Letter to CoaH Families – April 7, 2020

Dear CoaH Families:

I am writing to provide an update on City on a Hill’s response to the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). As a reminder, all of our previous messages are archived here.

We know that there continues to be many questions that you may have about how we are preparing as a community. The Senior Leadership Team has extended our FAQ to help address your questions:

I couldn’t come during the Boston chromebook pick-up window. What are my options now?

Chromebooks have been loaned to approximately 160 students in three pick-up windows on Monday-Tuesday, March 30-31, and Thursday, April 2.

We will be offering the last and final day of pickup on Monday, April 13 from 58 Circuit Street. If you need a chromebook, please email covid19@cityonahill.org as soon as possible.

In accordance with Governor Baker’s stay-at-home advisory and the CDC’s recommendations for coronavirus prevention, Monday, April 13 will be the last and final day to pick up a chromebook. 

When do packets need to be completed and how do I return them?

Packets were due last Friday, April 3. 

Rather than mail each completed grade level packet, we ask that students scan and email them to their teachers. The email addresses of our teachers were included on the cover page of each section of the grade level packet (e.g., English, math, history, etc.). 

There are several free scanning resources available for iPhone and Android smartphones students can take advantage of.

Packets can be downloaded from the CoaH website and completed with your borrowed chromebook or your internet enabled device at home.

What is City on a Hill’s distance learning plan? What should my child be working on once packets have been submitted?

We are happy to announce that we have come to an agreement with our unions on the implementation of virtual learning, which kicked off on Monday, April 6, 2020. Our hope is that every student will engage virtually with at least one teacher, counselor, dean or principal each week. By today, you should have heard from your teachers regarding expectations and assignments. If you have not heard from your teachers yet, please reach out to your advisor to ensure you are able to stay on track with your assignments. Students are expected to fulfil the expectations for completing work assignments outlined by their teachers and to submit back their work for feedback and grading. 

During this period of school closure, CoaH will be providing students with remote learning opportunities, which may include written materials, telephone calls, video conferencing, pre-recorded lessons, and other online services. If possible, students are expected to participate in these services. Please reach out to us as soon as possible if you anticipate or become aware of any issues with your child accessing the remote opportunities that we are providing.

What if my student needs help with a lesson or assignment? 

Teachers will be holding virtual “office hours” each “school day.” If you would like to speak with your teachers or go over work, please sign up for time during their office hours. 

If you have questions for your teachers, please do not hesitate to reach out. Email is a great way to communicate with your teachers. In general, you can expect to hear back from your teachers within 1-2 “school days.” 

My student is a member of the Learning Network. What will virtual learning look like for my student? 

Members of our Learning Network team will be following federal and state guidance around the implementation of IEPs/504s and ELL services. Our plan is to work with each student to implement their plan as best as possible given current restrictions around social distancing. Implementation will be tailored to each student’s specific IEP/504/ELL requirements and could take the form of, among other things, modified assignments, small group learning, individual learning, or the provision of related services through a virtual model. 

Special education teachers, ELL/ SEI teachers, and individual service providers will be in contact with parents/guardians of students with specialized learning needs regarding necessary modifications to the remote instruction opportunities offered to other members of an individual student’s class, as well as to discuss direct and group service provision.

If you have specific questions or concerns about your student, please reach out to Allison King, Director of Specialized Services at aking@cityonahill.org or 617-533-9414.

I am concerned about Zoom. What steps are you taking to keep Zoom safe? 

We are primarily using Google classrooms as a medium for our virtual learning. However, we will also supplement with virtual meetings for students and teachers on Zoom. We are asking all meeting hosts to follow security protocols from the FBI to help keep Zoom meetings safe. This includes, but is not limited to, using precautions like the waiting room function to control who accesses meetings and locking the meeting following confirmation of student attendance. Please immediately alert your teacher or an administrator if you observe any inappropriate materials during a school Zoom meeting. 

I am concerned about MCAS, grades, graduation, promotion, etc. when will you be making decisions about these questions? 

We are still receiving guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) on how best to address each of these areas of concern. We are also researching how other districts, both inside and outside of Massachusetts, are thinking through these issues. Finally, we are collecting input from teachers and staff on how we can approach these decisions equitably given currently understood restrictions on operating school. We will have an update on decisions surrounding these issues in the coming weeks.  

An Important Note About Privacy, School Rules, and Behavior Expectations, During Virtual Learning

In accordance with state and federal laws, including the Massachusetts Wiretapping Act and FERPA, parents/guardians and students must refrain from recording any and all remote lessons.

Exceptions may be made on an individual basis due to special circumstances, and only with the consent of everyone involved in the lesson. In addition, while parents/ guardians are permitted to observe online instruction in a non-disruptive manner, to the extent that remote learning opportunities provide access to confidential student information, all participants agree, by participating in this remote learning opportunity, to refrain from disseminating any confidential student information about other student participants with any and all third parties. By participating in the remote learning opportunities, consent to this request is hereby provided.

Similarly, we ask everyone in our school community to recognize that video conferences and other online services will be taking place in the homes of the educators and students who participate in the calls, and to be mindful of everyone’s right to privacy. To that end, we remind our students to dress appropriately and choose an appropriate location in their home from which to participate in any and all remote learning opportunities, particularly those with a video component. Parents/ guardians should take all precautions to safeguard personal or private information that they do not wish to be disclosed.

Students will be expected to behave in accordance with school rules of conduct while participating in remote instruction. Cyber-bullying, harassment, discrimination, and abuse of the remote learning process will not be tolerated and may result in suspension from remote learning, as well as additional consequences when school resumes. CoaH also encourages its staff  and students alike to limit disruptions to remote lessons to the extent feasible (while also recognizing that sometimes pets, small children, and technical difficulties cannot be prevented from disrupting a lesson that happens at home).

By accessing virtual learning services, City on a Hill Charter Public School recognizes that you and your child consent to access online instruction and agree to fully comply with the requirements of this notice.

As always, please know that we remain committed to supporting you to the greatest extent possible during this time. We understand that launching into remote learning is new for students, families, teachers, and staff. We continue to welcome your feedback on how this process is working or not working for you and your family. This feedback will help us all become better at learning to operate in this new environment. 

Thank you once again for your help to keep our community healthy and safe. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email covid19@cityonahill.org.


Jackie Hayes

Chief of Staff

To read our most up to date information, please visit the Our Response to COVID-19 page.

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