. Each child should know whether to:
1. GO HOME ON THE BUS. Child should know the family plan—e.g. parent is at home or key is hidden or go to neighbor, etc.
2. WAIT AT SCHOOL FOR PARENT TO PICK UP.
If a situation necessitates early dismissal, K12 Alerts, a telephone messaging system, will be activated for each family. A voice message is sent to all families simultaneously. Students who would normally go home in car line may be picked up at any time. We will announce any early school closings on the GMA website (www.gmaelem.org).
Parents will receive information via K12 Alerts, our automated notification system implemented to inform families of delayed openings, school closings due to inclement weather, or other emergency information. Parents much register their preferred contact information at to receive messages.
- K12 Alerts is GMA’s automated emergency notification system. This system sends text and voice messages to all emergency contacts registered within K12 Alerts. This system is tested at least once at the beginning of each year. Outside of testing, it will only be utilized in emergency and/or inclement weather situations. Following the annual test, it is the parent’s responsibility to notify the school office if any of the methods of communication do not reach them.
Steps to Follow:
- Announcements will be sent to each family's phone number that you provide to K12 Alerts.
- All GMA families must complete the K12 Alerts sign up process in order to be notified of emergencies or school closings. Parents and guardians may choose to receive text messages, phone calls and/or email notifications.
- Click on the K12 Alerts logo to set up, add or change any of your notification telephone numbers or would like to add an e-mail address.
- If you have any questions about the K12 Alerts notification system, please contact email@example.com.
Emergency drills for fire and security are conducted at regular intervals throughout the year. Directions are reviewed with the faculty and students and procedures for the drill are posted in the school. Students are to follow the instructions of the teachers in a quick, quiet, and orderly manner. All visitors on campus at the time of a drill are expected to participate fully, following all procedures as instructed by staff and faculty.
- Communicable Diseases
No student, absent from school because of conditions listed below, may return to school before the specified time period.
CHICKEN POX When all pox have scabs that are dried up
FEVER Fever free for 24 hours
LICE After treatment is given and no nits are present
GERMAN MEASLES 4 days from onset of rash
MUMPS 9 days from onset of swelling
PINK EYE 24 hours after medication is started
SCARLET FEVER 24 hours after medication is started
STREP 24 hours on medication
WHOOPING COUGH 7 days after medication is started
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has mandated that all children entering Kindergarten or First Grade present documented proof that the following immunizations have been received:
- DT (Diphtheria/Tetanus) 4 doses - one after the fourth birthday
- Polio 3 doses
- MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) 2 doses –one dose after 12 months of age
- Hepatitis B 3 doses of vaccine- last dose after 6 months
- Varivax (Chicken Pox) 2 doses (or documentation of live disease)
After the basic series of three Oral Polio Vaccine, Diphtheria and Tetanus, boosters are due between four and six years of age. For students entering 7th grade, one dose of tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis (Tdap) is required if it has been more than 5 years since the last tetanus immunization and one dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV) is also necessary. Please inform the school nurse, in writing, when boosters are given. Other immunizations may be required.
Dentist and Physician Reports, along with an Elementary School Student Health History form, are required for students entering Kindergarten or any student entering from out of state. Subsequent examinations and forms are required from the Dentist in grades 3 and 7 and from the Physician in grade 6 (scoliosis exam is also due at this time).
It is generally recommended that prescription medicines be given to the student before and/or after school in accordance with the physician’s directions. In those rare instances where the medication must be given during the school day, it will be administered by the School Nurse. Parents/guardians are required to sign a medication authorization form, which is available from school, if the student must take medication at the school.
Prescription and non-prescription over the counter medications must be in the original container with a note from the parent and physician to include: name of medicine, dosage, time of administration, dates to be given, and reason for medication. Medications may be sent in by the day or week. It is recommended that students not carry a full prescription bottle to be taken back and forth daily.
It is the goal of GMA to partner with parents to ensure a safe environment while children are attending school. With the understanding that GMA is not a “peanut free” school, if a student with a peanut allergy attends GMA, the school will partner with the student’s parents to educate teachers, students, and other parents.
Teachers and staff have been trained on what it means to have a life-threatening allergy, precautions, and treatment. They also have procedures to adhere to and are familiar with students who have life-threatening allergies. They have also been trained on the use of the epi-pen.
