2020-21 Return Plan: FAQs

2020-21 Return to School Plan: Frequently Asked Questions for Families

The 2020-21 school year at Menlo Park Academy will begin with an all-virtual learning model through Trimester 1. Students will begin the year with a staggered start, commencing on August 25 in one of two modality options: a Virtual Learning Program, with the option of participating in the Menlo Learning Lab for families needing in-person and on-site supports for their student.

To help families understand how virtual learning will function, how to best prepare for the start of the school year, and what they can expect, Menlo Park Academy administrators have put together answers to some commonly-asked questions.

General Questions

Q: What activities will be planned for social interactions, either virtually or social distanced?
A: Planning for social interactions will be ongoing.

Q: Will students have access to books, textbooks and other materials besides technology?
A: Yes, students will have access to other materials that are needed for learning.

Q: Will all students have encore classes (art, PE, music and foreign language)?
A: Yes, encore classes are still available for everyone.

Q: Will parental feedback/input be both sought and taken into account regularly throughout the year?
A: Yes, we value our parents’ feedback. Please watch ParentSquare for continued opportunities for input and feedback.

Q: What support will students with special education plans have?
A: 504s and IEPs will be evaluated on an individual basis. Intervention specialists will continue to meet IEP intervention requirements and teachers will implement 504 accommodations as appropriate in the VLP online.

Q: If I decide to homeschool but want to come back to MPA next year, what do I do?
A: You will need to complete paperwork to withdraw your student from Menlo and officially enroll them as a homeschool student with the State of Ohio. When you decide to return to Menlo, you need to complete enrollment paperwork for your student. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that there will be a seat available at any given time.

Q: How will assessments be done for proper ability placements?
A: We are using MAP assessment data along with other performance and related information we currently have to place students into their initial instructional groups. We plan to administer MAP and other assessments at the start of this school year and will make adjustments as needed.

Q: Will there be opportunities to move to a more advanced group of learners during this trimester, if need be?A: Yes, student groupings will be ability based and adjusted as needed.

Q: Will there be virtual field trips planned?
A: Yes, the enhanced learning team has been looking into various virtual field trip options.

Q: Will there be any kind of orientation for new Menlo families?
A: Yes, there will be a new family orientation. Details will be forthcoming. 

Q: Will high school classes still be offered? 
A: Yes, classes for high school credit will still be available, with the same course offerings as before.

Student Technology

Q: Will returning students use the same technology devices (such as a Chromebook or 2-in-1 tablet) that they received last year?
A: Yes, students will continue to use the same Chromebook or tablet as last year.

Q: How can returning students get a technology device if they don’t already have one?
A: Technology devices and other materials will be distributed before the first day of class.

Q: How will new students receive their technology devices from the school?
A: New students at Menlo Park who do not have a Chromebook or tablet will receive information about technology and device information this week.

Q: What should I do if I have any issues with the technology devices that the school provided?
A: If you are experiencing hardware of software issues with your device, contact Barbee Thomas, Systems Director, for support.

Q: Can students use personal devices or should they use Menlo’s?
A: The school prefers that students use their school-issued device, such as a Chromebook or 2-in-1 tablet, so we can remotely push out necessary updates or troubleshoot any potential problems. We aren’t able to provide support or updates for personal devices.

Q: Where can we find a teacher’s email address? 
A: Teacher contact information will be available within ParentSquare and PowerSchool, a new student information system that replaces the use of NetClassroom.

Virtual Learning Program

Q: What is Virtual Learning?
A: Virtual learning refers to the learning experience that students will receive using computers and the internet. For the first trimester of the 2020-21 school year, all learners will receive education via the Virtual Learning Program (VLP).

Q: Will Virtual Learning be offered the entire year?
A: Yes, the Virtual Learning Plan will be offered as an option for the entirety of the 2020-21 school year. We will continue to evaluate conditions and may also offer the in-building learning modality.

Q: Is Menlo using its own curriculum or a virtual school platform?
A: The curriculum is developed by Menlo teachers, and organized and shared through the Google Classroom platform.

Q: What will a schedule on a typical day look like?
A: Students will follow their class schedules and attend each class. Teachers are expected to deliver synchronous and asynchronous lessons on a reliable and consistent basis. A given class could have a live or recorded session in which student participation is needed. Although it will look a little different for each grade level, teachers will prepare lessons that engage students in 30 mins of learning per subject, per day. There will be a focus on student mastery of learning through deeper project-based engagement. Students can expect a movement away from worksheets and more effective virtual teaching strategies to engage students.

