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Community Handbook [updated for 2021-2022]
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SY21-22 related guidelines that are different from normal will be at the top of each section in a grey box.

Community Handbook



[last updated September 10, 2021]

*School visitations requirements update!





ABSENCES        4

DISMISSAL        5





GOING OUTSIDE FOR LUNCH - “Out to Lunch, OTL”        7







CLOTHING        9


FOOD AND DRINK        12









HOMEWORK        15

GRADING        16


SUPPORT        16





TRIPS        18



School Policies and Procedures



SY21-22 COVID-19 Guidelines

  • All students are expected to wear a mask at all times both in the building and outside except when eating food or drinking water.
  • All students are expected to complete a Health and Safety screening prior to entering the building.
  • This can be done online here.
  • We will also have paper copies to be filled out before entry.
  • We are still working out all of the specifics and logistics with breakfast, entry, and dismissal. (as of September 1). We will update here once we have nailed down the plan.

Homeroom begins at 8:35 AM everyday.

Breakfast is served in the cafeteria each morning beginning at 8:00 AM and ending at 8:30 AM. There will be a staff member in the cafeteria in the morning. If students are not eating in the cafeteria, they should not enter the building before 8:35 AM.

Students should use the 6th Street entrance to enter the building.


Students arriving later than 8:45 AM will be marked late for the day. Lateness will be noted on a student’s record.

Students who arrive after 8:45 AM must go directly to the main office to sign in and get a late pass before reporting to their scheduled class so that they are not marked absent for the day.


SY21-22 COVID-19 Guidelines

  • If your child or anyone in your home is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (loss of smell or taste, cough, fever, etc.), please contact Shirley Lee at as soon as possible so we can put a plan in place to support if needed.
  • DO NOT send your child to school if they are feeling sick in any way.

When students are absent, they should bring a written note to the main office from the parent or guardian explaining the absence. Communicable diseases such as flu, stomach virus, chicken pox, measles, conjunctivitis (pink eye), head lice, etc., should be immediately reported to the school office. Students with communicable diseases should remain out of school until they are no longer contagious. A doctor’s note is encouraged upon their return to school.

Students’ punctuality and attendance are essential to their success; when high schools select students for admission, a student’s attendance record is weighed heavily. A pattern of lateness or absence is a concern and will lead to a family conference.

Attendance Protocol:

Attendance is essential to student success in school both academically and emotionally. Student attendance will be taken officially during HR. Teachers will also likely have unofficial attendance records for their classes either in JumpRope or some other online/paper format.

  1. If a student has accumulated 3 absences, advisors will call home to check in about attendance and discuss any support that might be needed.
  2. Once a student has accumulated 5 absences, Sonhando will call the family in for a meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to understand the absences, reiterate the importance of coming to school on time, and discuss any support a family might need in getting their student to school.
  3. Once a student has accumulated 10 or more absences, they will be referred for support in implementing a plan for improved attendance.


SY21-22 COVID-19 Guidelines

  • Students will be dismissed from school at 2:55 PM every day of the week.
  • We will use the 6th street Exit A, toward the end of the building closer to Avenue C.
  • Students who are enrolled in afterschool will receive guidance about remote and in-person classes and should be escorted to those classes if in-person.

Students will be dismissed at 2:55 PM from their classes everyday. Students who are enrolled in after school activities at TSMS remain in the building. They may not leave for any reason. Students are dismissed out of Exit A on 6th Street half a block toward Avenue C from the main entrance and are not to linger on school grounds after dismissal.

In order for a student to leave the school building early due to an appointment, family obligation, etc., a parent or guardian must sign her or him out in the main office, as per NYCDOE regulations.


Be Kind, Be Safe, Be Productive

Students are to follow all classroom and school procedures that are part of Tompkins Square Middle School’s “Be Kind, Be Safe, Be Productive” policy. All shared communities rely upon understood systems in order to function successfully and TSMS is no exception.


SY21-22 COVID-19 Guidelines

  • Students should maintain 3 feet social distance where possible.
  • It is not required that students maintain 3 feet social distance when in the hallways.
  • From NYC DOE SY21-22 Guidelines:
  • “Following CDC and NYSED guidance, schools should provide a minimum of three feet of physical distancing, where possible. Both the CDC and NYSED emphasize that physical distancing requirements should not prevent students from fully returning to school this year.
  • Three feet distancing is not required for passing between classes.”
  • Students MUST have a pass when in the hallway. If they do not have a pass, they will be asked to go back to class until they can secure an appropriate pass.

