Heritage Academy Distance Learning Plan

Last Updated: March 19, 2020

Introduction to H.A.’s Distance Learning Plan(DLP) 

This document is designed to describe the actions and approach Heritage Academy will take in the event of an extended campus closure. It does not detail specific emergency protocols; those measures are maintained in H.A.’s Emergency Response Handbook. Rather, understanding that each emergency situation is different, we endeavor in this Distance Learning Plan (DLP) to provide a flexible distance learning framework with guidelines that can be implemented in a variety of circumstances. 

Circumstances will vary when H.A. might close its campus and implement this DLP. For example, in the event of a natural disaster, a number of days may pass before conditions have stabilized to the point that the implementation of this DLP is appropriate. In emergencies such as viral pandemics, school leaders and H.A.’s Board of Directors may anticipate campus closure and designate a future date when distance learning will begin. 

If H.A.’s campuses are closed and this DLP is implemented, the Head of School will send email communications to both parents and faculty/staff making this announcement and delineating a timeline for implementation. An exact date will be designated when distance learning will begin for H.A. students. Students will not attend school or be required to begin distance learning until the date designated by the Head of School. 


10 Guidelines for H.A.’s Teachers 


The transition to distance learning will not be simple or easy. Teachers will need to think differently about how to communicate, give instruction, and provide feedback; how to design lessons and assignments that are authentic and meaningful; and how to ensure students continue to collaborate and communicate with others. The ten guidelines provided below are intended to help teachers across all divisions reflect on challenges they’ll confront in shifting to distance learning. 

1—Walk the Talk of Inspire, Challenge, and Motivate

H.A.’s Mission is to Inspire, Challenge, and Motivate our students. In the event of a crisis that leads to implementation of this Distance Learning Plan (DLP), your students may be stressed or worried. Before diving into curriculum, take the time to assess your students’ mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. How are they doing? How are their families? Continue regular check-ins with your students as long as this DLP is in place. 

2—Evaluate your students’ conditions for distance learning 

While most students will have reliable online access at home and the necessary devices to shift to distance learning, others will not. Teachers should remember that each family’s circumstances will vary and they should avoid assumptions about limitations or restrictions students are facing. Ask your students and/or their parents to confirm whether their online access is reliable; and what devices the student has at their disposal. Open a dialogue with families and avoid assumptions that all students’ circumstances are the same. 

3—Stick with the familiar 

Especially in the first weeks after moving to this DLP, teachers should continue using existing communication channels and learning management systems. In other words, stick with what’s familiar to your students. Teachers should remember that while many students will thrive with distance learning, others will struggle. In the event that the school remains closed for a longer period of time, it may become necessary to explore new or different learning platforms that provide different experiences. In the beginning, stick with the familiar. 

4—Less is more 

Should H.A. implement this DLP, one challenge confronting teachers will be how to best streamline content and elevate the most essential learning for students. In other words, teachers need to take a less-is-more perspective, including the pacing of lessons and assignments. It can also be hard to know exactly how long school closure might last, which makes longer-term planning difficult. 

5—Seize the moment; embrace new opportunities and possibilities for your students 

Years or decades from now, how will your students remember the emergency that resulted in school closure? While distance learning should attempt to bring some normalcy and routine to students’ lives, teachers shouldn’t ignore the opportunities resulting from school closure either. Teachers might require students to keep a daily journal or diary for the duration of the crisis. Personal journaling and/or other creative writing assignments can help students process their thoughts, worries, and emotions, particularly in times of crisis. Students might use other media as well, including video, drawing, painting, and music. Moreover, the crisis might also provide other real-life opportunities to study scientific phenomena associated with the crisis, how the media is reporting the incident, how governments are responding, and many other opportunities to seize the moment and design new learning trans disciplinary experiences for our students. 

6—Provide space for personalized learning 

Distance learning can provide opportunities for students to personalize what, how, and when they learn. Students can move more flexibility and freely through content when teachers create nonlinear curricula.Distance learning can also provide students with the opportunity to learn at different paces (e.g. IXL, Khan Academy, Seesaw). School closure could also create opportunities for more authentic learning. What museums, galleries, concerts, or memorials might they experience through virtual tours and field trips? How might they share these alternative experiences with their classmates? How might students be empowered to create their own learning pathways and experiences? nts be empowered to create their own learning pathways and experiences? 

