Academic Options During COVID-19 Pandemic

academic options icon  

Page Contents:

Park Hill's Learning Options
In Person
Modes of In-Person Learning
Specifics About Split Mode for Sixth-12th Grades
Labor Day Schedule for Split Mode Sixth-12 Grades
Park Hill Online
Answers About Academic Options
New Answers About Academic Options


The first day of school for Park Hill students will now be Tuesday, September 8.

This change comes in response to recommendations from the Kansas City Health Department and the Platte County Health Department, based on high levels of COVID-19 in our area.

When school starts on Sept. 8, our in-person students will start the year in a split mode, with preschool through fifth grade at school in person and sixth through 12th grades on a hybrid schedule. We hope to move them to 100% in-person when the levels of COVID-19 in our community decrease, but we might need to move to full distance learning if levels increase.

We have more details below about what this will look like for each student.

Teachers will still report on their original assigned dates, and they will spend this additional time preparing for this new way of doing business. Support staff will hear from their supervisors about their start dates.

We are sending out messages to tuition preschool and Adventure Club families with more info about how this will affect those programs.

We outlined these changes in a presentation to the Board at the August 3 meeting.    

Here is the information we are presenting to the Board of Education at the August 13 meeting. 

This plan is likely to change as more information becomes available and as we continue to follow the latest guidance of public health officials. We will notify you when we update our plans.

Last update: August 11


Park Hill’s Learning Options:

academic options (text explanation below)

Here is a printable document with the highlights of our different learning options. 


We had 26.5% of our students sign up for Park Hill Online, and 73.5% of our students plan to attend school in person. 


In our elementaries, we had 27.8% of our students sign up for Park Hill Online and 72.2% plan to attend in person. In our middle schools, we had 28.6% of our students sign up for Park Hill Online and 71.4% plan to attend in person. Of our high school students, we had 21.3% sign up for Park Hill Online and 78.7% plan to attend in person. 

enrollment breakdown

Each building had students sign up for Park Hill Online:

  • Chinn - 31% online, 69% in person
  • English Landing - 31% online, 69% in person
  • Graden - 23% online, 77% in person
  • Hawthorn - 27% online, 73% in person
  • Hopewell - 33% online, 67% in person
  • Line Creek - 27% online, 73% in person
  • Prairie Point - 30% online, 70% in person
  • Renner - 29% online, 71% in person
  • Southeast - 31% online, 69% in person
  • Tiffany Ridge - 26% online, 74% in person
  • Union Chapel - 22% online, 78% in person
  • Congress - 27% online, 73% in person
  • Lakeview - 26% online, 74% in person
  • Plaza - 35% online, 65% in person
  • Walden - 26% online, 74% in person
  • LEAD - 24% online, 76% in person
  • PHHS - 22% online, 78% in person
  • South - 19% online, 81% in person

by building


In Person:

in-person learning  

Students who choose this option will return to their school in the fall, taking health and safety precautions. 

If we need to close down a classroom, a school or the entire district because of a COVID-19 outbreak, our in-person students and teachers might move together to a split mode or to a full distance learning mode to provide continuity.

Update about split mode:
We received a great deal of feedback from our families and staff that they wanted us to add this to the steps we might take in case of an increase in COVID-19.

Park Hill's split mode will look like this:

Preschool and elementary:

  • Monday through Friday: All students in person

Middle- and high-school students (hybrid):

  • Monday: A group in person (A through K - see below)
  • Tuesday: B group in person (L through Z - see below)
  • Wednesday: Everyone distance learning
  • Thursday: A group in person
  • Friday: B group in person

Students in sixth through 12th grades will be in the A group if the oldest student in their household has a last name that starts with A through K. Students will be in the B group if the oldest student in their household has a last name that starts with L through Z.



Depending on guidance from public health officials about the levels of COVID-19 in our area, we might move between these modes for our in-person students:

learning modes (text explanation above)


Specifics about split mode for sixth-12th grades:

split mode

Sixth-12th Hybrid by Group

A Group (A through K):

  • Monday: In person
  • Tuesday: Distance learning
  • Wednesday: Distance learning
  • Thursday: In person
  • Friday: Distance learning

B Group (L through Z): 

  • Monday: Distance learning
  • Tuesday: In person
  • Wednesday: Distance learning
  • Thursday: Distance learning
  • Friday: In person 

Students who are signed up for Adventure Club will not attend Adventure Club on the days they are at home doing distance learning. 


Labor day schedule for split mode sixth-12th grades:

Labor Day schedule

Labor Day Schedule

We will use this schedule for our sixth-12th graders when we are closed for Labor Day the week of September 7.