When passing to and from classrooms in the hallways or walking in the stairwell, students must walk quietly. There is no running, jumping, pushing, or horseplay allowed. Students should not linger in the hallways and must pass to and from their lockers promptly. If possible, students should keep to their right when going from one class to the next.

If a student is consistently late to classes or is excessively disruptive in the hallways during or between classes, she or he may receive detention and/or have her or his families contacted about the matter. Lateness to class will have an impact on student participation grades. A student needs a pass to be in the hallway during class periods or lunchtime.


SY21-22 COVID-19 Guidelines

  • Students will eat lunch outside OR in multiple indoor locations for inclement weather.
  • Students should maintain 3 feet physical distance while eating or drinking, but may remove their masks to eat.
  • After they have finished eating, students should return their masks to cover their faces and appropriately disinfect their hands.
  • Students who are unable to bring their own lunch from home will be provided with a grab-and-go, hot lunch from the cafeteria.
  • SY21-22, students in 7th and 8th grade will be granted 5 days of OTL each week with parent permission.

Students are to go directly and quietly down to lunch and recess without running. If students are receiving a school lunch, they must wait in an orderly fashion in line until the food service workers are ready to serve them. Students must choose a table to sit at and remain at the same one during that lunchtime. If a student wants to go upstairs, he or she must have a staff pass or be chaperoned by a staff member.


Students are expected to be considerate and inclusive of one another, to keep their language clean, and to refrain from roughhousing and play-fighting. Students are to WALK to the yard when heading out for recess and returning to the building.

Other rules for the yard/recess:


If able to follow school rules and maintain passing grades, 7th and 8th grade students can earn the privilege of going outside of the school building without adult supervision for lunch. In order for students to receive this privilege, parents and guardians must also sign a consent form. Eligible 7th and 8th grade students may go out to eat lunch 5 days a week. Sixth graders are not permitted to go off school grounds to eat lunch. The boundaries that the students can travel within are East 2nd to East 7th Street and First Avenue to Avenue C. This will include the benches in the southeast corner of Tompkins Square Park on Avenue B. Students may NOT go home or to a friend’s house for lunch. Teachers or other school staff are at liberty to revoke this privilege at any time due to a student's behavior or academic progress.


Help us keep the auditorium clean. Please do not eat or drink anything in the auditorium.

Do not put your feet up on the chairs.

Running is not allowed in the auditorium.


SY21-22 COVID-19 Guidelines

  • SY21-22, all grades/students will submit their cell phones to be collected in HR at the start of each day.
  • Cell phones will be stored securely in those classrooms for the entirety of the day.
  • Students will then “sign out” their cell phone at the end of the day before going home.

On March 2, 2015, NYCDOE lifted the ban on cellphones in school. TSMS has always allowed students to bring their phones in school provided they are stored out of sight and turned completely off. If there is an emergency, students may use the telephone in the main office or the Deans’ Office. Otherwise, students may wait until after school hours to use their cellphones outside the building.


SY21-22 COVID-19 Guidelines

The current TSMS cellphone policy and protocols are as follows:

  • All student cell phones will be collected in homerooms every morning and returned at the end of the day.
  • The cell phones will be locked away safely by their homeroom teachers until it is time for them to be retrieved.
  • 7th and 8th grade students will have their cell phones returned to them before leaving the building for "Out To Lunch."
  • Upon returning to the building students should have their phone turned off and stored in their book bags for the last period of the day.
  • Cell phone use is not permitted in the recess yard.

If families need to communicate with their child during the school day, they can contact the main office (212-995-1341 ext. 3182). Students can also come to the main office at any time and request to use the office phone in order to contact their families.

Cell phones, music players/iPods, video games, and other similar electronic equipment can be neither visible nor audible during the school day.


