Distance Learning


This Distance Learning Plan is a dynamic document that describes how The Hillside School will approach instruction during an extended school closure.  Our goal is to provide distance learning for our students in the context that we continue to deliver our mission at the highest level.  


Transitioning to distance learning will take time, patience and flexibility from everyone in the Hillside community.  The students’ physical, mental and emotional well-being are high priorities.

A hybrid model of synchronous and asynchronous schooling has been adopted in order to offer students and families a balanced approach.   

Asynchronous:  Class interactions happen via online platform without real time interactions.  Students independently engage with digital and nondigital tools and materials to complete work at their own pace, typically within a given timeframe.  

Synchronous:  Class interactions happen in real time at the same time and facilitate a sense of community.  Students virtually attend class together via video conference, livestream or chat.

Faculty accept a high level of autonomy and responsibility with a high level of support from administration.   This approach allows for the continuation of what students already know how to do.

The needs of the students in a class and the strengths of their teacher(s) will determine the instructional practices.  

Instructional content will be based on what is essential for students to know and do.


The Hillside School understands that frequent communication is a key component of a successful distance learning plan.  When the endpoint is unclear with continuously changing conditions, a flexible approach with the ability to adjust and alter plans is necessary.  

STAFF:  Hillside staff members will largely communicate through email to our constituent groups.  The Connect 5 system will be used in emergent situations.  

FACULTY:  Teachers and specialists will communicate with families in a variety of ways:  emails, phone calls, Veracross posts, online platforms, teleconferencing and video recordings.  Teachers will offer daily office hours.

PARENTS:  Parents are encouraged to communicate through email with their child’s teacher.  There is also an option of leaving a phone message at the school.  Office staff will check and route the messages daily.



  • Create and distribute Hillside’s Distance Learning Plan
  • Maintain communication within the school community
  • Support faculty, students and families during this time of distance learning
  • Trust the professionalism of teachers and help them to implement the Distance Learning Plan
  • Communicate with families any disruptions to the plan, including teacher unavailability
  • Establish what families can expect of The Hillside School*


  • Design engaging instruction using a variety of digital (including video recordings and teleconferencing) and non-digital tools per the Guidelines 
  • Provide opportunities for student-to-teacher and student-to-student connections
  • Maintain a growth mindset
  • Enforce expectations for student appropriateness within the distance learning structure
  • Move forward with differentiated instruction; start with something successful and build from there
  • Establish daily office hours
  • Provide feedback to students on assignments including their use of strategies and executive skills
  • Develop a consistent schedule for posting assignments, providing student feedback, using live or recorded instruction and communicating with students and their families
  • Check in weekly with administration as to how you are translating in-person instruction to distance learning


  • Provide technology support to faculty, staff, students and families
  • Assist faculty, staff, students and families with troubleshooting challenges as needed
  • Communicate best practices for use of various technology platforms
  • Vet new technologies for successful distance learning


  • Extend grace to yourself, your child and his/her teachers as everyone works to balance their many responsibilities
  • Be willing to be flexible and adapt to a rapidly changing environment
  • Establish routines and expectations to help your child get into “school mode”
  • To the extent possible, define the physical space for your child’s learning
  • Monitor communications from your child’s teachers**
  • Encourage brain breaks and physical activity and times for quiet and reflection
  • Be clear with your child about school and family expectations regarding online interactions and social media


  • Set yourself up for success and take charge of your learning
  • Identify a quiet space in your home where you can work productively
  • Regularly check online for assignments and feedback from teachers
  • Use your executive skills and learning strategies
  • Do your best to participate in instruction and complete your assignments
  • Self-advocate and communicate with your parents and teachers
  • Comply with Hillside’s expectations for technology and online behavior
  • Follow The Hillside School Pledge at home


The Hillside School Distance Learning Plan has been established to bridge the gap from an unexpected school closure to the reopening of school.  

Parents and guardians can expect:

  • Frequent communication from your child’s teacher(s)
  • Continued relationship between your child and his/her teacher(s)
  • Continued differentiated instruction
  • Variety of assignments and instruction from your child’s teacher(s) 
  • Prompt responses from the school leaders
  • Written and verbal support from the educational professionals at Hillside
  • Adherence to professional ethics

Faculty and staff can expect from parents and guardians:

  • Respect for their expertise as educational professionals
  • Communication which reflects open-mindedness
  • Agreement to observe the constraints of a teacher’s time and resources

Digital and nondigital learning materials will be disseminated by your child’s teachers and accessible to parents and guardians through:

  • Email
  • Flipgrid
  • Google Classroom
  • Google Drive (Docs, Forms, Slides)
  • Padlet
  • SMART Technologies
  • Veracross
  • YouTube channel (private)
  • Pick-up at The Hillside School
  • USPS


Students or parents/guardians are responsible for a minimum of 2 check-in’s a week with your child’s classroom teacher.   

Examples of a check-in include: 

  • Participation in a virtual class
  • Participation on a Google Doc
  • Submission of an assignment
  • Response to an email or phone call 

The Hillside School will operate according to the yearly school calendar.


Assessments in the context of remote instruction require careful consideration.   Hillside teachers will suspend traditional assessments and in most cases, grades will reflect those of the previous marking period.  Noticeable improvement and areas of need will be noted in a written, narrative format at the end of the current marking period.  Teachers may require students to show their understanding in a variety of ways including:  

  • Discussion based assessment through teleconferencing or recorded video
  • Project based learning with multiple checkpoints
  • Taking pictures or videos 


Teleconferencing is a way for students to meet with their teacher and classmates.  Even though they are not in The Hillside School building students are expected to follow behavior standards as follows: 

  • Be polite to everyone.  If you disagree with someone, you must still treat them with respect.
  • Do not interrupt others. 
  • Wait your turn.
  • Use the chat box to let the teacher know you have something to say or follow the directions that the teacher provides.
  • Listen to what is being said so that you can make thoughtful responses.
  • Teleconferencing is a way to share and learn; however, if you act inappropriately the teacher has the authority to mute your microphone or remove you from the meeting.