Online Synchronous Learning - Frequently Asked Questions

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    What will instruction look like in the San Mateo Union High School District this fall? 

    SMUHSD staff will present a proposed instructional schedule for the fall of 2020 to the Board at their June 25 meeting. The proposed plan includes online synchronous learning (all students meeting their teacher online at the same time) and asynchronous (work that is done independently online or offline) lessons with other on-campus supports. The presentation will include a basic class schedule (with at least three hours of synchronous learning per class per week) for the Board to review and consider for approval.

    How will the District ensure that education in the fall of 2020 is rigorous? How will it be different from the spring of 2020?

    As opposed to last spring, online synchronous learning this fall will be structured around an instructional schedule where students and teachers meet online simultaneously. Teachers will have training on technology tools and have invested time to restructure their curriculum to be effective in this adjusted model. Students will also be required to log-on to their classroom at specific times during the day where teachers will take attendance like they do in the in-person environment. 

    Will students earn letter grades this fall? 

    Yes.  Students will be graded on an A-F scale. 

    Will student attendance be tracked?

    Yes. Teachers will take attendance each time the class meets and ensure students are present and engaged. 

    Can students amend their course requests for next year?

    Yes. Once a final instructional schedule is determined, administrators and counselors at each school site will adjust the master schedule accordingly and allow for students to edit their previously submitted course selection. Students also have the option in the first part of the semester to make changes to their course schedule.

    How will the curriculum be adapted?

    Using the VOCAL (Visibility, Organized, Caring, Analytical, Leads by Example) framework, a research based framework for online teaching and learning, teams of teachers will work over the summer to create: (1) update their curriculum and courses to be conducive to high-quality online experiences for students (2) new school routines & rituals, (3) common Canvas course layout. Teachers will also develop culturally responsive and social-emotionally ways to engage students in the online environment. 

    How will we ensure that the new model supports student success?

    The Instructional Subcommittee is focusing on three primary goals to ensure students success, engagement and a rigorous online learning experience.  These goals include (1) ensuring students with  regular connections with teachers either through synchronous online experiences or in-person instruction, (2) provide high-interest, culturally responsive and rigorous topics of study to maximize student engagement, and (3) care for student well being and mental health by integrating culturally responsive SEL into the curriculum framework.

    How will students' social and emotional needs be met when their opportunities for in-person interaction are limited?

    Schools and teachers are working on creative ways to engage students in the school culture. This includes virtual club meetings, assemblies and other events. As we move through the first phase of reopening school, we are also hopeful that small groups of students will be able to come on campus for in-person social distanced interactions. 

    What support is available if my student begins to feel isolated or depressed?

    We recognize that our students may feel additional stress and anxiety during this period of uncertainty. Students can request to speak with a Wellness Counselor during Summer, using our online form to request on appointment (English | Spanish | Chinese). Please visit our Mental Health webpage during the school year for updates on how to reach out for help confidentiality. The District has also partnered with Care Solace, an online resource with a live 24/7 concierge meant to assist individuals in finding local mental health related programs and counseling services. For More information, please visit the Care Solace Website.  

    How will classes like dance, orchestra, and choir work with Online Synchronous Learning?

    There is opportunity in the Online Synchronous Learning schedule model to have classes like this meet on campus from time to time (on the football field, in the parking lot, etc.). As reopening guidance from the state and county changes we will adjust our model to meet the requirements to have more groups and classes like these meet in person following measures to increase safety and decrease risk.

    What are the District’s plans as far as student transportation and safety? If my student needs to get to school, will buses be provided? What safety protocols will be enforced on the buses?

    The District is working on a transportation plan that would serve students safely from the areas served in the past.  

    Who will receive in-person instruction in the fall of 2020, and what will that look like?