Tompkins Square Middle School strongly believes that young adolescents should not bring valuable items to school. We consider any item over $20 valuable. This includes but is not limited to cash, electronics, jewelry, toys, or sports equipment. In addition, any item that has important family history or special meaning to the child should not be brought to school. If valuable items disappear or are stolen, Tompkins Square Middle School staff will not be able to investigate the disappearance or theft unless it is very apparent where the item might be or who may have taken it. Families and students must not expect the staff to spend time and staff resources searching for missing or stolen valuables. If there is a theft of a valuable item and the school is not able/willing to investigate, you may contact the police department regarding an investigation.


Lockers and locks are assigned to every student in the school at the beginning of the year. Lockers and locks are the property of the school. If a child misuses the lock by breaking or losing it, it will cost $5 to replace the lock. Students are expected to care for their locker and use it to store books, coats, and gym clothes. They may feel free to decorate the inside of the locker (though not the outside) with non-permanent decorations. If students are lingering too long at their lockers so that they miss class time, or if they use their lockers inappropriately, they can lose the privilege of using a locker entirely and face appropriate consequences. We expect that students be courteous towards other students at nearby lockers.


Email and electronic documents and accounts of any kind are considered the property of the person the account or document belongs to. If a student is found to have read or used another person’s email or electronic documents or accounts, they will receive appropriate consequences.

Students may only use a laptop in the classroom where the laptop cart is located and with permission from the teacher that has signed out the cart.

Students may only use printers with teacher permission.

Students may only use the Internet for academic purposes and may not download from the Internet without teacher permission.

Food and drink are not allowed around the laptops.

Students who violate these policies will lose their privilege to use the computers.



  • All students should be able to dress comfortably for school without fear of or actual unnecessary discipline or body shaming.
  • All students and staff should understand that they are responsible for managing their own personal "distractions" without regulating individual students' clothing/self expression.
  • Teachers can focus on teaching without the additional and often uncomfortable burden of dress code enforcement.
  • Students should not face unnecessary barriers to school attendance.
  • Reasons for conflict and inconsistent discipline should be minimized whenever possible.


Our student dress code attempts to accomplish several goals:

  • Maintain a safe learning environment in classes where protective or supportive clothing is needed, such as chemistry/biology (eye or body protection), dance (bare feet, tights/leotards), PE (athletic attire/shoes), or Recess (athletic shoes).
  • Allow students to wear clothing of their choice that is comfortable.
  • Allow students to wear clothing that expresses their self-identified gender.
  • Allow students to wear religious attire without fear of discipline or discrimination.
  • Prevent students from wearing clothing with offensive images or language, including profanity, hate speech, and pornography.
  • Prevent students from wearing clothing with images or language depicting or advocating violence or the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Ensure that all students are treated equitably regardless of gender/gender identification, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, body type/size, religion, and personal style.
  • The primary responsibility for a student’s attire resides with the student and parents or guardians. The school district and individual schools are responsible for seeing that student attire does not interfere with the health or safety of any student, and that student attire does not contribute to a hostile or intimidating atmosphere for any student.


Basic Principle: Certain body parts must be covered for all students. Clothes must be worn in a way such that genitals, buttocks, and nipples are covered with opaque material. Cleavage should not have coverage requirements. All items listed in the “must wear” and “may wear” categories below must meet this basic principle.

Students Must Wear

  • Shirt
  • Bottom: pants/sweatpants/shorts/skirt/dress/leggings
  • Shoes; activity-specific shoe requirements are permitted (for example for sports)

Students May Wear

  • Fitted pants, including leggings, yoga pants and “skinny jeans”
  • Midriff baring shirts
  • Pajamas
  • Ripped jeans, as long as underwear is not exposed
  • Tank tops, including spaghetti straps, halter tops.Visible waistbands or straps on undergarments worn under other clothing are NOT a violation
  • Athletic attire
  • Hats and Hoodies

Students Cannot Wear

  • Violent language or images
  • Images or language depicting drugs or alcohol (or any illegal item or activity) or the use of same
  • Hate speech, profanity, pornography
  • Images or language that creates a hostile or intimidating environment based on any protected class
  • Bathing suits
  • Helmets or headgear that obscures the face (except as a religious observance)
  • Bandanas


A school dress code is only as effective and fair as its enforcement. Historically school dress codes have been written and enforced in ways that disproportionately impact girls, students of color, and gender expansive students.