In the lunch room, there is a designated “peanut free zone.” GMA does not prohibit peanut products at lunch or police the lunches of students. Parents are encouraged to make careful decisions about sending peanut products to school.
GMA will require that an Emergency Action Plan be completed by the parents and the health care provider. The plan will include signs and symptoms of a reaction as well and interventions to minimize the reaction. Any required medications, such as an epipen or Benadryl, will need to be prescribed by the child’s physician and attached to the Emergency Action Plan.
Honor is vital in all aspects of life. The Gwynedd-Mercy Academy ideal is that each student live as a responsible person – one whose word is his/her bond, whose work is always his/her own, and around whom the property of others is safe. Lying, cheating, and stealing have no place at Gwynedd-Mercy Academy. In recognizing that honor can be learned, Gwynedd-Mercy Academy uses an honor system to impart its Honor Code. Students are expected to lead by personally reinforcing the values embodied in Mission and Philosophy of the Sisters of Mercy. The Honor Code was conceived to promote an environment of mutual trust and respect. We believe that students should uphold the principles of truth, honor, and integrity in all of their intellectual, athletic, and social pursuits. This belief is based on the notion that every student is a responsible individual with an inherent desire to be an honorable person. This responsibility includes a student’s duty to oneself and others to sustain a system of moral values, even in the face of adversity, surely a sign of true leadership.
The Honor Code is predicated on the assumption that students are honorable boys and girls and have the right to be trusted. Upon enrollment, each student accepts personal responsibility for this Honor Code:
- Students will tell the truth and will not mislead others
- Students will ensure that the work submitted is original and that they will neither give nor receive unauthorized assistance in academic work
- Students will respect the property of others and ensure that it remains safe for their use
- Students will do all in their power to support the community of trust embodied in this Honor Code, and conduct themselves with respect to the values of the Sisters of Mercy
The Honor Code governs all Gwynedd-Mercy Academy students at all times and in all places. Student conduct in these areas governed by the Honor Code must conform to the following:
Lying: In any instance in which a student is asked a question, they are on their honor to tell the truth (Deliberate verbal or written falsification is a form of lying and is, therefore, a violation of the code, as is deliberately allowing a false assumption to be drawn)
Stealing: Students are on their honor not to steal, as no student has the right to take or use anything which is not theirs without the express consent of the owner (“Borrowing” without permission may be considered stealing, and this aspect of the Honor Code applies to stealing at any time, either on campus or off)
- Cheating: Students are on their honor neither to give nor to receive any unauthorized information in any form of school work where credit is earned or lost
- Plagiarism: Plagiarism is a form of cheating and is often a difficult concept for some students (Students must give credit on all writing assignments for work that is not exclusively their own -- whether that work is specifically quoted or paraphrased)
- Computer Misuse: Honor violations involving misuse of technology encompass some components of all of the above; in general, students should not do anything with their computer resources that would constitute lying, stealing, or cheating (Specifically, students may not electronically misrepresent who they are, send email that deliberately conceals their identity, or borrow passwords, files or documents from other students without their permission)
- Condoning: Students are expected to do all in their power to support the community of trust embodied in the Honor Code and will not condone violations of the Code by others
The Honor Pledge for written schoolwork is:
“This work is my own. I have neither given nor received any unauthorized help.”
Students in grades 4-8 will write the Honor Pledge on all work that is to be graded. This includes, but is not limited to, homework, projects, writing assignments, quizzes, and tests. Copying notes from a missed class or sharing personal study materials not assigned by the teachers are allowed.
We may all learn from our mistakes and be deserving of another chance to apply the values of personal honor in our community. The first offense is usually treated as an opportunity for guidance, but the degree of the judgment varies with the age of the student and number of years they have lived under the school’s Honor Code. If a student violates the Honor Code, their parents/guardians will be notified of the incident, and the student may receive other penalties depending upon the individual case and the severity of the infraction (This may include possible dismissal from the school by the administration).
Witness to Mercy Anti-Bullying Policy
Gwynedd-Mercy Academy has established an anti-bullying policy. GMA believes that every child should enjoy school and feel safe, secure, and accepted and that every child is a gift from God and made in God’s image. Christian behavior is expected from all students at all times.
