To help families stay in-the-know with this school year’s buzz, Frederick County Public Schools offers FindOutFirst e-mails. These notifications cover everything from classroom news, cafeteria menus and school closings to countywide board of education actions, budget notifications and school health updates.
Every year, parents need to take time to update their child’s grade level and any school changes online, or they may not receive accurate information, said Dian Nelson, communications coordinator for Frederick County Public Schools.
“The system does not assume it knows where a child goes to school or what grade level a child is in,” Nelson said. “It is really import that parents indicate [online] a relationship with the school their students attends. For instance, if power was out for one school, we would target that message only to parents that notified relationship with that school, not all 32,000 subscribers.”
Frederick County Public Schools staff requests that accounts are updated as soon as possible. Any updates, including cell phone numbers for emergency contacts, can be done online at www.fcps.org/fof. Those who wish to receive SMS text messages in case of emergencies can note that as well.
“Last year we added text messaging for emergency notices only,” Nelson said. “In the event of a 9/11 type of emergency or if the power was out in half the county … that would be the only case we would use text messaging.”
While logged online, parents may also choose to sign up for e-mails that will notify them of news updates for any special programs their student is part of, such as band or a particular sports team.
Nelson said the e-mail updates are available to parents, students and the public, as well. She adds that the accuracy of the e-mails can be trusted as the news comes directly from the schools.
“You can trust if it comes from FindoutFirst, it is what our schools have put out … and it will be accurate,” Nelson said.
Free Fire Alarms
In an effort to emphasize the importance of keeping children safe from smoke and fire, the Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue is offering free installation of smoke alarms. The Fire and Rescue staff members are willing to either come to your home to check your current smoke alarm or install a free lithium smoke alarm that they say will work for 10 years.
This offer is good for any Frederick county residents. To receive more information or to make an appointment, call the smoke alarm instillation line at 301.600.7275, or e-mail your information to SmokeAlarm@frederickcountymd.gov.
The staff requests that you include the following information: name, address, phone number and best time to receive a call back to schedule installation.
Reduced-Cost Meals Available
With the school year underway, the Food and Nutrition Services office from Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) says it’s not too late to apply for the School Meals Program. Each year, the School Meals Program provides discount or free meals to families who have limited ability to pay. This includes breakfast and lunch offered based on family-income eligibility.
Only one application is needed per family and can be filled out at any time. The application can be found online at www.fcps.org/meals, in school front offices, or from the Food and Nutrition Services Department staff. Those who were eligible for meal benefits last year are still required to fill out the form this year within 30 days of the beginning of the school year.
Once the form is filled out, parents may return it to school with their student or mail it directly to the Food Services office. The form will be processed within 10 days from when it is received by Food Services. Families will then be notified of application status via a letter mailed to their home or sent home with their child from school. All results are confidential.
The food provided by FCPS is approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including items such as freshly made pizza and salads instead of soda or candy. According to Food Services staff, well-nourished children perform better both socially and academically. They add that their lunch provides a third of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein, calcium, iron and Vitamins A and C.
To see cafeteria menus, as well as fitness and nutrition tips, visit fcps.org/meals.
For more information, contact the Food and Nutrition Services office at 301.644.5061.