  • Enforcement should be consistent with a school’s overall discipline plan. Failure to comply with the student dress code should be enforced consistently with comparable behavior and conduct violations.
  • Violations should be treated as minor on the continuum of school rule violations.
  • Students should never be removed from a classroom / lose class time solely as a result of a dress code violation.
  • Students should never be forced to wear extra school clothing (that isn’t their own) when they are in violation of the code. That is akin to a dunce cap or scarlet letter. They can be asked to put on their own onsite clothing, if available, to be dressed more to code.
  • Students’ parents should never be called during the school day to bring alternative clothing for the student to wear for the remainder of the day.
  • No student should be disproportionately affected by dress code enforcement because of gender, race, body size, or body maturity.
  • The dress code should be clearly conveyed to students, not just in the student handbook which rarely gets read, but in other ways, too, such as posters, newsletters, etc…
  • Students should not be shamed or required to display their body in front of others (students, parents, or staff) in school. “Shaming” includes but is not limited to kneeling or bending over to check attire fit, measuring straps or skirt length, asking students to account for their attire in the classroom, and directing students to correct a dress code violation during instructional time.


SY2021 COVID-19 Guidelines

  • Students should maintain 3 feet social distance when possible.
  • Students who are struggling to keep with maintaining 3 feet of physical distance will be supported by the Dean’s Office to ensure safety.
  • Students should refrain from hugging, high-fiving, shaking hands, etc.

Students will respect others’ personal space – no unsolicited touching, no touching of private areas, and no extended hugging, lap-sitting, hand holding, or kissing is permitted.


Students cannot eat food during or between classes. Water is the only permissible drink in classrooms, and students are encouraged to carry water bottles. The permission of gum is up to each teacher’s discretion in the different classrooms.

Lunch will be the only exception for food and drink in the classrooms.


Tompkins Square Middle School is proud of the climate of respect cultivated between staff, students, and families that defines our school community. Our school believes that the daily conversation between staff and children both inside and outside of the classroom about community, tone, and actions has both academic and social value and is the underlying curriculum to our school.

Teachers tailor management strategies within their classroom to reflect the goals of the TSMS community and their own personal teaching style. Administration supports teachers in their management and is in charge of monitoring and carrying out our Discipline Policy.

When a student chooses to engage in behavior that is against school or classroom rules, consequences may include:

Tier I: Teacher Response

  1. Verbal Conversation(s) (should include Restitution Plan)
  2. Classroom Detention during lunch or afterschool
  • with Teacher (including possible restitution)
  • with phone call home after second detention (by teacher)
  • Referral to Dean’s Office for follow up and possible Dean’s detentions if continuous
  1. Other appropriate and restorative consequences

Tier II: Teacher (in conjunction with AP/Dean) Response

  1. Lunch Detention and/or Restitution Plan
  • with Deans’ Office
  • with Loss of Out-to-Lunch for 1 Week (managed and assigned by Dean)
  1. Call Home by Teacher/Dean

Tier III : Behavior Modification Plan

  • Behavior Contract at Dean and Grade Level team’s discretion with specific goals for child’s behavior; involvement with School Counseling Office; Parent, Student, Dean Meeting, Mediation, Restorative Circle

Tier IV: AP/Principal’s Response

  1. Suspension (In school [not on student’s permanent record] or Principal’s [on student’s permanent record])
  2. Suspension (Superintendent’s – occurs out of building; on student’s permanent record)

At each step, TSMS is committed to working to repair community trust and relationships and encouraging student accountability and growth through meetings involving any or all of the following: students, teachers, deans, principal, parents/guardians, and school counselor.


SY2021 COVID-19 Guidelines

  • A student’s failure to comply with safety protocols will result in them being referred to the Dean’s Office for behavioral support.

Lunch detention may be given for behavioral disruptions in the classroom or other infractions.

Lunch Detention will be served in a classroom, where students must sit quietly and do silent work or reading, in addition to reflecting on their mistakes and planning for improvement.

Teachers will call home to ensure parents are kept up to date about student behavior.


Students who use language deemed dangerous to the safety and integrity of the school community will be disciplined accordingly. TSMS has a no-tolerance approach to hate language. However, we are committed to the growth of our students and take a restorative approach aimed at educating and rehabilitating.