A Group (A through K):
  • Monday: Labor Day
  • Tuesday: Distance Learning
  • Wednesday: In person
  • Thursday: In person
  • Friday: Distance learning

B Group (L through Z)

  • Monday: Labor Day
  • Tuesday: In person
  • Wednesday: Distance learning 
  • Thursday: Distance learning
  • Friday: In person


 Park Hill Online:

Park Hill Online   Students who chose not to return in person will use our Park Hill Online option. 

This is an online-only option we are offering during the COVID-19 pandemic for students from across the Park Hill School District. This option will require the student’s parent or guardian to help facilitate their child's learning.

It will include some teacher facilitation and independent student work, with a combination of virtual one-on-one meetings, virtual group meetings, live class sessions and pre-recorded videos. These students will not be on campus during the school day for activities like celebrations.

Students who choose this option during the COVID-19 pandemic must commit to attend Park Hill Online for the entire semester. They will not be able to switch back to in-person learning until the next semester. 


distance learning
  Will distance learning for in-person students look like distance learning did this past spring?
We have been hard at work this summer to improve this plan based on the feedback we received from students, teachers and families, to make it better than the Distance Learning program we used when we shut down after spring break.

We would also use Distance Learning if we needed to shut down our in-person schools for a snow day (the state gives us this option for up to five snow days).
courses they want  

Will my child be able to get the Park Hill Online courses they want?
We will place elementary and middle school students in courses based on their grade levels, and we will enroll high school students in courses they need to graduate. However, because high-school course requests and teacher availability will vary during this COVID-19 pandemic, we will have limited options, so students might not get their preferred courses.


  • We will start with the courses that students requested when they enrolled earlier this year.
  • We will try to get students the courses they want, with Park Hill teachers teaching them our curriculum.
  • If we do not have enough students who want a course to make a full class or if we do not have a teacher, we will try to find the course for a student who wants it through an outside source with outside teachers.
  • If we cannot find the course for the student at all, we will contact the family to work through what other options we can offer to meet the student’s needs.
time and work from parents and students
  How much time and work will Park Hill Online require from students and their parents?
All students will need to complete daily assignments. Elementary students might need help from a family member to complete their work. Each student will need a different amount of time to do their daily coursework. 
students with special needs Park Hill Online
  May my child who has special needs sign up for Park Hill Online?
Feel free to sign your child up if you think this might be an option. If you sign up, your child’s case manager will work with you and the rest of the IEP team to determine whether Park Hill Online is the best fit for your child’s needs. We can provide some services online, but others might need to be in person.

May my child participate in high-school or middle-school sports, band or other MSHSAA activities if we select Park Hill Online?
Yes. The rules from the Missouri State High School Activities Association, or MSHSAA, say that our Park Hill Online students may participate in programs like sports, band and choir. Families must provide transportation for their children in these cases.

Please keep in mind that, while we will take all the safety precautions we can, we can’t always provide full physical distancing or ensure mask wearing with these activities. MSHSAA’s eligibility requirements will still apply, including attendance, a semester of enrollment, and making progress toward graduation.

Update August 3:
How will we handle sports and activities if we have to move to Distance Learning mode?

We will continue offering extra-curricular activities, including athletics and clubs, taking as many safety precautions as possible. 

We will follow guidelines from the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) as we receive them, and we will keep participants updated on their rules.

  • If we must close: 
    If COVID-19 increases in our area to the point that all our in-person students must go to full distance learning, MSHSAA says that sports and activities would stop during that time. We would also stop our elementary clubs if this happened.

  • Selected sports and activities:
    MSHSAA said they will not keep some sports and activities open when others get canceled.