Bullying is defined as repeatedly and purposely trying to harm someone physically, socially, emotionally, and/or spiritually. Bullying is unfair and one-sided. Bullying decreases self-esteem and increases stress and anxiety.
Examples of bullying could include, but are not limited to:
- Hurting someone physically by hitting, kicking, tripping, pushing, etc.
- Stealing or damaging another person’s things
- Ganging up on someone
- Teasing someone in a hurtful way through words, gestures, or actions
- Using put-downs, such as insulting someone’s race, culture, gender, creed, size, appearance, or intelligence
- Inappropriate touching
- Spreading rumors about someone
- Leaving someone out on purpose or trying to get other children to exclude someone
Witness to Mercy
Gwynedd-Mercy Academy students will be taught to do the following things to be Witnesses to Mercy and to prevent bullying:
- Be respectful, safe, and responsible
- Refuse to bully others
- Refuse to let others be bullied
- Refuse to watch, laugh, or join in when someone is being bullied
- Report bullying to an adult
Gwynedd-Mercy Academy faculty and staff will do the following things to prevent bullying and help students feel safe at school:
- Teach the steps necessary to be a Witness to Mercy
- Closely supervise students in all areas of the school and playground
- Watch for signs of bullying and stop it when it happens
- Investigate all reported bullying incidents
- Implement immediate consequences for bullying
- If there is retaliation against students who report bullying, serious disciplinary actions will be taken
GMA students, parents, and faculty and staff will sign an anti-bullying pledge annually to show support and affirm the GMA Anti-Bullying Policy. GMA has a no tolerance policy for bullying.
GMA respects the parents’ role as advocates for their children. It is equally as important that parents respect the role of the teachers and administration when examining each report to determine whether bullying has occurred.
When determined that bullying has occurred, grade appropriate, equitable, and progressive disciplinary consequences will be enforced. Consequences are determined according to the nature of the behavior, the developmental age of the student and the student’s history of problem behaviors and performance; and may include counseling, demerits, detention, suspension, expulsion, and/or referral to law enforcement.
The safety of our students is our prime concern when deciding to close school due to weather conditions. When unsafe weather conditions necessitate the closing of GMA for the day, a decision will be made as early as possible. If school is closed, there will be no CARES, sports, or after school activities that day.
- Parents will receive information via K12 Alerts, our automated notification system implemented to inform families of delayed openings, school closings due to inclement weather, or other emergency information. This information is also posted on the GMA WEBSITE - www.gmaelem.org.
- For bus transportation in the event of a delayed opening, please follow your school district's schedule. Each school district has a website, available through a link at www.gmaelem.org/transport.
- If GMA is open and your district is closed, no transportation will be provided by the district. It is up to the parents’/guardians’ discretion as to whether or not to transport their child(ren). A child who misses school on such a day will be marked with an excused absence due to inclement weather.
- If GMA begins two hours late and your school district begins at its regular time, the district will not be able to transport your child two hours late. If, however, a bus were to arrive at school at the regular time, staff would be present to supervise the children.
- If GMA opens on time and your district is two hours late, your child’s bus will come two hours late. In this case, your child’s lateness will not be penalized. A list of school district websites is available at www.gmaelem.org/transport.
In the event that a situation creates an emergency condition at GMA, the following procedures are followed:
If possible, all families, faculty, and staff will be informed through K12 Alerts of the reason for the emergency condition, the current situation at the school, and the safe location of the students.
If the campus is determined to be the safest location, parents will be notified that students will remain at the school until they can be picked up by a parent/guardian or by someone you have previously designated on the students’ emergency forms.
If the campus is determined to not be a safe location, emergency contacts will be notified that students have been evacuated with the faculty and staff to a safe location and where that location is.
Any personal property (e.g. backpacks, electronics) brought onto school property may be examined if there is a reasonable and individualized suspicion concerning safety or misuse of technology. All school property is subject to search at any time. This also includes students’ personal electronic devices that are brought onto campus that utilize GMA’s resources. For more information, refer to the Internet and Social Media Usage Policy.