    The proposal allows for a phased approach to opening up access to in-person learning for students. One potential way this might happen is the following:

    In Phase 1, all students will learn online. Phase 2 allows for English Learners and Students with Disabilities and some small group outdoor instruction on campus. This could include PE and performing arts. Phase 3 allows all students included in Phase 2 and 9th graders to receive instruction on campus. Phase 4 includes all groups in phases 2 and 3 as well as some 10th grade students and/or some courses on campus (50% of students), and finally Phase 5 brings all students back on campus. 

    Students, staff and visitors to our campuses will be required to follow public health guidelines set forth by the San Mateo County Health Department. While these guidelines are evolving they will likely include wearing face coverings; practicing social distancing; frequent handwashing, etc. 

    What if my child needs a Chromebook/WiFi access? Can my student use their own device? 

    We are developing a process to provide Chromebooks to all students and WiFi access for those who need it. Students will be able to use their own devices when working at home, but may only use the district-issued Chromebooks for security and filtering reasons when on a school campus and for some at-home learning experiences. More information will be communicated to all families about this new initiative before school starts.

    I don't have good WiFi and it's loud and disruptive in my house. How am I supposed to be successful at Remote Synchronous Learning?

    Even if the vast majority of students will be home doing Online Synchronous Learning, the school is still OPEN (unlike last spring). Our goal is to create quiet areas where students can bring their Chromebooks and attend their classes online in a quiet environment with good WiFi.

    Will the same curriculum be covered as in past semesters?

    To the extent possible the District will offer the full curriculum we have offered in the past . 

    How will testing and final exams work?

    Testing and assessment practices will vary across teachers and content areas as they always have. We are looking into ways to use technology to aid in testing and assessment 

    How will my student with disabilities access the services and accommodations in their  Individualized Education Program?

    Educational Specialists will work with students and their families to ensure that appropriate services and accommodations are implemented through the IEP process. You can find more resources for students with disabilities on our website.

    How will my student with a 504 plan access accommodations?

    Students who have a 504 plan will continue to be provided with accomodations appropriate to the online learning environment. School personnel will work with families to ensure that these accommodations are in place. 

    Will sports take place this Fall?

    The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) is the governing body for High School Athletics. The CIF will meet on July 20 to discuss sports for the coming year. We will communicate information about this decision as soon as it is available. We want to have athletics in the fall!

    Will parents be notified if there is a case/ exposure to COVID -19 at our school/in our child’s class? 

    San Mateo County Health Department works directly with our Student Health Services to direct all notifications of cases and exposures within our schools. We will continue to follow the direction of the county to inform students and families of confirmed cases and exposures.

    The District will continue to follow guidelines outlined by CDC and state and local health guidance including practicing social distancing, frequent hand washing, and wearing face coverings combined with limiting students' time on campus to minimize the risk of exposure at school. 

    How/where would there be increased hand washing access when on campus?  Could we get hand washing stations?  

    Yes, additional handwashing stations will be available on campus as well as alcohol based sanitizers. 

    Will students have the opportunity to take classes outdoors?

    Yes, the plan allows for students to take classes outdoors to the full extent possible. We believe outdoor instruction is significantly safer than indoor instruction. Bringing students on campus in this manner allows for safety protocols to be tested with a relatively small cohort. It gives students access to nutritious school meals and it allows them the opportunity to interact socially. 

    Can we get all the courses we wanted/signed up for- (ex. APs) - to remain competitive when applying to college?  Will courses have to be eliminated?  

    We do not plan to eliminate any courses for budgetary or pandemic related reasons.

    What resources can students access on campus?

    We intend to provide internet access, chromebooks available for student use and nutrition services. 

