Remote Learning

Remote Learning Overview

The majority of HPS students started the school year remotely.  We have developed an improved distance learning  program for the fall that is designed to meet every student’s needs and includes:

  • A digital device for every individual student
  • Learning materials, such as math books, math manipulatives and composition notebooks for elementary students.
  • Live instruction
  • Virtual small group support
  • Internet access for more families, with the support of our city governments and private donors
  • A check-in with the same adult each week for one-on-one support

Students are learning five days a week from their homes with a combination of live (synchronous) full-class instruction and small group instruction, as well as independent (asynchronous) learning activities. Familes please take note of our Screens On policy (PDF) for remote learners.

Remote Learning Frequently Asked Questions

Will my child get a device and when?

All students will have a device.  Students in grades 3-12 will be issued a chromebook, with the exception of grades 6-8 students at Peck and Holyoke STEM who already have iPads as part of the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools (VILS) program.  View the Technology Distribution Schedule for each school and mark your calendar today for the date and time to pick up your child’s device!


Students in grades PreK-2 will be issued an iPad.  We have all the devices, with the exception of some of the iPads, which we expect to receive in mid-September, and then will image the devices with the appropriate software.

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How do we get Internet access?

Families can take advantage of the following through the Internet Essentials sponsorship program:

  • Free internet to the family (HPS and the city is sponsoring for the whole school year) – Please note that families are not eligible to participate in the program if they already have internet access through Comcast. Families who signed up for this program in the spring will have their service continued.
  • Low-Cost Computer. Customers can purchase a low-cost computer
  • Digital Literacy Training

Read more about this opportunity.

If you have any questions about this service, please call the hotline at 413-561-0862 (English) or 413-314-3560 (Spanish), visit our website to send an email by clicking on the following link:

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What will the remote learning model look like this year?

Types of Instruction


  • Live instruction (also known as synchronous) will include direct teacher instruction, student collaboration time, and independent work time while the teacher confers with individual students – just like would happen in a traditional classroom.  Self-paced learning (also known as asynchronous) will mostly take place in the afternoon, where students will primarily work independently, and teachers will be available to answer questions.  Students who receive additional services (e.g. language support, therapies, reading intervention, etc.) will have opportunities throughout the day to work with additional staff.
  • Students will have access to all content areas (mathematics, english language arts, science, social studies, arts/music, physical education, and social emotional learning).  Teachers and other staff will also be available to provide additional academic or social emotional support.

Please take a look at the adjusted school schedule to see what the remote learning day looks like. 

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What is the timing of the school day for remote learners?

Effective January 19th, the school day hours for in-person and remote learners were adjusted in order to support the implementation of the Hybrid Learning Model for the remainder of the school year (SY).

In the December 23rd Holyoke Update, we provided information about the newly adjusted school day (that started on January 19th) which is structured based on the uniqueness of the school, program, and grade. In response to formal and informal feedback from students, families and teachers – as well as updated DESE guidelines – we developed a structured day that allows students to be more engaged with their peers and teachers, offers small group instruction for additional support and includes time for necessary breaks and opportunities for asynchronous and synchronous (live instruction) learning time.  The original school schedule included synchronous learning from 8 AM – noon and asynchronous learning of up to 2.5 hours daily.  That school schedule provided students with 6.5 hours of learning daily.  The schedule change now offers students a 6 hour school day, with 4-5 hours of synchronous learning scheduled throughout the day including movement breaks, lunch breaks, recess (for younger grades), hand-washing breaks, transition, and cleaning time.

Wednesdays still follow the old schedule of no more than 3 hours of synchronous learning for grades K-8 and no more than 4 hours for grades 9-12. Synchronous learning on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays is as follows:

  • Grades K-2 is 4 hours daily,
  • Grades 3-8 is 5 hours daily,
  • Grades 9-12 is 4.5-5 hours daily

This change allows the district to:

  • Increase synchronous (live) instructional time to meet the needs of students and following updated DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) guidelines, and
  • Develop bussing schedules to safely transport students to and from school and maintain all safety protocols and appropriate distancing.
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What learning platforms will be used?

The district Google Classroom in all grades as the learning management systems (LMS).  Zoom is the video conferencing platform for live classes.

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What supports are available for remote learners?

  • Breakfast & lunch are available M-W-F, 12 pm- 2 pm. Tentative locations: Kelly, Morgan, Lawrence, Donahue, HHS North, and Sullivan.
  • Advisory groups and learning squads are small group support structures designed to support students’ mental health and academic needs.
  • Additional support from counselors, therapists, teachers will be available throughout the day.
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Where will the educators be during remote learning?

Many, but not all, educators will work from their classrooms, even when teaching remotely, in order to:

  • “normalize” being in school, so that students see their teachers in a classroom setting;
  • give teachers access to classroom resources, including Internet, materials, and equipment;
  • enable staff to meet in teams and collaborate with colleagues (with safety precautions).
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If students miss a day of remote learning due to medical reasons, would that be considered an absence?

Students are expected to attend class daily and throughout the full day.  If a student needs to miss a day for any reason, the parent/guardian should be in contact with the teacher to inform them of the situation and ask about making up missing work.  More information about taking attendance will be released before school starts.  Read more about attendance at HPS.

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How will grades be given and accessed in a remote environment?

Grades will be collected in SchoolBrains to generate student report cards.  The district is still determining if access will be set up for parents/guardians to access a web portal linked to SchoolBrains so that they can access grades- otherwise, report cards will be mailed out.  

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With full remote learning, will students still have opportunities to see their friends/classmates?

Schools may set up “The Scholar’s Lounge” for their school. This is a virtual socialization space staffed by a school-based staff member where students will interact with classmates and school-peers in their age group (grades may vary but based on developmental stage). This is a non-academic virtual session where students are able to socialize, connect, and support each other to stay connected while in remote learning.

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