COVID-19 Response Plan Q&A
ABOVE: Making lemonade out of lemons! An AHS student is looking forward to a little change in routine. We are also sensitive that many disappointments come with these safety measures, including cancellation of events that students and families have looked forward to for years. We are already thinking and planning for ways to create substitute and alternative experiences that we trust will be valuable and memorable, even if not exactly the way we all had imagined them. Help us with that thinking!
April 20, 2020
Dear AHS Community,
With feedback and support from our Board of Trustees and Health & Safety Committee, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to extend our school dismissal and continue with AHS Online classes through the end of the current school year (remainder of Term 4).
This decision follows the directive given by Governor Herbert for closure of public schools statewide through the end of the current school year.
Just as we know you are doing each day at home, we are also learning and adapting each day to make the experience better and more tolerable for whatever length of time we will be doing this. We’re all in this together, and we will be doing everything in our power to ensure that it is as positive an experience as we can possibly make it for all of us! We are good at this, and we are getting better at it every day.
For example, this month we announced various COVID-19 Coursework and GPA Adaptations. aimed at:
– reducing homework load (especially in high school) and thereby relieving some pressure from teachers and students;
– giving students in grades 7–12 options to drop certain elective courses not required for graduation;
– giving high school students pass/fail options to prevent their GPA’s from suffering as a result of unforeseen circumstances during 4th Term; and
– modifying the GPA threshold for an A from 94% to 93% (consistent with other area high schools) and applying that change to benefit cumulative GPA’s retroactively for all current high school students.
As necessary as the decision was to keep our campus closed through the end of the current school year, it wasn’t an easy decision because of all that it implies, especially for our seniors. Questions like: “What about graduation, Senior Week, AP Tests, spring athletics, yearbook,” and other sensitive questions come in the wake of this decision.
Graduation will still be held. You (seniors) have worked too long and too hard for it not to be held. We are talking about new dates in the summer for graduation. We are not talking about cancelling graduation. If we are missing a few of you for the rescheduled date (to be announced later), we may need to record a few of you on video or include you electronically by video conference, but we will include you!
Senior Week will happen! And it will be FUN! We’re not ready to announce exactly when or where, but we can say that we have received some very exciting proposals, and we still want and need your ideas, too. We’re not forgetting about you, seniors!
Yearbooks will be delivered by mail, car, or carrier pigeon, and they will be awesome! As for signing them, we’re already working on ways to get each other’s sentiments and signatures into each other’s yearbooks. We will find a way!
AP Tests will continue to be administered, online, at home, and OPEN BOOK! If you choose not to take them, you will receive a refund. But just know that the AP Board has made so many accommodations, including only testing on material covered through 3rd Term, and making the questions easier, frankly, we think this is a GREAT year to take an AP exam, possibly one of the best years in the history of AP testing! AP students may still drop their AP test and receive a refund by emailing Adam Hendrickson (email@example.com) and Teresa Carr (firstname.lastname@example.org) right away if they desire to do this.
UHSAA Athletics & Activities are all canceled for the remainder of the term and until further notice. We are optimistic that activities will begin again in the Fall; however, until we are further notified, UHSAA policies prohibit using school facilities or organizing team practices and/or team gatherings. We will provide refunds for participation fees based upon costs the school incurred and how much, if any, of the season you were able to play.
AHS Enrollment Trends. The school has seen the vast majority of families stay enrolled in AHS online courses during March and April, and the same vast majority has re-enrolled for the fall. We also have had many families apply to the school this admissions season, and our admissions office continues to conduct virtual tours for families still applying to the school.
Financial Aid. If you are a household that is experiencing significant financial pressure and can’t see your way through next Fall, or even through next month, there are options: (1) contact Adam Hendrickson to discuss short-term financial aid (simplified, streamlined process for immediate assistance), email@example.com; (2) fill out an Application for Financial Aid by May 1, and (3) stay tuned for announcements about potential part-time, reduced-price options for next year.
At the same time, we continue to ask families to please donate to the Annual Fund if you can. Tuition covers only half the true cost of a seat at AHS. Donations make up the rest. Paying your tuition and donating to the Annual Fund are the two best way to financially support families and employees at AHS!
Refunds. We will be processing refunds for programs and offerings at the school for which we collected money, but for which no costs were incurred by the school, such as prepayments for Pizza and some or all athletics participation fees, depending upon whether the season had started. You should receive those refunds by the end of April. If you haven’t received an expected refund by May 1, contact Mr. Hendrickson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following is an updated FAQ so that you can get up-to-date information and support as it is released:
Q: What are the chances that we will be back in school by this fall? A: It is very likely that we will be back in school in the fall. That is the operating assumption of most public and private schools in Utah at this point; however, the successful flattening of the COVID-19 curve in Utah places the peak somewhere between mid-May and July, depending upon the particular forecast, and there is also a possibility of COVID-19 resurgence during the fall/winter flu season. Thus, we are hoping for the best (full return to campus) and actively planning for the rest, including high quality online and blended home/campus classes that will continue be made available as options even if school is safely back in session on campus, and that could be used by all families in the event that school is ever required to be closed again for situations like COVID-19 presented. We will continue to follow guidance from state and local health officials and let you know as soon as we feel that we can/should commit more definitively.