We believe that the TSMS community extends beyond the walls of the school building to include interactions between community members that affect the relationships and sense of safety of students in our school. Consequently, we expect that problems between students outside of school will be reported to TSMS staff. This includes instances of teasing, bullying, and sexual harassment that occur through the internet or via personal communication devices (e.g. cell phones, text and instant messaging). Allegations of such occurrences will be taken seriously. The staff  (deans, principal, etc.) commits to investigating reports and holding students accountable.

The deans and school counselors are available to support victims or witnesses of disrespectful, threatening, or unsafe behavior. TSMS is committed to sharing this policy with students and providing forums (i.e. Advisory) for addressing issues of respect, community values, and internet and phone safety.


Students who hurt others or damage property will receive consequences in line with the New York City Department of Education's discipline code and Chancellor’s regulations. We may also request a family conference, community service, a behavior contract, and/or counseling.




SY21-22 COVID-19 Guidelines

  • This year, students DO NOT need a device.
  • It can be helpful to support their learning at home to have access to a digital device.
  • We are working to ensure that all students have access to devices while at school, but will not be delivering devices for students to bring back and forth from home to school.

Relevant binders/folders, paper, pens/pencils, academic planners, class notebooks, textbooks, independent reading books and completed homework assignments are required everyday.

School books that are assigned or checked out from classroom libraries are the responsibility of the students. There will be a charge for lost books.


Student work will be assessed in a holistic manner. In addition to the assessments organized by New York City and State, we will utilize the following tools:


We believe that homework helps students to deepen their understanding of skills and concepts introduced in class, build independent learning skills, and prepare them for the rigors of high school. To support middle school students with the monitoring of homework, we require that each student have an academic planner. To this end, we provide planners yearly to all students.

The regulations of the Chancellor mandate the minimum time allotment for daily homework assignments in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade to be 1 hour. Homework will be used to reinforce and extend skills and concepts learned in school and to develop independent study skills. Homework should be done thoroughly, neatly, and carefully. The homework assignments may vary per student depending on her needs and the fluctuations in module deadlines.

All TSMS students are expected to complete and log a minimum of 30 minutes of independent reading outside of school every day.


TSMS teachers use an outcomes-based grading system to assess student progress over the course of the modules and year. Outcomes-based assessment is designed to offer a deeper level of insight for students, families, and teachers into the strengths and areas of growth for each student. Students are assessed on a 1-4 scale. Students’ understanding of a particular outcome may fall anywhere in that 1-4 scale. (This scale does NOT correlate to state test score rubrics).

1 – Student does “not yet” understand the outcome

2 – Student is “approaching” an understanding of the outcome

3 – Student “meets” the expectation for the outcome

4 – Student is “exceeding” the expectation for the outcome

Please refer to the NYCDOE Grading Policy for SY21-22.


Students are expected to complete all independent work on their own. Participating in the copying of an assignment or plagiarizing (presenting another’s work as your own) will lead to loss of credit on the assignment, possible calls home, and other teacher or dean consequences. When a student is suspected of plagiarism, no matter how large or small, the following procedure will take place:

Teachers are committed to instructing students on proper ways to paraphrase and cite others’ work.


ALL students are encouraged to reach out to teachers for support with their learning and work.


Students are expected to be in their scheduled classes/locations at all times. They must obtain a pass from their classroom teacher to be in any other location. If a student is not in class and cannot be located in other allowed locations (Bathroom, School Counseling Office, Dean’s Office, Nurse, Related Services), they will be deemed “cutting class”. Should a student cut class, they will lose 1 day of OTL. Should a student cut class again, they will lose a week of OTL. If they continue to cut classes, they will receive Dean’s Detentions and/or suspensions. Any time a student is cutting class, guardians will be notified.


SY21-22 COVID-19 Guidelines

  • Parents/guardians should ensure they have contact information for, at minimum, their child’s advisor. You may also want to secure contact information for all of your child’s teachers.
  • Emails for teachers can be found on our website, under “Meet Our Staff”.
  • Parents/guardians can expect consistent communication from advisors for the purposes of checking in on well being, social and emotional states, and any support we can possibly offer.
  • Teachers will communicate mostly through JumpRope (by entering grades and assessments) and e-mail. If there is a specific concern, a teacher will likely call home.
  • Feel free to request a virtual meeting or conference call with one or more of your child’s teachers if you have concerns or questions.