7—Designers of experience; facilitators of learning 

In shifting to distance learning, it is especially important for teachers to think of themselves as designers of experiences and facilitators of learning (as opposed to distributors of knowledge). Distance learning places a premium on a teacher’s ability to think more deeply about how to introduce content, design experiences, and coach students with thoughtful, specific feedback. Teachers need to establish conditions where students have a clear sense of purpose, opportunities to express themselves, and experiences that allow them to work toward mastery. This will help students stay motivated and engaged in learning, even when they are not physically at school. 

8—Design asynchronous learning experiences 

When school is closed teachers can still connect them asynchronously. For example, teachers can use familiar LMS discussion forums or tools like Canvas (discussion boards) and Padlet to allow for student responses and dialogue during a set time period, knowing that students might not all be online at the same exact time. 

9—Design synchronous learning experiences 

When it comes to student engagement and learning, relationships matter as much online as they do in person. If H.A.’s campus was closed, students might be able to gather for synchronous learning times via video chat using Zoom.  Collaboration remains important and there are many ways teachers can foster it through synchronous learning.

10—Think differently about assessment 

Assessment is one of the most challenging adjustments for teachers new to distance learning. Distance learning should be seen as an opportunity for students, individually or collaboratively, to complete writing assignments, design info graphics, make video presentations, or complete oral assessments via video chat. Teachers are encouraged to think differently about the end goal to performance instead of forcing a traditional assessment method that doesn’t fit distance learning. Thinking differently about assessment will positively influence the experience for students, leverage the strengths of distance learning, and prevent frustration on the teacher’s part when traditional methods do not work. 

10 Guidelines for H.A’s Parents 

The transition to distance learning will be challenging for families. Parents will need to think differently about how to support their children; how to create structures and routines that allow their children to be successful; and how to monitor and support their children’s learning. Some students will thrive with distance learning, while others may struggle. The ten guidelines provided below are intended to help parents think about what they can do to help their children find success in a distance learning environment. 

1—Establish routines and expectations 

From the first day H.A. implements its DLP, parents need to establish routines and expectations. H.A. encourages parents to set regular hours for their children’s school work. We suggest students begin their studies at 8:00am. Keep normal bedtime routines for younger children and expect the same from your middle school (MS) and high school (HS) aged students, too. (Don’t let them stay up late and sleep in!) Your children should move regularly and take periodic breaks as they study. It is important that parents set these expectations for how their children will spend their days starting as soon as distance learning is implemented, not several days later after it becomes apparent a child is struggling with the absence of routine. 

2—Define the physical space for your child’s study 

Your child may have a regular place for doing homework under normal circumstances, but this space may or may not be suitable for an extended period of time, as will be the case if this DLP is implemented. We encourage families to establish a space/location where their children will learn most of the time. This should be a public/family space, not in a child’s bedroom. It should be a place that can be quiet at times and have a strong wireless Internet signal, if possible. Above all, it should be a space where parents are present and monitoring their children’s learning. 

3—Monitor communications from your children’s teachers 

Teachers will communicate with parents through email, when and as necessary. The frequency and detail of these communications will be determined by your children’s ages, maturity, and their degree of independence. H.A. wants parents to contact their children’s teachers. However, we ask parents to remember that teachers will be communicating with dozens of other families, if not 50+, and that communications should be essential, succinct, and self-aware. We also encourage parents to have their children explain the Learning Management Systems (e.g. Canvas, Seesaw, Google Classroom) teachers are using. 

4—Begin and end each day with a check-in 

Parents are encouraged to start and finish each day with a simple check-in. In the morning, ask what is your child learning today? What are their learning targets or goals? How will they spend their time? What resources do they require? What support do they need? This brief grounding conversation matters. It allows children to process the instructions they’ve received from their teachers. It helps them organize themselves and set priorities. Older students may not want to have these check-ins with parents (that’s normal!), but they should nevertheless. Parents should establish these check-ins as regular parts of each day. Not all students thrive in a distance learning environment; some struggle with too much independence or lack of structure. These check-in routines need to be established early, before students fall behind or begin to struggle. 