Q: What are the attendance expectations for Virtual Learning Program students?
A: Virtual learners will be expected to check in to the morning meeting and all classes as scheduled. Virtual learners will follow the “72 hour rule” set forth in Ohio Revised Code §3314.03(A)(6)(b) “for automatically withdrawing a student from the school if the student without a legitimate excuse fails to participate in seventy-two consecutive hours of the learning opportunities offered to the student.”

Q: Will virtual learners follow regular school hours?
A: Yes, students will have a regular schedule with a combination of synchronous (real-time) livestream sessions for instruction, and some flexibility for asynchronous (pre-recorded instruction or assigned tasks) sessions.

Q: How many hours is a student expected to be on their computer?
A: This will vary based on grade level. Students will be expected to check-in each morning for Morning Meeting/Advisory, and then check-in throughout the day for their courses. The sessions will vary in length and should last about 15-20 minutes in length. There will then be work to be completed for the particular course, which may be on the computer or not, depending on the course and the grade-level.

Q: What is the format or platform being used for VL?
A: Students will use Google Classroom, including Google Meet and other applications in the Google Suite.

Q: How will the teacher and individual student communication happen?
A: Teachers will have regularly scheduled office hours. Students can also email teachers with questions or concerns.

Q: How will the teacher and individual parent communication happen?
A: Teachers will have regularly scheduled office hours. Parents can also email teachers with questions or concerns.

Q: Are teachers receiving additional training on teaching in a virtual environment?
A: Yes, our faculty are receiving training during their personal development sessions on best practices for virtual learning.

Q: Will students log in to classes every day?
A: Yes, students need to be logged in for attendance at the beginning of the day, during advisory/morning meetings, scheduled teacher check-ins, at the beginning of subsequent periods/encores, and end-of-day wrap-up

Q: What is synchronous learning? Will it be recorded for later viewing and how much learning is done this way?
A: Synchronous learning is a real-time event that takes place where the entire class is engaged in learning (for example, a livestream of a lesson presentation).

Q: What is asynchronous learning and how much learning is done this way?
A: Asynchronous learning describes learning in which students learn the same material independently (for example, prerecorded instruction or assignments).

Q: Will students have a consistent schedule with online learning?
A: Yes, students will have a regular schedule during school days.

Q: Are teachers teaching from their homes or the school building?
A: Both. While the teachers are able to teach from home, you will also see lessons taught using the space and resources within the Menlo building.

Menlo Learning Lab

Q: What is the Menlo Learning Lab?
A: The Menlo Learning Lab (MLL) is a program that enables Menlo students to participate in our Virtual Learning Program (VLP) from the school building. Designated learning coaches will guide students during the day and assist them during their participation in the VLP. They will also facilitate scheduled breaks, lunch, and recess.

Q: What is the daily schedule and school hours for students participating in the Menlo Learning Lab?
A: Students will have regular school hours (8:15 a.m.-3:30 p.m.), with a combination of synchronous (real-time) livestream sessions for instruction, and some flexibility for asynchronous (pre-recorded instruction or assigned tasks) sessions.

Menlo Learning Lab students can also enroll in the Edison Club for before-school and after-school care.

Q: How often can students participating in the MLL attend each week?
A: The MLL is available five days per week during regular school hours (8:15 a.m.-3:30 p.m.). Our before and after-care program, Edison Club, will be available starting at 7 a.m. before the school day begins, and until 6 p.m. after the school day ends. 

Q: Can any Menlo student sign up to use the MLL?
A: Currently the MLL is an option for any students who were signed up for in-building learning. Children who benefit from the support of special services, have families whose work doesn’t allow them to provide in-home support and have a lack of alternative childcare options, and those who need in-person social opportunities will benefit most from this option.

Q: Can my student attend the MLL on certain days of the week, or partial days?
A: The MLL is intended as a school-day option that will be available during regular school hours and on days the school building is open to students (see 2school calendar). We are asking families who select the MLL option to commit to this intent for Trimester 1 Monday-Friday (for planning and staffing purposes), but families can request a Change of Modality form to change modalities any time. We will continue to evaluate options for scheduling flexibility as the program evolves.

Q: Can families enroll in the MLL after the beginning of Trimester 1?
A: You can complete a Change of Modality form, select Menlo Learning Lab as your modality option and submit it online. The availability may vary based on the number of participants in the MLL.

Q: Would my student be able to switch modalities between the Virtual Learning Program and Menlo Learning Lab?
A: Yes, you would need to request and complete a Change of Modality form and submit it online.