Gwynedd-Mercy Academy uses security cameras on campus for the purpose of enhancing campus safety and security. Video recordings are to be used for School-related, internal purposes only. Video will not be provided to any parent, student, or third party absent of a court obligation to do so. The school has the authority to provide law enforcement access to video feeds in an emergency situation. Signage concerning the use of cameras is posted on campus. Security cameras are only installed in public areas. These areas include but are not limited to fields, hallways, classrooms, courts, entrances and exits to the campus, and parking lots. Security camera usage is prohibited in any space where there is reasonable expectation of privacy, which includes restrooms and locker rooms. No sound is to be monitored or recorded. All video recordings are the sole property of Gwynedd-Mercy Academy.
Technology offers vast opportunity for learning and communication but also numerous pitfalls of potential misuse. Below are some prohibitions regarding computer and technology use. Students should realize that this list is not exhaustive; they must use common sense and good judgment when using technology. If a student is unsure about usage, guidance should be sought from faculty. As with the general prohibitions listed above, engaging in the following prohibitions will result in an appearance before Administration as well as significant punishment, including the possibility of suspension or expulsion depending on the nature of the infraction.
Students may not:
- Attempt to bypass, remove, subvert, or avoid any of the security measures in place on Gwynedd-Mercy Academy’s network
- Distribute information that could lead to the compromise of Gwynedd-Mercy Academy’s computer system; they may not provide access to Gwynedd-Mercy Academy’s network or computers to unauthorized users - any person without a Gwynedd-Mercy Academy user account is an unauthorized user
- Use programs that attempt to crash or otherwise damage computers or the network
- Use Gwynedd-Mercy Academy’s network or computer resources for dishonest or illegal activities, such as copying, sharing, or downloading files that are copyrighted, including copyrighted music
- Attempt to access inappropriate material on the Internet
- Install any software or other programs on Gwynedd-Mercy Academy’s computers without the explicit permission of the technology staff
- Use another student’s account or permit another student to use their account
- Use other network resources for non-academic purposes
- Use peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing software or enable file sharing on their personal computer while it is attached to Gwynedd-Mercy Academy’s network
- Post school images, logos, pictures, and/or photographs (i.e.- students in uniform, etc.) on any social networking site or personal website which are contrary to our Mercy Charism and values
Internet and Social Media Usage
The use of technology and, in particular, the Internet in education has grown by leaps and bounds. Technology is now as common a tool as a textbook. Gwynedd- Mercy Academy offers Internet access for students, teachers, and staff. The Internet offers information and resources otherwise unavailable to our school. Because the Internet is a necessity in supporting our curriculum goals, it has become an integral part of our instructional program for all teachers and students. The goals of Internet access are:
1. To support curriculum standards
2. To enhance learning opportunities and instructional resources
3. To promote lifelong learning
Students will be monitored when the Internet is used during class. Under the direction of the IT Department, GMA will continue to utilize filtering software to block students' access to inappropriate websites.
It is the expectation of Gwynedd-Mercy Academy that the Internet is used in a responsible, efficient, ethical, and legal manner by all members of the GMA community, and is used in support of the educational objectives and the student behavior guidelines of Gwynedd-Mercy Academy. Transmission of any material in violation of any federal or state regulation is prohibited. Unacceptable uses include, but are not limited to, the following: violating copyright laws, reposting (forwarding) a person’s communications without the author's prior consent, and using threatening or inappropriate language.
Users must abide by network etiquette rules. These rules include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Be polite; rudeness is never acceptable
- Use appropriate language
- Do not reveal your personal address or telephone number or those of anyone else
With the rise of national issues related to text messaging, emails, cell phones, social networking sites, and parties at individual homes, it is necessary to clarify the responsibility of the school in regard to discipline and liability. Gwynedd-Mercy Academy is responsible for the safety of each child while he/she is at school and/or at a school-sponsored event. If there is an incident involving a threat, danger, or illegal activity involving your child outside of the school and/or school-sponsored event, it is the responsibility of the parent to bring the threat, danger, or illegal activity to the attention of the parents of the child(ren) involved, as well as reporting it to the proper legal authority. The school and/or employees are not responsible or liable for any issues or problems between students that occur outside of school.
Students and/or parents do not have permission to place school images, logos, pictures, and/or photographs (i.e.- students in uniform, etc.) on any social networking site or personal website which are contrary to our Mercy Charism and values. Parents should be checking their children’s emails, text messages, and personal websites on a regular basis to ensure child safety and security.
