2020-21 Return Plan: FAQs

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

Beginning in January 2021, Menlo Park Academy families have the option to choose between  two modality choices: an In-Person Learning modality (IPL), with students attending classes on campus, or continue with the Virtual Learning Program (VLP), with students attending classes online remotely via a technology device. In-person learning has been gradually phased in starting Jan. 5 with in-person students acclimating to physically being with their teachers and moving around the building.

To help families understand how in-person and virtual learning will function, and what they can expect during the second trimester (which concludes March 4), Menlo Park Academy administrators have answered some commonly-asked questions. These questions have been updated in January.

General Questions

Q: Why is the school offering both in-person and virtual learning options?
A: MPA recognizes that the needs of students and families may differ from one household to another, and that one learning model may not work for every student. School leaders believe that flexibility is important to the school community during this challenging time.

Q: How will teachers attend to the needs of both students in-person and virtually at the same time?
A: Our teachers have spent time using this method already by integrating students participating in the Menlo Learning Lab into their virtual classes. They have had the opportunity to work through various scenarios and develop teaching strategies that work well for both learning modalities.

Q: What is co-teaching?
A: Generally, teacher teaming means that two or three teachers will work together to have students become familiar with both teachers. The benefit is that, should the need arise, a student would have consistent instruction regardless of changes in modality for students or staff.

Q: What does co-teaching look like?
A: Co-teaching can look different depending on the grade level and content, but could be one or more of the following:

  • Two teachers and two groups of students joining for morning advisory
  • Teachers jointly planning a lesson or activity in a particular subject, and each teacher implementing with each of their groups
  • Joining both teachers’ groups for a special program or project
  • Groups joining for breaks or outdoor play

By purposely having two or more teachers play a role in the delivery of the school’s educational program to two or more learning groups, we hope to support consistency and continuity for both staff and students, given the logistical challenges that the pandemic has created this year.

Q: What happens if my child’s teacher is unable to teach in-person/virtually for a period of time?
A: We have begun a process of partnering teachers where possible to provide flexibility in the event that one of our MPA teachers is not able to teach in person and/or virtually. By doing so, students will have regular, ongoing learning activities that involve the partner teacher, or even both teachers simultaneously at times. While each teacher and subject/content situation is different and will be handled on an individual basis, we believe that these partnerships amongst our MPA teaching staff will provide our learners with the least amount of disruption and best instructional experience possible.

For example, Teacher A and Teacher B are partners. Teacher A must quarantine for 10 days. Teacher A’s five in-person students will join Teacher B’s four in-person students for a short period of time. Teacher A will continue to teach their virtual students from home and may also integrate a few of teacher B’s students virtual students into their lessons some of the time.

Q: Does co-teaching affect current student groupings?
A: We are aiming for as little disruption as possible for student groupings, but the specifics will depend on the number of students within each modality. The school will try to keep students within a teacher team containing at least one teacher with whom they are already familiar. We also believe that by implementing co-teaching where possible, students (for K-4) will have additional support and interaction, which should benefit them during this challenging time.

Q: Will all courses and levels make use of co-teaching?
A: Not necessarily. Co-teaching will be implemented where possible for K-4. Grades 5-8 will be in a concurrent model, which means teachers will provide instruction to in-person and virtual learners concurrently within a class. We feel that this mode of instruction can be accomplished for grade 7-8 students given their level of autonomy and executive functioning.

Q: What about co-teaching for Encore classes?
A: There are certain encore teachers in which there is not a counterpart. In instances such as these, the school will look to adjust groupings based on modality as needed.

Q: What if my child’s teacher does not have a partner?
A: Some classes may not have a partner teacher. For example, the high school geometry course only has one available teacher, so concurrent teaching is the only option to provide instruction to students. Should the need arise, MPA will strive to work through specific needs as they arise. 

Q: Will there be schedule changes with the addition of in-person learning?
A: There may be some inherent schedule changes. The school aims to keep schedules as similar as possible with some minor shifts.

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: Will students have access to books, textbooks and other materials besides technology?
A: Yes, students will have access to other materials needed for learning. There were curriculum materials distributed in October and early January. If you have not picked up your child’s materials, please contact the school to arrange a pickup time.

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 and will seek their input throughout the year to inform our decisions. Please watch ParentSquare for continued opportunities for input and feedback.

Q: How will assessments be done for proper ability placements?
A: We use 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 virtual field trips planned?
A: Yes, the enhanced learning team has made arrangements for various virtual field trip options.

