April 5, 2020

Aloha ULS Parents/Guardians,

We hope that students have had a fruitful week working on all the different enrichment learning activities provided by teachers. This past week really was a time for students, teachers and parents to start to transition to distance learning, the new way of learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. While ULS has always been proud of our advancements in using technology in the classroom or to support traditional learning styles, we were not ready to quickly switch to an online or distance learning education program. We believe we have used the past few weeks in the best way possible to ensure that our students have had the time to get acclimated to a new way of learning and that our teachers have had the necessary time to prepare and practice implementing a new way of teaching our unique ULS program. We also took into account that while providing an education to our students is always our goal, it is not the only goal. Every person in the state, nation and world is learning how to exist in a COVID-19 reality right now. This also takes time and planning and can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for children and adults alike. The health, safety and welfare of our students is at the forefront of everything we do and every decision we make.

With that said, we are fortunate to have a collaborative faculty and staff that have really come together to support the school’s effort in continuing to provide an education program to our students. In addition to the HIDOE and ULS Learning Opportunities resources provided, starting on Monday, April 6 we will continue the distance learning in COVID-19. The program includes the following parameters:

  1. Scheduled class Google Meet Check-ins with teachers. Attendance will be taken. 
  2. Scheduled office hours for students to virtual meet with teachers and counselors. 
  3. Support mechanisms are set in place to help students adjust to online learning through the ULS Distance Learning Hub. (ex: work organization, time management, technology issues, social and emotional help).  The link to the hub is on the ULS Student Portal only accessible to ULS students. 
  4. Teachers may introduce new content and topics or do an in-depth analysis of previous concepts. Teachers will provide feedback to students on these lessons to encourage growth of knowledge and interest. 
  5. When and where possible, teachers will allow students to address the areas that need improvement to raise grades to be entered into PowerSchool, benefitting the student’s final semester grade. Teachers will do their utmost to help your child(ren) make academic gains during this special COVID-19 distance learning time and a student’s positive engagement and follow-through is required for success. 

Teachers may allow students:

  • To submit work that was not submitted during the 3rd quarter 
  • To resubmit assignments that can help students reinforce/have a better understanding of the content and concepts of knowledge they did not fully grasp earlier in the semester for consideration to improve the grade earned for that assignment.  (Depending on the background of the assignment [if it requires a lab to redone/recreated, it will not be considered to be resubmitted.]
  • To turn in the assignments that was already assigned prior to spring break 

 

All due dates will be adhered to during this period of time. These assignments are optional, but completing and turning them in can have a positive effect on final grades. Teachers are expecting students to do the work.

Please go over these program parameters with your child in order to prepare them for the weeks ahead. We appreciate your support at home in motivating your child to continue to strive for their educational goals and finish the year strong. 

In addition to this, we want to also provide you with some information regarding our Teaching and Learning in COVID-19 plan and guidance for you in supporting and working with your child at home.

Why optional not required?

All public and charter schools are required to follow the agreement between HIDOE and Hawai‘i State Teachers Association (HSTA) regarding student and teacher participation in distance learning. Schools cannot require any student to attend online classes nor can schools require students to complete assigned work. The reason for this being that not all families have the means to access distance learning. Regardless of ULS’ technological capabilities, we have students of varying home life situations and must take that in account. We have also had to support our teachers and make sure that they are given the best possible environment from which to teach in.

 

Why are ULS teachers assigning and grading work that will affect my child’s final grade if it’s optional?

The work that is assigned can only positively affect a student’s final grade. This should motivate students to follow directions and put forth their best effort into their assignments or project work. Teachers have made themselves available during scheduled office hours or through email or Google classroom to support students in this endeavor. If a student does poorly on the assignment, it will not negatively affect their final grade. We feel that students deserve the opportunity to continue achieving even in this new learning environment. We believe that this way allows students to do this while also keeping undue stress or pressure at a minimum.

I see attendance will be taken for the Google Meet check-ins. Why?

The Google Meet check-ins are a time for teachers and students to connect with each other.  Teachers will not be teaching, but may use the time to explain assignments and answer questions or to just share with each other. As everyone in the state gets used to living in a COVID-19 reality, being without contact or connection to friends, and familiar people like teachers, can have a negative emotional impact. We designed the Google Meet check-ins to help with this. The attendance is for teachers to know who hasn’t checked-in so they can make plans to get in touch with that student through other means of communication including emailing or calling parents.

 

I read on the parent email dated March 29, 2020, that there will be no powerschool updates for grades 6-12  for the month of April. When can I expect to see updates?

You can expect to see grades updated in PowerSchool starting in May, however, teachers are not expected to update until they are ready to.  Teachers will enter these grades in PowerSchool for students closer to the end of the semester.  Some assignments or projects will have a due date closer to that time.

Will assignments/projects have due dates?

Yes. Assignments and projects will have due dates so it’s important that students attend the Google Meet check-ins and take advantage of support or help if they are struggling. Again, because the assignments don’t have a negative effect, it takes some of that pressure off of students to allow them the room to achieve at their level. Due dates are needed so that teachers have time to assess and enter in grades when that time comes.

 

How long can I expect my child to be online everyday?

You can expect your child to have up to two hours a day of interactive time with teachers. Attached is the student letter and schedule that was sent to students. If there are any changes or cancelations, teachers will contact students directly. You can expect your child to have anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours of offline work to complete daily. Some classes will have more work than others.

 

Are there any rules or guidelines for the Google Meet check-ins I should discuss with my child?

Yes. In the coming weeks, teachers and students will be utilizing Google Meets to connect to one another.  You can help your child at home by setting up a quiet and appropriate space for them to do their online check-ins. Keep in mind that these check-ins will utilize the video feature. We want to stress the Acceptable Use Policies (AUP) specifically appropriate and responsible online behaviors. Teachers will be going over Google Meets etiquette with students next week. No one is allowed to post any of the Google Meet check-ins on social media as this is a violation of privacy laws. Please talk about this with your child(ren).

 

How can my child(ren) get technology support?

If your child is having trouble using the school issued device, they can contact the IT dept at ULS student portal or https://it.crdg.hawaii.edu:8443/helpdesk/WebObjects/Helpdesk.woa. IT can also assist students with using any of the Google suite applications if your child needs help with that.

 

Is there a place where my child can access all of this information to help them stay organized?

Yes. The ULS Distance Learning hub is the central location for all the tools and support students will need during this new distance learning environment. This hub is only accessible to those in the ULS protected organization, but you can ask your child to show you the hub and walk through it with them. If at any time your child needs support, please direct them to contact their teachers.

 

As a reminder, there is NO SCHOOL on Friday, April 10 Good Friday and Monday, April 20 School-in-service. No Google Meet check-ins will take place on those days.

We continue to ask for your patience and understanding as we all transition to this new way of life and for our students and teachers, this new learning environment. This is teaching and learning in COVID-19 and we can only try our best to live and learn in this unprecedented time. Here is a resource to help families deal with stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We hope that you and your family continue to stay healthy, and safe and we look forward to reconnecting soon.

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