Q: How are teachers communicating with students in the meantime? A: Detailed outlines and instructions are provided to students and families by teachers and on Veracross, which serves as the primary learning management hub for all assignments and class video-conference links. The primary videoconferencing platform is Zoom.
Q: How do teachers know how to connect with our family? Where do we update our contact information? A: It is very important that your household contact information (especially e-mail) for parents and students be current in Veracross. Veracross is a secure, password-protected database for school and teacher use only. Please go to “My Household” on the Veracross Parent Portal and scroll down to the “Family Information” section to update.
Q: Will parents be doing most of the teaching at home? Won’t parents and students be overwhelmed with the process of trying to learn how to do full-time school from home, especially with multiple children in different grades? A: No and No. Our teachers will continue to do most of the instruction and coordination. Parents and students will receive clear outlines and instructions via Veracross, and we will also focus on online platform training for students and teachers. Teachers will keep the assignments minimal and essential to maintain progress in the most important areas. We want to make this as easy on parents and students as possible! We promise to be gentle, flexible, and responsive to your needs and desires over this next two weeks.
Q: What experience does AHS have with distance learning? A: We have been conducting distance and online learning for well over a decade. We are good at this, and not just in our American Heritage Worldwide department. Our on-campus teachers are good at this, too, and are very experienced in supporting families with structured, high-quality learning even when those families are making the progress from home. We do this already through various online tools and platforms with which you are familiar.
Additionally, American Heritage Worldwide Family School and Online High School has thousands of faith-oriented, media-rich lesson plans across nearly a hundred subject areas which will be made available FREE to all fully enrolled AHS families.
Q: Is homework required or optional? A: Online courses in grades 9-12 receive transcript grades and credit toward graduation; therefore, unless stated otherwise by the teachers, online assignments in grades 9-12 are required to be completed if credit is desired. Online assignments in Grades K-8 are optional, depending purely upon the expectations and desires of parents and students in those levels. Additional optional enrichment study/activities will be available at all levels K-12 for those who want more, but not on a required basis. (Optional is SUCH a powerful word, right?)
Q: What if we don’t have laptops or other materials for each of our children? A: The school has 350 laptops available for check-out to families that really need them, and approximately 100 that remain available. Checking the laptops out requires coming to the school during 9–1 hours to obtain the laptop from the I.T. department and receiving unique credentials and care instructions. If you know that you will be requesting a laptop, send an e-mail to email@example.com with your name, your student’s name and grade level, and the date/time that you would like to come pick up the laptop. If you have your child’s computer log-in and password before coming, it will help, but we can also reset it. Contact Austin or Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-642-0055 x515 with questions. Please don’t think that the coming weeks will require sitting in front of a screen all day. Teachers will be encouraging plenty of healthy activities, home-based projects, experiential learning, and family time!
Q: Which events and activities are cancelled, and when will we know about rescheduling? A: All activities, including sports practices and rehearsals, are cancelled through May 1. We will keep you apprised of additional changes to event schedules beyond the two-week period. We are also sensitive that many disappointments come with these safety measures, including cancellation of events that families have looked forward to for years. We are already thinking and planning for ways to create substitute and alternative experiences that we trust will be valuable and memorable, even if not exactly the way we all had imagined them.
Q: Will the school be completely closed and locked with no access? A: At this point, no. We understand that employees, parents, and students may have various needs to come to school for various reasons. We will hold office hours of 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will take calls until 3 p.m. on business days. Doors will be open for those who need access. Having said that, we do plan to conduct deep cleaning, and we are participating in a state-wide effort to conduct careful and reasonable “social distancing.” So, after our teacher inservice on Monday, March 16, we are asking that everyone in the school community please limit your presence on campus to the extent that you possibly can. While at home, we also urge caution about planning events as groups, and recommend that if you engage with others, that those interactions happen in setting with as few people as are necessary and appropriate. Out of an abundance of caution, we also discourage students from gathering in groups if it can be avoided.
Q: What if I don’t feel ready for this? A: If you don’t feel prepared for this, don’t worry. You’re not the only one. We won’t rush you. We’ll give people time. We’ll give people options. We’re all in this together, and things won’t be perfect the first time around, but you will be amazed with what we can accomplish TOGETHER!
We are looking forward to some wonderful teaching and learning experiences that, although organized in different settings, will be filled with faith, friends, family, and FUN!
Thank you, all! You are the most remarkable and supportive school community we could ever hope for. We know that there are still questions that need answers, and we appreciate your patience (and assistance!) as we work to provide you with those answers. Teachers are EXCITED to create a GREAT experience in coming weeks for your families.
Stay tuned and keep communicating with us. Good things to come!
Sincerely, –Mr. Beckwith