5—Take an active role in helping your children process and own their learning 

In the course of a regular school day at H.A., your son or daughter engages with other students or adults dozens if not hundreds of times. These social interactions and opportunities for mediation include turning to a peer to exchange a thought or idea, participating in small or large group discussions, asking questions for clarification, collaborating on group projects, and countless other moments. While some of these social interactions will be re-created on virtual platforms, others will not. Human beings learn best when they have opportunities to process their learning with others. Beyond the check-ins recommended at the start and end of each day, parents should regularly circle back and engage with their children about what they’re learning. However, it’s important that your child owns their work; don’t complete assignments for them, even when they are struggling. 

6—Establish times for quiet and reflection 

A huge challenge for families with multiple children will be how to manage all of their children’s needs, especially when those children are different ages and have different needs. There may be times when siblings need to work in different rooms to avoid distraction. Parents may even experiment with noise-cancelling headphones (no music necessary!) to block out distractions. 

7—Encourage physical activity and/or exercise 

Make sure your children remember to move and exercise. This is vitally important to their health, wellbeing, and to their learning. H.A.’s physical education teacher and coaches will recommend activities or exercises, but it is important for parents to model and encourage exercise. Think also about how your children can pitch in more around the house with chores or other responsibilities. 

8—Remain mindful of your child’s stress or worry 

It is imperative for parents to help their children manage the worry, anxiety, and range of emotions they may experience. Difficult though it may be, you are encouraged to do your best not to transfer your stress or worry to your children. They will be out of sorts, whether they admit it or not, and need as much normal routine as parents can provide. 

9—Monitor how much time your child is spending online 

H.A. does not want its students staring at computer screens for 7-8 hours a day. We ask that parents remember most teachers are not experts in distance learning and that it will require some trial-and-error before we find the right balance between online and offline learning experiences. Teachers will periodically check in with you to assess what you’re seeing at home and what we need to adjust. We thank you in advance for your patience and partnership! 

10—Keep your children social, but set rules around their social media interactions 

There’s always excitement when H.A. closes school for severe weather and snow days. If H.A. implements this DLP, the initial excitement of school being closed will fade quickly when students start missing their friends, classmates, and teachers. Help your children maintain contact with friends and see them in person when circumstances permit. Please also monitor your children’s social media use, especially during an extended school closure. Older students will rely more on social media to communicate with friends. Social media apps such as SnapChat, Instagram, WhatsApp, or Facebook are not official, school-sanctioned channels of communication.  As always, Heritage asks parents to monitor their children’s use of social media. Remind your children to be polite, respectful, and appropriate in their communications and to represent your family’s values in their interactions with others. A student’s written words and tone can sometimes offend or cause harm to others. 


Roles & Responsibilities During Distance Learning 


Many stakeholders will contribute to the effective implementation of this DLP. The roles and responsibilities of school personnel, students, and parents, are delineated below. 



Admin Team 
  • Create and distribute H.A.’s Distance Learning Plan, or DLP 

  • Establish clear channels of communications between faculty, staff, families, and 
students in the event of this DLP being activated 

  • Support faculty and students/families shifting to a distance learning environment 

  • Help teachers implement DLP and ensure high-quality learning experience for all 

  • Collaborate with other members of your team or department to design distance learning experiences for your students 

  • Communicate frequently with your students and, as needed, with their parents 

  • Provide timely feedback to support your students’ learning 

  • Reflect on the 10 Guidelines for H.A.’s Teachers shared earlier in the DLP and how you 
can implement them 
Guidance Counselor
  • Communicate information about ACT Testing and Prep with Students
  • Serve as liaison for communication with students/families in crisis
  • Host Office Hours at set times for students to access counseling sessions virtually 

  • Students, parents, and guardians encouraged to schedule these meetings as needed 


Student Roles & Responsibilities 

  • Establish daily routines for engaging in the learning experiences (e.g. 8:00am start) 