Q: Who oversees the day-to-day operation of the Menlo Learning Lab?
A: Oversight of the MLL is provided by the school director and administrative staff.

Q: Who are the learning coaches that will provide on-site support for Menlo Learning Lab students?
A: The MLL Learning Coaches are qualified educational paraprofessionals that will provide on-site support and guidance for students during the school day.

Q: What is the role of the Learning Coaches?
A: Learning coaches will guide students during the day and assist them during their participation in the VLP. They will also facilitate scheduled breaks, lunch, and recess.

Q: How much guidance will Learning Coaches give?
A: The teachers will be providing instruction via the VLP and in-building enhancement activities. The learning coaches will help the students stay on task with the VLP, provide support and assistance with enrichment activities, troubleshoot IT problems, and provide time for “brain breaks” and socialization.

Q: Will the Learning Coaches be the same every day?
A: We will have a core team of consistent learning coaches. Teachers will also be in the building at times so the MLL students will be working through lessons with them at times as well.

Q: What will the teacher-student ratio be in the MLL class?
A: Our teacher-student ratios will be considered as students are placed in learning groups. Ratios for the MLL will be finalized and communicated once we have information on the number and grades of participating students.

Q: Are students in mixed-aged groups for MLL (for example, a kindergartner could be in a group with middle schoolers)?
A: We will make an effort to group students participating in the MLL with other students of similar grade level, depending on enrollment.

Q: How will parents be informed of their student’s behavior or attentiveness during MLL?
A: Just as during the school year, parents are welcomed to discuss any concerns with the learning coaches via an in-person meeting or via ParentSquare message.

Q: Is there an additional cost to participate in the MLL?
A: No, there is no additional cost for a student to participate in the Menlo Learning Lab.

Q: How does the MLL work for students with IEP or 504 plans?
A: Special education plans, 504s and IEPs will be evaluated on an individual basis. Intervention specialists will continue to meet IEP intervention requirements and teachers will implement 504 accommodations as appropriate.

Q: Will students have breaks outdoors and do they wear masks outdoors?
A: Yes, MLL students will be provided breaks outdoors (weather permitting). We are making several additions to our outdoor space to enhance recess and outdoor learning. According to state guidelines, mask breaks can occur if the student is actively engaged in an outdoor activity AND is maintaining at least 6 feet distance from others.

Edison Club

Q: Will the hours and days remain the same for the Edison Club?
A: Yes, the Edison Club is still available for on-site before-school (7-7:45 a.m.) and after-school (3:30-6:00 p.m.) care for students. Information is available on the Menlo Park Academy website.

Q: How do I sign up for Edison Club?
A: You can complete a registration form for the Edison Club either on the Menlo Park Academy website or via Google Forms.

Q: What are the fees for Edison Club?
A: There is an annual $25 registration fee of per family to enroll in the Edison Club; the cost of the club for morning care is $3 per student per day, with an afternoon cost of either $5 per student per day (pick-up before 4:45 p.m.) or $10 per student per day (pick-up between 4:45-6 p.m.). There is a 10% discount for families who enroll two or more students.

Q: How do I pay my fees for Edison Club?
A: Parents will receive an emailed billing statement for Edison fees.

Q: What will students be doing in Edison Club?
A: The morning Edison club includes quiet activities and games. The afternoon Edison club includes a provided snack, homework time, structured activities and free play.

Dress Code

Q: Has the dress code been adjusted to allow for more comfortable clothing for virtual learners?
A: Yes, the student dress code for 2020-21 includes an option to wear attire that is typically worn for P.E. every day of the week.

Q: What is the dress code for Menlo Lab Learners?
A: The dress code for MLL students remains nearly the same, with the option to wear attire that is typically worn for P.E. every day of the week.


Q: How do parents sign up for busing?
A: Select school districts offer busing to Menlo Park Academy. Currently there are four districts (Cleveland Metro School District, Berea City Schools, Parma City School District and Westlake City School District) that provide busing to MPA. Check with your local district for details and bus schedules. Contact Barbee Thomas, Systems Director, with busing questions.

Q: What is the drop-off/pick-up routine? Will there be a car line similar to previous years? A: We will begin the year with regular car line procedures, with the addition of temperature checks before students exit their vehicles. Additional signage will promote spacing and unidirectional flow of foot traffic.

Students that ride busses will be directed in a similar fashion with distancing, temperature checks and unidirectional flow to and from the bus.