It is essential that all students know before coming to school how they will go home. For the safety and security of your child(ren), phone calls making changes during the day cannot be accepted. Emails or faxes with identifying parent information may be acceptable in the case of an emergency.
Parent Transportation - If you are dropping off or picking up your child, always use car line, dropping off and picking up at the sidewalk area beside the circular driveway behind the school. Car Line is the line of cars for morning drop off and pick up that passes through the circle to the rear of the building.
- Please pull around the car line circle as far as possible when dropping off children in order to make room for other vehicles and to keep the traffic flowing.
- Please pull up to the curb so the children can stay on the sidewalk when they go to and from the building. Please use the entire sidewalk by driving all the way around to the end of the circle.
- Never pass another car in car line, unless otherwise directed by a GMA staff member.
- For the safety of the students, please do not walk your child(ren) to or from the school building in the midst of the bus and car traffic.
- Parents are asked to use the family name signs provided on Book Day for the afternoon car line.
- If parents are visiting the school first thing in the morning or during dismissal, children should be dropped off and picked up in car line.
- To alleviate car line congestions at the back entrance of the campus, parents are encouraged make a right turn on to Bethlehem Pike whenever possible.
- Remember when waiting in carline, buses have the right-of-way as they enter and exit.
It is requested that Gwynedd-Mercy students arrive in the morning between 7:45 and 8:00 AM. This allows time for students to unpack and be in their seats by 8:05 AM when prayers and announcements begin. Any student who is not in homeroom by 8:05 AM will be marked late. Students are dismissed at 3:10 PM.
If you arrive before 7:45 AM, please wait with your child in your car until the supervising teachers arrive at 7:45 AM. Students can be dropped off no earlier than 7:45 AM unless attending morning CARES Parents who drop their children off after 8:10 AM are requested to park in car line, enter through the “B” door, accompany their children to sign in at the Main Office.
Bus Transportation - Bus transportation is provided for each student by the public school district in which the student resides. Names of students are sent to the districts so that routes can be established. Bus routes are printed in local newspapers and on your school district website at the end of August.
- Each school district honors private school transportation requests for early dismissals equal to the same number provided to the public schools in that district. The following districts will provide morning transportation but will NOT transport GMA students at noon on the dates listed - parents will need to pick up their children on the following dates:
5/8/20: Pennridge School Districts
6/4/20: Methacton, Pennridge and Souderton School Districts
- School districts do not transport students who do not reside within their boundaries. Parents must provide transportation for students visiting a student in another district.
- Students are expected to follow bus safety rules at all times. Safety rules are handed out to each student on Book Day. In cases of frequent misbehavior, students may be denied bus privileges. Students may ride only the bus of the school district in which they reside.
CHILDREN MAY NEVER WALK BETWEEN PARKED BUSES, EVEN WITH A PARENT, AS THIS IS VERY DANGEROUS.
Parents should support the teachers on bus duty by reminding your child of the following:
- Do not try to pick up something dropped near the bus. The bus driver may not see you.
- Remember that other motorists do not always stop for a stopped school bus. Use extreme caution when getting on or off the bus.
- Follow the teachers’ directions for getting on and off the bus at school.
Safety hazards include long backpack straps and long, dangling jacket or sweatshirts drawstrings. These items can be caught in the bus handrail, door, or other equipment. They can also be caught in a car door. Please remove them or cut them to a safe length.
For the safety of all children, all visitors and volunteers are to sign in and out at the school office when visiting or volunteering in the school. In addition, all visitors and volunteers must wear a badge for identification distributed in the school office after visitors/volunteers have signed in. School officials allow visitations to the classroom upon prior approval and all visitors must make arrangements with the teacher prior to entering the classroom. This policy is not meant to restrict parent involvement. It is merely a way to ensure that the best learning environment and academic privacy for all students in the classroom is upheld. All parent volunteers must complete the in-person Protecting God’s Children training and/or the online Stewards of Children training and Mandated Reporter training and submit completion certificates. Volunteers must also obtain the following clearances before volunteering in the school or at school functions where students are present: PA Criminal Record Check, PA Child Abuse Clearance, FBI Fingerprint Clearance, if not a PA resident for ten consecutive years. A DISCLOSURE STATEMENT APPLICATION FOR VOLUNTEERS required by the Child Protective Service Law must be signed and kept on file at the school. These forms are available in the Main Office.