  • Identify a comfortable, quiet space in your home where you can work effectively and successfully 

  • Regularly monitor online platforms (Canvas, SeeSaw, Google Classroom, email, etc.) to check for announcements and 
feedback from your teachers 

  • Complete assignments with integrity and academic honesty, doing your best work 

  • Do your best to meet timelines, commitments, and due dates 

  • Communicate proactively with your teachers if you cannot meet deadlines or require additional support 

  • Collaborate and support your H.A. peers in their learning 

  • Comply with H.A.’s Acceptable Use Policy, including expectations for online etiquette 

  • Proactively seek out and communicate with other adults at H.A. as different needs arise (see below) 

For queries about ...  Contact
a course, assignment, or resource the relevant teacher (email addresses are available in Power School)
a technology-related problem or issue

H.A.’s email based support ticketing: hasupport@heritagepatriots.com 


a personal, academic or social-emotional concern guidance counselor 
other issues related to distance learning the principal 

Elementary School Priorities and Considerations: 

  • The primary tools for communication between teachers and families will be Seesaw, 
 email, the Heritage Academy website (www.heritagepatriots.com), Zoom conference meetings, and Google Classroom (grades 3-6). 

  • Students will have both off- and on-screen learning activities designed to engage learners in experiences that connect to current curriculum. 

  • Learning tasks and activities will provide direction to families on how best to support 
student learning and the expected level of adult involvement. It is expected that students in grades K4-2 will need higher levels of support than students in grades 3-6. 


Elementary School: Approximate Time Frames for Learning 

K4 to Second Grade

30-35 minutes  Reading
15-20 minutes  Writing
30-35 minutes  Mathematics
20-25 minutes Science/Social Studies related experiences and/or integrated projects

Third to Sixth Grade

40-45 minutes Reading
25-30 minutes Grammar (Language)
25-30 minutes Writing
25-30 minutes Mathematics
20-25 minutes Science/Social Studies related experiences and/or integrated projects


Middle School Priorities & Considerations 

  • The primary tools for communication between teachers and families will be Canvas, the Heritage Academy website (www.heritagepatriots.com)and email. 

  •  Teachers will either link materials linked in Canvas class pages or share materials directly to each student’s email. 

  • Students will have both off- and on-screen learning activities designed to engage the middle school learner. 

  •  Learning experiences are designed to be completed independently or in collaboration with other students. 
  • Resources vary by class and lesson, yet will include links to videos, graphic organizers or scanned material.
  • Students are encouraged to be proactive in reaching out to teachers when they have questions or assignments are unclear. 

  • The guidance counselor is always available to support students with academic, social, or emotional needs. 


 Middle School: Approximate Time Frames for Learning & Resources 

All MS Students (Grades 7-8)
50-60 minutes Math
30-40 minutes Literature
30-40 minutes Grammar
30-40 minutes Writing
30-40 minutes Science
30-40 minutes STEM (8th Grade)
30-40 minutes Social Studies
50-60 minutes Flex Time Read for pleasure, explore personal interests/hobbies, be active outdoors

High School Priorities & Considerations 

  • The primary tools for communication between teachers and families will be Canvas, the Heritage Academy website (www.heritagepatriots.com)and email. 

  • Teachers will either link materials linked in Canvas class pages or share materials directly to each student’s email. 

  • Students will have both off- and on-screen learning activities designed to engage the high school learner. 

  • Learning experiences are designed to be completed independently or in collaboration with other students. 
  • Resources vary by class and lesson, but will include links to videos, graphic organizers or scanned material.
  • Students are encouraged to be proactive in reaching out to teachers when they have questions or assignments are unclear. 

  • The guidance counselor is always available to support students with academic, social, or emotional needs. 

High School: Approximate Time Frames for Learning & Resources 

All HS Students (Grades 9-12)
50-60 minutes English
50-60 minutes Math
50-60 minutes History
50-60 minutes Science
40-50 minutes Elective
50-60 minutes Read for pleasure, explore personal interests/hobbies, be active outdoors



Concern or question?

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Additional resources

Provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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