 Q: Are high school classes still offered?
A: Yes, classes for high school credit are 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. 

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.

Q: Is MPA 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: My children have done well adjusting to virtual learning. Will their virtual instruction now change?
A: We recognize that the majority of our MPA families want to continue with virtual learning at this time. We  acknowledge the amount of time and effort that has gone into developing routines and expectations at home. In some instances, our faculty may be teaching some classrooms concurrently to both in-person and virtual students, which has already taken place periodically throughout the year. As we continue with in-person learning, our goal is to move toward co-teaching in grades K-4. The school is committed to offering virtual learning for the entirety of the school year.

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: Can families switch to the Virtual Learning Program?
A: Yes, the school aims to be as flexible as possible with modality choices during the pandemic. To request moving from virtual learning to in-person learning, or vice versa, you can submit a Change of Modality Form online or from the homepage of the MPA website

The school is asking parents to provide as much notice as possible for these requests. Once your form is submitted, someone from the school will review it and contact you to confirm when the transition can begin.

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 has received training during their personal development sessions on best practices for virtual learning.

Q: Will VLP 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). Synchronous sessions are usually recorded by MPA teachers.

Q: What is asynchronous learning?
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: A majority of teachers will teach from within the building, with some teaching remotely.

In-Person Learning Program

Q: What is the daily schedule and school hours for students participating on campus?
A: Students will have regular school hours (8:15 a.m.-3:30 p.m.), with a schedule that will closely resemble a traditional school day.

In-Person students can also enroll in the Edison Club for before-school and after-school care.

Q: How often can students participating in in-person learning attend each week?
A: We are asking families to plan to attend 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 my student attend classes in-person on certain days of the week, or partial days?
A: In-person learning is intended as a school-day option that will be available during regular school hours when the school building is open (see the school calendar). In order to ensure both learning programs can be implemented with fidelity, we ask families to commit to either the fully in-person or the fully virtual modality for the remainder of the trimester.

Families can request to change learning modalities if your circumstances should change. It remains the school’s intent to continue offering fully in-person and fully-virtual learning programs as the year continues. To request moving from virtual learning to in-person learning, or vice versa, you can submit a Change of Modality Form online or from the homepage of the MPA website

The school is asking parents to provide as much notice as possible for these requests. Once your form is submitted, someone from the school will review it and contact you to confirm when the transition can begin.

Q: Can families enroll in In-Person Learning after January 5?
A: Yes. Families can request to change learning modalities if your circumstances should change. It remains the school’s intent to continue offering fully in-person and fully-virtual learning programs as the year continues. To request moving from virtual learning to in-person learning, or vice versa, you can submit a Change of Modality Form online or from the homepage of the MPA website

The school is asking parents to provide as much notice as possible for these requests. Once your form is submitted, someone from the school will review it and contact you to confirm when the transition can begin.

Q: Who can sign up for in-person learning?
A: In-person learning is an option for any students enrolled at Menlo Park Academy. 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, those who need in-person social opportunities, or students who perform better in a classroom environment will benefit most from this option.

Q: What if I choose in-person and my child becomes symptomatic, ill, or needs to quarantine?
A: Students learning in-person will be able to transition to virtual learning if they display symptoms consistent with COVID-19, test positive, or need to quarantine because they had close-contact exposure with a person who tested positive.

A student who needs to quarantine or isolate can request a temporary modality change by submitting a Change of Modality Form online or from the homepage of the MPA website.

Q: Why do I have to commit to a particular setting for the trimester?
A: Knowing the number of students in each learning modality helps the faculty to plan and deliver lessons to students, as well as planning for staffing needs.

Q: How many students will my child be with if I choose in-person learning?
A: While the number of students in the building has shifted during the first half of the year, the school expects that there would be about 160 students in the building for in-person learning beginning in January. The exact number of students in a particular classroom space can vary based on grade, but the building space has been set up for social distancing at 6 feet.

Q: How will the school implement in-person learning?
A: Initially, teachers will simultaneously teach students who are in-person at the same time as those who are virtual, which has already taken place periodically throughout the year. Some modifications for typical in-person learning will take place.

For example, instead of writing on a whiteboard for in-person students to see, a teacher would continue to use the document camera to display what they are writing so both the students in-person and virtual can use their device to view.

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. Please contact the front desk if you have any questions at 440-925-6365.

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: Regular car line procedures remain in place, with the addition of temperature checks before students exit their vehicles. Additional signage will promote spacing and unidirectional flow of foot traffic for students as they enter the building.

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