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!

March 26, 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 May 1.

This decision follows the directive given by Governor Herbert for closure of public schools statewide. Given the Governor’s announcement of the “Utah Leads Together” emergency response plan, and given the very real possibility of shelter-in-place restrictions to be announced in coming hours/days that could last for weeks, we also need you to begin preparing yourselves for the likelihood of home-based education and AHS Online classes through the end of the Term 4.

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, today we announced various initiatives in process that are aimed at:

– reducing homework load (especially in high school) and thereby relieving some pressure from teachers and students;

– giving high school students some options to prevent their GPA’s from suffering as a result of unforeseen circumstances during 4th Term; and

– reducing tuition price through creative enrollment options for the 2020-21 year.

These plans are all under review by faculty departments, administrators, and our Board of Trustees, and details will be announced when finalized.

For now, just know that we are listening to your excellent feedback, and we are responding as quickly and carefully as we can.   

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.

It is very important that your household contact information (especially e-mail) for parents and students be current in Veracross. Please go to “My Household” on the Veracross Parent Portal and scroll down to the “Family Information” section to update.

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 May 1? A: It is likely that we will be out of school and conducting online classes past May 1; however, we will follow guidance from state and local health officials and let you know as soon as we feel that we can/should commit to a longer time-frame.

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 the instruction and coordination. Parents and students will receive clear outlines and instructions via Veracross prior to this Wednesday, and we will also focus on online platform training for students and teachers this Wednesday. 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 desiredOnline 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 support@ahsmail.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 support@ahsmail.com 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 faithfriendsfamily, 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