Remote Learning Academy



There are some families who, due to student medical concerns or personal and family issues, wish to have their children participate in a remote learning only model during the 2020-21 school year.  We are calling this group of students the “Red Cohort” and they are enrolled in our Remote Learning Academy. While they will continue to be Needham Public Schools students, they will not participate in regular and in-person school activities. 

Remote Learning Academy contacts for more information:
Preschool Program - Rebecca Sparrell,
K to 8 Program - Megan Bonomolo,
High School Program - Aaron Sicotte,


On August 21, the Superintendent held a Zoom meeting for families to answer questions about the Red Cohort (now known as the Remote Learning Academy). The presentation and the recording of this meeting are available for your reference. In addition, here is a summary of key points about the Remote Learning Academy for those families who opt for this learning model for their children:


-  Students in the Remote Learning Academy will not be assigned to classes taught by teachers who are instructing in the hybrid model. Students in K to 8 will be assigned to Needham Public Schools teachers; students in grade 9 to 12 will receive instruction from NHS teachers and teachers who are part of our educational collaborative.


-  Students who are participating in the Remote Learning Academy will experience both synchronous and asynchronous learning experiences as planned by their online teacher. They will use Zoom, Google Classroom/SeeSaw to engage in their learning experiences. 


-  Teachers will take attendance daily, provide feedback on a regular basis, and will be available for individual support as needed. Special Education, ELL, and general education supports will be provided to this cohort in the same manner as they would be for students in the hybrid cohorts. There may be limitations in special area subjects (e.g., physical education or music) due to the nature of the model of instruction and health requirements. 


-  Students will be grouped by grade level; class groupings at the elementary level will likely include students from across the district. Students in the Remote Learning Academy will not necessarily have a teacher from their original and neighborhood school.


-  In general, instruction and time on learning will be similar to the Full Remote Model which would be implemented should the district need to close schools due to a health concern. Students at the elementary and secondary levels will receive synchronous and asynchronous instruction of 5 to 5.5 hours per day. Students will be expected to complete independent work as part of their school day.


-  Students will receive the necessary special education supports required, although these services may be delivered differently than the hybrid model of instruction.


-  Families and students will not participate in their neighborhood school’s daily learning program; however, families and students will continue to be enrolled in the Needham Public Schools and can most certainly participate in after school and family activities sponsored by their neighborhood or secondary school.


-  For some high school students in the Remote Learning Academy, an outside provider we would rely on is TECCA, Massachusetts’ accredited online high school that has been in existence for many years now. The teachers are all certified and the vast majority have extensive experience teaching in an online format. They follow the Massachusetts Frameworks for content and skills, as NHS does, so their coursework will address the same concepts as NHS classes do. We usually have a handful of students who are fully enrolled in TECCA each year or who take a few classes through them, and it is always a rich educational experience. The only real difference is that NHS courses will only be for NHS students, and TECCA courses may include students from other communities. Here is the website to their full high school (Connections Academy) if you want to explore their programming further. 


-   The Remote Learning Academy we are building for Needham High School will allow our teachers to teach as many of the courses as possible, including our AP courses. We will be working hard to make sure our students get into the courses they asked for, no matter whether it happens through us, through TECCA, or any of our other partners, all of whom will provide a rich experience for our students.


-  Families may opt out of the Remote Learning Academy at the conclusion of a grading period or after elementary conferences are held. However, if the district or a parent feels that a change to the hybrid model is essential to a student’s wellbeing and growth, an immediate change will be considered.


If you have a question, please contact your child’s school or check the FAQs for Families.


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