Distance Learning Update

March 30, 2020

Dear Parents and HCPS Families, 

The changes to your lives as caregivers and our work as teachers and educators have emerged in unbelievable ways these last few weeks.  We so very much appreciate your patience as we put together plans for continuing student learning this spring while school buildings are closed.  As this crisis continues to change each day, the guidance and rules from the state have also been evolving, including as recently as over the weekend.  

We are now at a point where we do have some updates we can share with you as we plan for continuing the learning with your children through the end of the traditional school year.  

First, we want to acknowledge that this new “distance learning” will not be able to duplicate what we are able to do with our students when we are in school.  So, while we can’t replace that learning, what we want to do is provide learning opportunities so that your child can keep progressing and be ready to take off again when we are all back together in school.  

While we are providing these opportunities, we want to give you grace to choose what is possible for your family right now, as there are unspeakable hardships faced by many during this crisis.  So please know, we provide these learning opportunities with respect and love, and we understand that some may be able to follow these more than others.  

Here are key details of the distance learning plans for this spring by level:

Elementary Schools

  • Plans will cover two weeks at a time, with suggested daily learning activities of about 1-2 hours for K-2nd grade students and 2-3 hours for 3rd-5th grade students.  We will provide these learning plans each two weeks, starting April 14th, electronically. For families who wish to have paper copies, we plan to make paper copies available in front of the school every other Tuesday (starting on April 14th).  Links will be provided for additional learning for students who may be able to go further. 

Middle School

  • Plans will be released for the spring starting on April 14th, and the learning activities are planned for about 2-3 hours of work each day.  There will be a “Table of Contents” that guides students through the work each week. Updates and reminders of work will be provided every two weeks.  For families who wish to have paper copies, we plan to make paper copies available in front of the school every other Tuesday (starting on April 14th). 

High School

  • Plans will be released for the spring starting on April 14th, with learning activities planned for about 3-4 hours of work each day.  Because of the wide variety of course types at high school, some of these will look slightly different by course. Additional details will be coming out about high school courses later this week.  

As for grading, we are keenly aware that students and families have very different circumstances at home.  We also know that you appreciate our limitations in providing some of the services routinely available to students when they are at school.  For these reasons, and under guidance of the state, grading for this year will focus on work assigned up through March 13th (except for the high school 2nd semester courses and dual enrollment courses).  

Thus, grades for students in all courses except those high school courses will be calculated using three quarters.  The first two quarters were completed and grades were distributed. For the third quarter, we completed most of the quarter and will use the shortened quarter as a full quarter grade.  Teachers will reach out to students who had work to still turn in or make up so that it could be counted for that third quarter grade.  

Beyond the grades, our teachers plan to reach out to students to both check-in and provide feedback on their work so students can continue learning and growing.  We ask for your help in partnering with us as we teach students that learning is important for the future - beyond whatever grade they may earn.  

We realize that these updates may create additional questions, and we appreciate in advance your patience as we work through all sorts of new challenges in this crisis.  We will continue to provide you regular updates. Please know that what is of the utmost importance to us right now is that our students feel loved, connected with their teachers, missed at school and secure even as our nation navigates the greatest crisis of our lifetime.  

We thank you for your partnership as we all work together to get on the other side of this pandemic.  Please know we miss your children very, very much and all look forward to being together with them again.  Until then, learning continues and our respect for what you do together with us for your children grows each and every day. 

We have regular daily phone coverage at the School Board Office.  If you need us, call us. We are all working Monday through Friday from our homes.  While we find this extremely difficult, we are doing our part to slow the spread of this deadly disease.  We love you and pray for your health and safety. Blessings to all until we can be together again. With much love and respect,

Melody Hackney, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools