Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

FAQs about School Opening & Distance Learning - Updated November 13, 2020

  • The Hybrid Schedule 

    • What does hybrid learning mean?
      • Hybrid learning means that students learn in person - at school - part of the time, and online - at home - part of the time. As with distance learning, hybrid is a blend of synchronous and asynchronous learning; the online video conference time that is part of distance learning is replaced with in-person learning in the classroom.
    • What does a “cohort” mean when you refer to the AM Cohort and the PM Cohort?
      • We are using the word “cohort” to describe the group of students that will meet together regularly during hybrid learning. Because of the physical distancing required due to COVID-19, we can fit about half of an elementary class in one classroom at a given time. This allows us to have one cohort that meets in the morning - the AM Cohort - and another that meets in the afternoon - the PM Cohort. Together, these two cohorts comprise all of the students in the teacher’s class. The Alameda County Public Health Department allows students and teachers to participate in more than one cohort, which is why the teacher is able to work with both AM and PM groups.
    • What schedule would be in place for elementary school hybrid learning?
      • The AM/PM schedule was supported by the Reopening Task Force and preferred by our elementary principals, largely because of the frequent interaction with teachers. This schedule would have students attend school 4 days per week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday) for about half a day. Basically, students would meet in person with their teacher and half of their classmates during the time that they are currently, in distance learning, meeting online in Google Meet or Zoom. One group of students would attend school in the morning; a second group would attend in the afternoon, 4 days per week. Students would not eat lunch at school. There would be some additional learning time for most students that would include independent work, reading, and/or asynchronous work. This schedule was the draft schedule featured in the 2020-21 Handbook this summer, except that we have been able to extend the school day from 2 1/2 hours to 2 hours and 45 minutes.
    • If my children end up with a different teacher at a different school during hybrid learning, will they be able to return to their original school when we fully reopen?
      • If we need to move students to another school in order to balance class sizes during hybrid learning, we will allow all students to return to their original schools at the start of the next school year. This will be true for students attending their neighborhood schools as well as for students who have transferred into their current school. No additional transfer requests will be needed.
    • If we choose to remain distance learners now, will there be another opportunity in the year to move to hybrid?
      • We are asking that parents and guardians make the best decision for their children with the understanding that the decision will determine placement until we are fully able to reopen our schools. If a vaccine is widely available and the threat of COVID-19 is reduced, we will be able to return students to school in normal numbers. All students, including those in distance learning, will be invited back to campus.
    • Will middle and high school students be able to return to in-person learning if our elementary schools remain in distance learning?
      • We submitted our Reopening Plan to the Alameda County Office of Education so that it covers the reopening of all of our grade levels. Now that the Alameda County Public Health Department has allowed middle and high schools to reopen, we will begin to offer support and enrichment hubs as an initial way to supplement online learning for our secondary students. Until last week, we had been told that we had to reopen elementary schools first, but now we have options to meet the needs of our students in different ways. Our middle and high school administrators and teachers are already beginning to plan for support hubs to take place in the near future, most likely after Winter Break.
    • What if I do not want my child to come to school?
      • We will continue to offer distance learning as an option through the end of the 2020-21 school year. 

     Academics & Instruction

    •  Will support hubs be available if we begin hybrid learning, or are they planned only if we continue in distance learning?
      • Support hubs will be available to provide students with the opportunity to have in-person support and enrichment opportunities when our district is in distance learning. Students would continue to have primary instruction online during the class sessions in Google Meet or Zoom, and then optional in-person hubs would be available once or twice a week. If we move to hybrid learning at the elementary schools, teachers will be teaching all day, so will not be available to offer support hubs. The middle and high school hybrid schedules are still being developed and finalized. 
    • For the 2020-2021 school year the State of California requires 180-240 minutes of instruction depending on grade level. How is the District auditing this now? And how will they audit if we choose distance learning?
      • Our teachers are following requirements of the California Department of Education (CDE) to monitor and measure attendance based on a student’s participation in an online class meeting as well as a student’s completion of assignments. Each asynchronous assignment - work completed during the student’s independent time and not with the teacher - has an average amount of time required to complete that translates into instructional/learning time. Attendance and participation will continue to be monitored in this manner for students who remain in distance learning. Our teachers record and our administrators monitor attendance, and we complete self-audits as well as sharing our records with auditors from the County Office of Education.
    • Will IEPs and 504 Plans be taken into consideration when deciding whether to move a student to a different classroom or a different school?
      • All teachers at all schools have the ability to serve students with IEPs and with 504 Plans. We do recognize that some students may need particular staffing needs, and we would be sure to meet the student’s needs. We have started serving our students with special needs in person through small cohorts that began the first week of November, and we intend to bring more students on to campuses over the next several weeks.

     Health & COVID Protections

    •  Will all students be required to wear face masks?
      • The Alameda County Public Health Department and the Alameda County Office of Education require that all individuals, including school staff and students (K and up) wear cloth face coverings, with the exception of students unable to wear them due to special circumstances such as particular developmental or health diagnosis that would limit their ability to wear a face covering. (See page 9 of Reopening Plan)
    • Will students and staff be screened before coming to school?
      • In order to limit the spread of COVID-19, students and staff will be screened for symptoms prior to entry to a District or school site. Parents/guardians will be expected to screen the student before coming to school, and to share the responses via a Google form that sends the information to the school. Students whose information has not been received will be screened and have a contactless temperature reading upon arrival at school.The health screening asks information in the following three areas: 
        • possible exposure to someone with COVID-19
        • symptoms and visual screening for illness
        • temperature
    • How will schools handle positive COVID cases?
      • If there is a confirmed positive case of a student or staff member during hybrid learning:
        • The school nurse will contact the Alameda County Public Health Department
        • All HIPPA and FERPA regulations will be followed.
        • Cohort members and close contacts will be notified that there was a confirmed positive case and will be advised to quarantine for 14 (calendar) days.
          • If the individual is in the AM cohort, the teacher and all students in the AM cohort will be quarantined for 14 days, shifting to distance learning during that time. The PM cohort will also switch to distance learning because the teacher will be quarantined, or will have a substitute.
          • Siblings and household members of the confirmed positive individuals will be notified of ACPHD and CDC protocols and advised to quarantine for 14 days. Siblings of confirmed positive students should not participate in in-person learning during the quarantine period.
        • Classroom and/or work space of the confirmed positive individual will be cleaned and disinfected, as outlined in the Cleaning & Disinfection section of this plan.
    • What happens if we are in hybrid learning and Alameda County’s COVID cases get worse? Will we have to return to distance learning?
    • How will bathrooms be cleaned if we return to hybrid learning?
      • Our custodial teams will thoroughly clean and disinfect bathrooms between cohorts. All surfaces will be cleaned with Envirox H2Orange2 cleaner. In addition, the bathrooms will be disinfected using EPA N listed Waxie 730 HP (EPA 45745-11) in the electrostatic machine. These products will be used to clean classrooms and touch points between cohorts, as well. These cleaning products are safe; they both use the ingredient hydrogen peroxide for killing germs, bacteria, and viruses. There are no medical conditions aggravated by over-exposure of these products. 
    • What will recess look like during hybrid learning?
      • Students will be allowed to have breaks including recess when they are learning at school. Recess outside can be a healthy way for students to take a mental break and get physically reenergized. Students will use hand sanitizer and/or wash their hands before going to recess and after recess, before reentering their classroom. Play structures will be used on a rotating basis and recess toys such as balls will be in limited use to prevent students from spreading germs.
    • If we have access to a vaccine before the end of the school year, will we all be able to come back to school? 
      • Our goal is to fully reopen our schools for all students and staff as soon as the pandemic recedes or a widespread vaccine can mitigate the dangers and the Public Health Department allows us to resume in normal capacity. If this return is possible before the end of the 2020-21 school year, students will continue in the classes they are enrolled in at the time. 

     Family Schedules & Childcare

    •  If my child participates in hybrid learning on campus, will we need to give up our ESS spot?
      • Students can participate in hybrid learning and still participate in ESS. The Alameda County Public Health Department allows children to participate in two cohorts with different children and adults, in addition to their participation in school. 
    • Will parents be able to select whether their child attends in the AM or PM schedule?
      • Students will be assigned to AM or PM cohorts with input from teachers. While we will not be able to offer the opportunity for parents to select a preferred time, parents can share concerns with their school principal. We will keep families together.

     Child Nutrition

    • Are all students eligible for free meals during the 2020-21 school year? 
      • We have received the federal waiver that will allow us to continue to serve meals to all children in Livermore, aged 18 and under through the end of the 2020-21 academic year. Children may receive free meals whether they are in distance or hybrid learning.

    Technology

    • Does my child need a Chromebook for distance learning?
      • A district-issued Chromebook is not required for distance learning. Students will need a computer or Chromebook with access to the internet that has a microphone and a camera. They are welcome to use devices already at home. Tablets and iPads will not be sufficient for distance learning.
    • Will my student need to have a microphone and a camera for class meetings? Does the teacher need to be able to see them?
      • Yes, students will need a device that has a microphone and a camera so that they can fully participate in the online classroom. 
    • How can I request a Chromebook or a hotspot?
      • If you completed the Fall 2020 Student Information Questionnaire, your school will have a Chromebook ready for your student during orientation before school starts. Schools will contact parents/guardians directly about receiving a hotspot. Please contact your school for any additional needs.
    • What if we have a power outage or issues with internet connectivity or other technical glitches that interfere with a student's ability to participate online?
      • If students must miss class or part of a class because of internet issues at home, we ask that the parent or guardian notify the teacher. The absence will be excused, and a make-up opportunity will be arranged. 
    • If we have device issues with a borrowed district Chromebook, what is the process for replacing it? 
      • If students have issues with a district Chromebook, please contact your school office. They will make arrangements for a new Chromebook.

    Distance Learning

    • What does synchronous and asynchronous learning mean?
      • Synchronous learning is education that is happening in real time, such as classroom meetings during distance learning. Students and teachers are both online at the same time during instruction.
        Asynchronous learning is education that occurs through online channels without real-time interaction, such as completing assignments in Schoology and various online curriculum platforms.
    • Will students be required to be online for the full blocks of each subject, or is this time shared between online instruction and offline work time?
      • Students should plan to be engaged in learning for each class during designated times. Not all of that time will necessarily be spent in a synchronous learning format, requiring them to be actively online in webinars. The structure of each block of time will be determined by your child’s teacher.
    • What happens during student-directed learning? 
      • Especially on Wednesdays, students may use this time for additional asynchronous education such as reading or working on individual assignments or projects that will be listed in Schoology. Guidance for student-directed learning time will be provided by your child’s teacher. Students have flexibility to schedule their tasks from different courses or subjects during this time in the manner that works best for them.
    • What are support/work periods for middle and high school students?
      • Support/work periods can include a combination of synchronous and asynchronous education. This time allows flexibility for students to engage in additional learning activities such as group collaboration, and for teachers to provide additional instruction to students in a particular class. This time can also be used for small-group support. Teachers will provide direction for the structure of this time. 
    • Can students use student-directed learning time for homework, such as study hall, or for teacher office hours?
      • Student-directed learning time is guided by assignments and instructions provided by your child’s teacher. Your child’s teacher may allow for this time to be used for purposes such as homework, study hall, or office hours if required work is completed early.

    Distance Learning Schedule 

    • Where can I find details about my school’s schedule?
      • General bell schedules are included in the 2020-21 School Year Handbook; each school, including Vineyard Alternative and Del Valle will post bell schedules on their websites and communicate directly with students and families.
    • When will students be told of their teacher assignment(s)?
      • Your school will share information about how and when you will receive schedules and teacher assignments. 
    • What time does school start?
      • Elementary school begins at 8:00 a.m. each day.
      • On the first day of school, middle school begins at 8:20 a.m. Students will attend all periods on the first day of school. Note, students with Zero Period start at 7:30 a.m.) After the first day of school, middle school students sign on for support sessions starting at 8:20, depending on the direction of their teachers. Primary instruction begins at 12:20 p.m. Mondays - Fridays.
      • On the first day of school, high school begins at 8:40 a.m. Students will attend all periods on the first day of school. After the first day of school, high school students sign on for support sessions starting at 8:40, depending on the direction of their teachers. Primary instruction begins at 12:20 p.m. Mondays - Fridays.
    • Will all classes at the same level be following the same daily curriculum or will it vary by teacher?
      • While the same curriculum standards will be covered by all teachers at each grade level, the daily organization in how they teach those standards will vary by teacher, just as they would in a traditional classroom setting. 
    • Are middle and high school students required to attend the support/work times scheduled for mornings Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday?
      • Both support/work periods and online instruction periods for each class are considered instructional minutes, so students are expected to be engaged in learning during the morning sessions as well as the afternoon. Each teacher will provide direction to students about whether they need to attend online during a particular morning. If students are not engaged in an online activity, they are expected to be using that time for asynchronous learning.
    • Please explain how school will work on Wednesdays.
      • Elementary: Students will check in for their morning meetings and go over directions for the day. Specific schedules for students to follow will be provided in Schoology
      • Middle and High: Schools will identify a period that will meet on Wednesdays. After teachers take attendance, students will participate in activities that may include, among others: social emotional learning, Choose Love, PBIS, leadership activities, counselor-led activities. Schools will communicate with students about Wednesday expectations.
    • How does the completion of classwork happen with shortened class times?
      • Each teacher will instruct students as to how and when classwork should be completed and turned in.

     Curriculum: Courses, Electives, Grading, Accomodations

    • Will elementary students continue to receive instruction from science specialists, music teachers, librarians, etc.?
      • Yes. Science specialists will provide all science instruction to elementary students. Music and library time is scheduled during the week, as well. Teachers will provide specific schedule information.
    • How will tests be taken?
      • Tests will be taken on our digital platforms. A variety of assessments can be administered online including authentic assessment, portfolios, student presentations, etc..
    • Will grading be based on completion or accuracy?
      • Grading system will be traditional, including standards-based mastery, points and participation-based, etc..
    • Are music and choir classes at the middle and high school levels still an option? Will art classes continue to be offered? Will there be electives?
      • Electives are still being offered.
    • How will courses that involve labs, such as Chemistry, be taught? Will a student need to purchase lab equipment?
      • Equipment will not need to be purchased by families. Classes such as these will use video, simulation, demonstration, and observation to achieve understanding.
    • How will the distance high school schedule meet the demands of rigorous Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses?
      • Our teachers are trained by both AP and IB to provide rigorous content to our students, regardless of the format. While the amount of in-person time may be less, teachers will make use of Schoology to provide additional learning. 
    • Will courses be accepted by the UC and CSU systems?
      • Yes, our courses that are UC/CSU approved will continue to be accepted.

    Attendance

    • How and when will attendance be taken?
      • Teachers will take attendance by visually seeing each student in class online during the video conference, and will record the attendance as usual in PowerSchool. 
      • Elementary: During morning meetings each day
      • Middle and High: During each period that meets in the afternoon synchronous sessions.
      • Wednesdays: For elementary schools, students will have attendance taken during their Wednesday morning meetings. For middle and high schools, attendance will be taken during the mandatory time each school has determined as the Wednesday session.
    • How will parents be notified if their child misses a class?
      • Our absence notification procedures remain the same. Parents will be notified of unexcused absences through a daily attendance call.

    Special Education

    • Will Special Day Classes receive priority for returning to in-person learning?
      • Special day classes are a high priority to return to in-person learning when we are able to do so.
    • How will Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) be affected?
      • IEP goals will remain in place. We have spent the summer refining ways to make virtual learning more meaningful and interactive for students who have IEPs. 
    • How will speech services work during distance learning?
      • Speech and Language Pathologists will be working with students through a teletherapy format combined with specific extension activities for students to work on outside of that therapy session.
    • When will IEP meetings be scheduled to review existing IEPs?
      • IEP meetings will be held according to regular timelines. If you have any questions, please contact your child’s case manager.

    Enrollment

    • If someone prefers Independent Study for their child instead of LVJUSD's Distance Learning program this fall, what is the process for enrolling and returning?
      • Students who choose to enroll in our Independent Study program would enroll at Vineyard Alternative School. Parents would begin the enrollment process by completing the online intradistrict transfer form to initiate a transfer request to attend Vineyard. See Intradistrict Transfers on our website.
        If a student enrolls at Vineyard Alternative School for Independent Study and wants to return to their home school, they would complete the intradistrict transfer process (as described above) and be placed at their home school (provided there is space). If the home school were full, the student could transfer to another school with openings in our district.
    • If someone prefers to homeschool their child instead of LVJUSD's Distance Learning program, what is the process for enrolling and returning to LVJUSD?
      • Our district does not sponsor homeschool programs. Families can find general homeschool program information on the CDE website.
        If a student transferred out of our district to attend a home school program, the student would be welcomed back to our district by enrolling as a new student. Information for new student enrollment is in the Student Services section of our website, Enrollment & Transfers.
    • Is the original placement / school guaranteed or held for the student who exits for either Independent Study or homeschool?
      • Space availability at schools fluctuates as people move in and out of neighborhoods. We are unable to hold spots for students, nor can we guarantee that space will be available in the student's school of choice at the time the student re-enrolls. We will do our best to keep students at their resident school.

    Other

    • How many students are in each class?
      • Class sizes remain the same as our traditional classrooms. Upon the transition into hybrid learning, each class will be divided into smaller cohorts to accommodate social distancing and health and safety protocols.
    • When will counselors be available to discuss college planning?
      • Middle and high school counselors will continue to meet with students, as they have in the past, conducting those meetings online. In addition, they will set up opportunities to meet with students during student-directed learning times. Additional information will be sent from your school.