    There is a campaign to get them to leave open activities that can be online-only, such as debate. We have expressed support for this idea.
clubs and parties
  Will my child attend clubs or class parties in elementary school?
Elementary students in Park Hill Online will be able to participate in before- or after-school clubs, with transportation as the family's responsibility, but they will not access celebrations during the school day, like class parties.
tests   Will students in Park Hill Online still take tests?
Yes, in addition to our Park Hill assessments, these students will also take state tests.
teachers   Will all Park Hill Online teachers be Park Hill teachers?
Depending on whether we have enough Park Hill teachers available to teach the Park Hill Online students, we might also contract with outside teachers. All the teachers will be certified and highly qualified. Even if your student does have a Park Hill teacher, they might not be from your student’s usual school.
students   Will my child be in virtual classes with students they know from school?
Students in Park Hill Online will come from across the school district.
tech they need
  Will my child have access to the technology they need?
We will issue a device to all Park Hill Online students. This will include iPads for students in kindergarten and first grade and laptops for students in grades two through 12. Students without internet access will receive hotspots.
progress reports   How will I know how my child is doing in their courses? 
Parents will receive weekly progress reports from teachers via email, and parents may schedule verbal communication and meetings with teachers as needed. We will have virtual parent-teacher conferences once each semester.  
grades   How will students earn grades for these courses?
Just as with in-person courses, Park Hill Online teachers will assess their students. Elementary students will receive quarterly grades, and middle- and high-school students will receive grades each semester. Teachers will record grades in Infinite Campus. High-school and middle-school students will see these grades reflected in their overall grade point average.
switch from online
  May we switch from in-person to Park Hill Online or from Park Hill Online to in-person partway through the semester? 
We must ask everyone to commit to their choice for the entire semester, so we can be sure we have enough teaching staff for both the in-person and online programs.
family help
  Will parents or guardians need to help students who attend Park Hill Online?
Yes, this option will require the student’s parent or guardian to help facilitate their child's learning. This will be a partnership with the teacher, who will provide guidance and instruction.
time requirement
  How much time will my student spend working on Park Hill Online?
Different students will take a different amount of time to complete their work, and the different classes will vary as well. Students do not need to stick to a certain schedule during the day, unless a schedule works better for them and their family. They will be able to access their classwork whenever it works best for them.
what teaching will look like
  What will the teaching look like in Park Hill Online?
Teachers will partner with parents to guide students along as they work through their learning.There will be some teacher facilitation and some independent student work, with a combination of virtual one-on-one meetings, virtual group meetings, live class sessions and pre-recorded videos.
distance learning
  Will Park Hill Online look like distance learning did in the spring?
What we did in the spring was an emergency plan, and we’ve put a great deal of effort into making Park Hill Online more in-depth.
students with special needs options
  What will Park Hill Online look like for students with special needs?
We will concentrate first on health and safety precautions as we work to change every IEP across the district. As soon as our teachers return back to work this fall, they will start with the IEPs for students whose families chose Park Hill Online. We will not be able to provide the same number of minutes of instruction to each student during this pandemic, as all the precautions we are taking will change schedules and routines. We will make changes to 504 plans if we need to in order to meet students’ needs.
  If a student chooses online courses, can they attend their Professional Studies internship? 
If a Park Hill Online student wants to participate in an internship, they must provide their own transportation. 
northland career center
  Will the Northland Career Center offer classes in person?
Yes. Park Hill Online students who attend NCC will need to provide their own transportation.
district preparations

How has the district prepared for the start of school?
We began preparing for this upcoming school year in April, continue to make changes with our Park Hill family's safety in mind, and will continue to plan and adapt as school begins and the pandemic changes. 

  • April-August
    We investigated all the ever-evolving guidance from public health officials and other experts across the state, country and world on how to keep our students and staff safe and healthy.

    We developed a framework based on the five pillars of protection: hand-washing, physical distancing, cleaning, stable groups and masks.

  • June-August
    Teachers came in this summer to develop content for each grade and course, and they put it all into our online learning tools. 

    This will save our teachers time when they teach Park Hill Online or distance learning, freeing them up to focus on teaching and connecting with kids.

  • July-August 
    Our principals are taking our health and safety framework and developing detailed plans for how they will apply them in their schools, with their different spaces and needs.

    Our principals are also planning and working to support our staff and their social-emotional learning during this difficult time.

  • August
    Now that we have our enrollment numbers, we can work on assigning staff to classes. We have several factors to balance in this work:
    • Consider teachers’ medical needs and preferences
    • Try to offer the courses students want
    • Try to keep teams and schools together
    • Try to keep class sizes to Park Hill’s standards
Park Hill Online

My child signed up for Park Hill Online. When can we expect more details about school reopening?
We will provide more details for Park Hill by Monday, August 10. This will include . . .

  • Guidance on expectations and daily schedules
  • Information about supplies
  • A date for when families will learn their children’s teacher and course assignments 
  • Details about our online learning platforms and instructions on how to use them

Can the district livestream classes?
Some have asked why we do not just livestream the learning in the in-person classrooms for the students at home. There are several reasons:

  • Online and in-person learning are fundamentally different methods of instruction.
  • A teacher would not be able to effectively meet the needs of the students watching at home in this format, who would just be passive observers.
  • The most proven, effective methods for online instruction allow the teacher to provide dedicated time and feedback to the online students to make sure they are engaged with their learning.
  • This also creates legal, ethical and privacy issues.
class sizes
  Will the enrollment in Park Hill Online make the in-person class sizes smaller?
Not necessarily. Having students sign up for Park Hill Online does make our common areas, such as our hallways, cafeterias and playgrounds, less crowded. However, it does not necessarily mean our in-person class sizes will be smaller than usual. We do not have additional teachers, so when students move to Park Hill Online, we must assign our teachers to the online classes. Our in-person classes will stay within our usual class-size ranges. 
school supplies
  Will Park Hill Online have a different school supplies list?
Both our in-person and Park Hill Online students will need the same lists of school supplies. The online learners will still need items like pencils and glue to complete their work at home. Some supplies, such as elementary math manipulatives, will be available for families to check out, so they don’t need to buy them. As in other years, we provide supply lists for our elementary, middle-school and Jones Center students online, and our high school students find out the supplies they need from their teachers once the school year begins.
split mode
  Why did we format the sixth-12th-grade hybrid schedule in split mode the way we did?
In the split mode for in-person students, we set up a hybrid schedule of A-B-distance-A-B. This is to make sure that our teachers can have in-person check-ins with students throughout the week, keeping them engaged and maintaining the positive relationships that are so important to learning. It is a best practice to minimize the number of days between in-person connections.
online start
  Why can’t students who signed up for Park Hill Online start on August 24?
All students start on September 8 to keep them together on the same learning schedule. In addition, we need to use the added time to help all our teachers prepare for this school year, so they are equipped to meet students’ needs.
back-to-school and orientation
  How will we handle back-to-school nights and orientations?
Back-to-school nights and orientations for parents will be virtual. Your child’s principal will send you more information about when these will be and how to participate. Student orientations for students transitioning to a new level, such as kindergarteners, sixth graders and high-school freshmen, will be limited and will include safety precautions. We are communicating with those families about how these will work and how students can participate. 
student's teacher and schedule
  When will I find out my student’s teacher or schedule?
Elementary and middle-school families will find out teachers and schedules on Monday, August 24. High-school students will get their schedules at registration. Registration dates will come out soon from the high schools.
will the plan change?
  Will our reopening plan change again? How long will we be in the split-mode option? 
Currently, our in-person students are beginning the school year in split mode. We hope to move them to 100% in-person when the levels of COVID-19 in our community decrease, but we might need to move to full distance learning if levels increase. If we change our in-person learning mode, we will give families as much notice as possible. Everything about our plan is subject to change based on new recommendations from public health officials.
families need backup
  Do in-person families need to prepare in case we move to distance learning?
Just as we do for snow days, each family of an in-person student needs to have backup plans for childcare, supervision and helping students with distance learning. This will help you and your child transition more easily if the need arises. 
sixth-12th hybrid
  In split mode, why are we only using the hybrid option with grades 6-12?
Both the Kansas City and Platte County health departments recommended that elementary students remain in school. According to the Kansas City Health Department’s guidance, “To date, for children under 10, we have little evidence of significant levels of child-to-child transmission. We also have little evidence of significant child-to-adult transmission. Therefore, based on this evidence, and the challenges of virtual learning in the younger ages, we are highly encouraging in-person education for all pre-K through grade school students.”
In addition, because our elementary students do not move between classes the way our middle- and high-school students do, we can keep them in stable groups as recommended by public health officials.
first day delay
  Why did we push the start date back to September 8? 
We pushed back our start date in response to recommendations from the Kansas City Health Department and the Platte County Health Department, based on high levels of COVID-19 in our area.
tech they need
  When will we get laptops and other needed technology?
On or before August 14, we will share a plan for distributing laptops and other technology to students who need them before school starts.
  How will this late start impact MSHSAA athletics and activities?  
At this time, MSHSAA has not changed any dates or guidelines. We are working with both MSHSAA and the suburban conference guidance on all student activities, and we will update our community if they change anything. 

new answers about academic options:


  What criteria are we using to determine what mode of in-person learning we are in?
The Mid-America Regional Council is working on regional common gating criteria with the local health departments and Children’s Mercy. This will tell us when to move through the modes of our plan for our in-person students.
split mode
  Will students who have IEPs still be in person if we are in split mode or distance learning?
No. In split mode or distance learning, only a few students with specific needs, such as autism or essential skills, might require more in-person services, depending on the severity of their needs. 

This will be an IEP team decision, following the federal law.  
family support  

How will we support families during this time?

  • We are developing a Parent University to help families support their online learners at home. 
  • We are investigating how we will feed our students when they are learning at home. 
  • We are providing support to our families in need by connecting them to community resources, including food banks, clothing and options for back-to-school supplies.

Our "Family Support During Pandemic" page has a list of resources for families.