We believe family involvement is essential to students’ success in middle school! We look forward to meeting or speaking with parents/guardians to discuss their child’s needs and interests. A student’s advisor and the parent coordinator are families’ primary contacts to express concerns, ask information, or address questions. Our Parent Coordinator, Shirley Lee-Wong, can be reached at 347-563-5303 or at The rest of the teachers and staff are available to meet or email with parents as well.

In order to meet with staff members, parents/guardians should schedule an appointment in advance, by sending a note or email to the teacher or leaving a message with the main office or with Shirley.

There will be four official family conferences a year, one in the early fall, one in late fall and the other two are only in the evening in the fall and spring. Intake interviews or Curriculum Night (depending on grade level) in the first month of the year are an opportunity for advisors/teachers to meet with their students’ parents/guardians in order to gain a fuller perspective of the student and hear about family hopes and concerns. Other conferences will be scheduled as needed.


We need a complete and accurate emergency card to be filled out and kept in the school office. Please fill it out thoroughly, including any allergies to food or medication, and return it to us as soon as possible. In the event of an emergency where you cannot be reached, please also include additional phone numbers of friends or relatives. The school office and advisors must be advised of any changes.


SY21-22 COVID-19 Guidelines

Currently New York City is at a high level of COVID-19 transmission. During this time, schools should limit nonessential visitors coming into the building during the school day. Schools are encouraged, where possible, to address visitor and parent concerns by phone or computer. Principals and designated staff may conduct meetings remotely where possible.

In order to protect staff and students in DOE buildings, all visitors wishing to enter DOE buildings must show proof of having at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination.

Acceptable proof of vaccination is one of the following:

  • A CDC Vaccination Card(Open external link); a photo or photocopy is also acceptable.
  • A NYC Vaccination Record(Open external link) or other official immunization record from within or outside the US, including from a health care provider. A photo or photocopy of this card is also acceptable.
  • NYC COVID Safe App on Android(Open external link) or iOS(Open external link).
  • Excelsior Pass or Excelsior Pass Plus(Open external link).
  • DOE COVID-19 Vaccine Portal(Open external link).

An acceptable COVID-19 vaccination includes one dose of any COVID-19 vaccine fully authorized or authorized for emergency use by the FDA or WHO.

If a visitor wishes to enter a DOE building but is unable or unwilling to show proof of vaccination upon sign in, the visitor may not enter the building absent emergency circumstances. Additionally, any visitor to the building must show identification, complete the daily health screening and wear a face covering at all times while on DOE property.

Schools must make every effort to ensure unvaccinated individuals are able to still meet with teachers and attend meetings by offering virtual options. School Safety Agent should connect the visitor with the Parent Coordinator or other relevant staff.

You are welcome to visit TSMS. We simply ask that you schedule the day and time in advance. Shirley is a good person to reach out to for scheduling. When visiting the school, parents, guardians, and guests must sign in with a security guard before coming to the school office. All persons entering the building must wear a mask and maintain physical distancing.


SY21-22 COVID-19 Guidelines

  • Currently, the DOE guidance is that no field trips can be taken involving public transportation.

Trips have been an essential part of the TSMS curriculum. TSMS collects a general permission slip allowing students to go on neighborhood walking trips with their class.

A separate signed permission slip is required before a student may go on any class field trips beyond the neighborhood. No student is allowed to leave the school premises with their class if they have not returned the signed form. It is the responsibility of the student to bring home and return permission slips. Permission to go on trips cannot be granted over the telephone.

The overnight trips and community day trips are a privilege that students earn based on attendance, academic effort, and adherence to school rules. The following circumstances may prevent a child being eligible:


SY21-22 COVID-19 Guidelines

Academic/Attendance Guidelines for Players

Spectator Guidelines


Please find the DOE’s Health and Safety Guidelines for SY21-22 here.


We have read the TSMS Community Handbook and understand the school’s expectations of students and families. We agree to follow all school rules and understand the consequences for non-compliance.

Student Name _____________________________ Signature: _______________________________

Guardian Name: ___________________________ Signature: _______________________________

Date Signed: _____________________________