     

    Terms

    Instructional Key Terms

    • Remote / Distance Learning - Instruction for students who are not physically present with the teacher
    • Asynchronous Learning - Students learn the same material, but at different times and in different locations. Examples include pre-recorded video lectures, independent reading and discussion boards through Canvas.
    • Synchronous Learning - Students learn the same material at the same time, but might be in different locations. Examples include live lectures, scheduled assessments, small group discussions, and digital office hours.
    • Blended Learning - Approach to learning that combines some in-person instruction with some technology mediated learning experiences. The latter experiences could be asynchronous or synchronous.
    • Hybrid Learning - Method of synchronous learning where instruction is offered simultaneously to a group of in-person students and another group of students asynchronously. Students may attend school on different days to decrease the number of students in the classroom at one time. 
    • Flipped Instruction -  A type of hybrid learning in which the content is provided asynchronously and the in-person learning focuses on deepening students’ understanding of material. Students are introduced to content remotely and practice working through it at school.
    • Master Schedule - Defines which teachers meet with which students, for how long, and about what topics. It's a function of the school's philosophy, a reflection of its vision, and a blueprint for its resource allocation. 

    Common Acronyms

    • EL - English learners
    • HUGS - Historically underserved groups of students.
    • PLC - Professional learning community. A group of educators that meets regularly, shares expertise, and works collaboratively.
    • SAI Class - Specialized academic instruction class. Offered when the Individual Education Plan (IEP) Team determines that his/her educational needs cannot be satisfactorily met in general education classes for the majority of the student’s day even with the use of support services.
    • SEL - Social and emotional learning.
    • SPED - Special education


    Guiding Principles and Framework

    • SMUHSD Equity Mission Statement - We will continually identify, disrupt and eliminate institutional biases and barriers to ensure that all students have the skills and knowledge to thrive physically, emotionally, and academically. Learn more.

    • SMUHSD Return to School (RTS) Guidelines - Safeguard the health and safety of students and staff. Comply with the State and County Health Department directives and guidelines. Consider feedback from diverse and multiple sources. Ensure equitable access to teaching and learning. Use data to revise the RTS plans as needed. Leverage community resources to enhance RTS plans.

    • Pandemic Recovery Framework for Schools - San Mateo County Office of Education (SMCOE) has provided school leaders with the health, education, and legal guidance needed to develop local plans for a safe return to on-campus instruction and learning. See full details.

    • 4 Pillars - Part of the SMCOE Framework: (1) health & hygiene, (2) face coverings, (3) physical distancing, and (4) limiting gatherings.

    Opportunities and Requirements

    • Concurrent enrollment - Enables high school students to take community college courses and earn college credits, free of charge. The course does not count toward graduation requirements and is not counted in the student’s overall GPA. However, many colleges recognize these courses as equally weighted to AP/Honors courses when evaluating admissions. 
    • Dual enrollment -  Allows students the option of taking community college courses on one of our high school campuses through a partnership with College of San Mateo and Skyline College. Students receive both high school and college credit.
    • SMUHSD Graduation Requirements - All graduates must complete a minimum of 220 credits of coursework. Visit your school’s counseling webpage for further details and worksheets. 
    • A-G Requirements - Sequence of high school courses that students must complete (with a grade of C or better) to be minimally eligible for admission to the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU). Learn more and search for approved A-G courses.

     

     

Instructional Key Terms

    • Remote / Distance Learning - Instruction for students who are not physically present with the teacher
    • Asynchronous Learning - Students learn the same material, but at different times and in different locations. Examples include pre-recorded video lectures, independent reading and discussion boards through Canvas.
    • Synchronous Learning - Students learn the same material at the same time, but might be in different locations. Examples include live lectures, scheduled assessments, small group discussions, and digital office hours.
    • Blended Learning - Approach to learning that combines some in-person instruction with some technology mediated learning experiences. The latter experiences could be asynchronous or synchronous.
    • Hybrid Learning - Method of synchronous learning where instruction is offered simultaneously to a group of in-person students and another group of students asynchronously. Students may attend school on different days to decrease the number of students in the classroom at one time. 
    • Flipped Instruction -  A type of hybrid learning in which the content is provided asynchronously and the in-person learning focuses on deepening students’ understanding of material. Students are introduced to content remotely and practice working through it at school.
    • Master Schedule - Defines which teachers meet with which students, for how long, and about what topics. It's a function of the school's philosophy, a reflection of its vision, and a blueprint for its resource allocation.