Frequently Asked Questions: Distance Learning
Health Connected has adapted our in-person programs and services for distance learning in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Read on for more information about how this might impact your school, district, family, or student. Please check back regularly as we will be updating these FAQs as we learn more and adjust to meet our partners' needs.
Is Health Connected still delivering courses for schools?
Starting in April 2020, Health Connected began delivering all instruction via distance learning. Starting in June 2020, we are assessing and updating our distance learning content and offerings based on student, parent, and teacher feedback. We are also in conversation with our school and district partners to ensure we can meet their instructional support needs for the 2020-21 school year, which will likely include some combination of in-person and online instruction. If your school or district is interested in learning more about our student instruction services, please contact us at programs(at)health-connected.org.
How does the online experience differ from in-class experience?
The nature of online learning generally necessitates that instruction be more didactic and less hands-on than an in-class experience. That being said, we have built our digital learning modules to have cross-platform integration and interactive components. Students still engage in live, moderated group discussions via chat, anonymous polls, and a variety of online quizzes and surveys to actively participate and share their thoughts. Each of our digital learning modules includes follow-up activities, additional videos, and a daily trusted adult conversation guide.
How do you ensure student safety and privacy?
Webinar participants are able to see the Health Connected instructors, but are not able to see other students. As a precaution to preserve student safety and privacy, all webinar participants have their microphone muted and video function turned off. The screen sharing function is also disabled for all webinar participants. The chat function in the webinar platform is only able to be viewed by the Health Connected instructors.
How do you prevent online harassment and ensure student privacy during your online courses?
All of our online courses are facilitated by two trained Health Connected Health Educators. Student participants do not have their audio or video enabled and are only able to communicate via the platform chat box with the trained Health Educators. The educators moderate, filter, and rephrase student comments to ensure they are medically accurate and age-appropriate. If there are persistent issues with inappropriate behavior, the educators follow up with the host teacher and student directly to discuss behavior expectations.
School or District Representatives
(Administrators or Teachers)
Are your online courses live or recorded?
All of our online student-facing courses are delivered live, facilitated by two of Health Connected’s Health Educators in order to maximize the interactivity, provide opportunities for student questions to be answered, and create a safe online space for learning about sexual health topics. Follow-up assignments are posted on a pre-determined platform (e.g., Google Classroom, Canvas, etc.). Starting in June 2020, we are evaluating the mix of synchronous and asynchronous components of our distance learning offerings to balance interactivity with access to information.
How many sessions are required for your distance learning courses?
As with our in-person instruction, Puberty Talk (for 5th and 6th graders) is designed to be implemented over the course of 5 days and Teen Talk Middle School (7th and 8th graders) and Teen Talk High School (9th-12th graders) are designed to be implemented over the course of 10 days.
Why can't the webinars be recorded and posted so that my students can complete the instruction at any time that works for them?
We are committed to providing interactive health education in a social environment while maintaining student privacy and safety. We have determined that the most effective way to do this, and meet the California Education Code requirements for skill-building and objective discussion of sensitive topics, is through a combination of synchronous (live) and asynchronous (self-guided) presentations and exercises. In preparation for the 2020-21 school year, we are currently evaluating the mix of synchronous and asynchronous components of our distance learning offerings to balance interactivity with access to information.
Are all of the mandates of the California Healthy Youth Act (CA Education Code Sections 51930-51939) fulfilled in your online courses?
All of our online courses are online versions of our Puberty Talk and Teen Talk curriculum series, which meets all of the requirements of the California Healthy Youth Act. Of particular note, under California Education Code, sexual health education is required to be skills-based, such as those related to protective behaviors or communication skills with parents, peers, and partners. Certain topics also require incorporation of objective discussions. While there are limitations in online platforms to create safe spaces to build some of these skills, however we have designed all of our online courses to incorporate skill development wherever possible. For example, each session includes a mini homework assignment to ask a trusted adult questions related to the topics covered in each session.
What happens if schools do not provide this course, are they out of compliance?
There is currently no instructional reprieve from requirements for school districts with regard to sexual health education, even in the current circumstances. As such, school districts are still obligated to provide sexual health instruction for 7th-12th grade students compliant with the California Healthy Youth Act as planned. Below 7th grade, sexual health or puberty instruction is not required, however if it is provided, even online, it must still meet the baseline requirements outlined in California Education Code Section 51933.
Which platforms and apps are you using? What if my school or district doesn't allow us to use one or more of those platforms or apps?
All of our distance learning instruction are currently delivered using Zoom Webinar as the live online video platform to deliver the classroom instruction. After researching the available options for online presentations, Zoom Webinar provided the most flexibility for incorporation of interactive elements and, most importantly, the most available safety features to ensure a respectful learning environment for students. We have used Google Classroom, Canvas Classroom. and Google Sites to provide direct links to webinars, follow-up assignments, and resources. For schools/districts that use other learning management systems, we have provided a document with hyperlinks and information for all webinars, follow-up assignments, and resources. In preparation for the 2020-21 school year, we are currently evaluating all of the platforms we use for our online courses to both meet our school partners’ needs and our requirements for instructional integrity and student safety.
How much does it cost to deliver Health Connected's distance learning courses? Can we get a discount if we've had our teachers trained?
As with many of our services, Health Connected does charge fees to deliver our distance learning courses. We are a community-based nonprofit organization that depends on fees from our services in combination with philanthropic support to sustain our work, an effort made even more challenging in the wake of COVID-19 as philanthropic support has become more unpredictable. We are currently assessing the fees for all of our services to balance both our organizational sustainability and the anticipated uncertainty in school budgets. If you would like pricing information about any of our offerings—instructional support (in-person and distance learning), teacher trainings, and family engagement—please contact us at programs(at)health-connected.org.
How do we sign up to have our students receive distance learning instruction from Health Connected?
We are currently accepting requests from schools and districts to schedule instruction during the 2020-21 school year. All of our programs are intended to be delivered in-person, however we are including a clause in all of our service agreements that instruction may be delivered online, depending on public health requirements and district policy. To request instructional services, please contact us at programs(at)health-connected.org to discuss your school or district’s specific instructional needs and requirements.
Are you offering online training for teachers?
All of our training sessions through December 2020 will be delivered online. Please contact us at training(at)health-connected.org for further information.
I've been trained by Health Connected. Can you send me any online tools you've developed?
We have created Distance Learning Toolkits for each of our curricula so that teachers who have been trained to implement Puberty Talk or Teen Talk can provide this important information to your students online through your school/district's preferred platforms.
Each Toolkit includes:
- PowerPoints (one for each of the 5 Puberty Talk or 10 Teen Talk lessons)
- Videos (MP4 files and YouTube links)
- Student Worksheets (some have been converted into fillable PDFs)
- Teacher Resources (mandated reporting guidelines, adapted assessment)
Please note, our courses are designed to be facilitated live, not completed by each student independently. California Education Code requires that mandated sexual health education incorporate objective discussions of specific topics. All of our original presentations (e.g. PowerPoint, Prezi) have been modified for use with a virtual meeting platform (e.g. Zoom, Webex). Given the sensitive nature of some topics, and the complications of distance learning, we have pared down the content and used a trauma-informed lens to adapt each lesson. The Distance Learning Guide (PDF within each Toolkit) provides an overview of each day's lesson, as well as ideas for making the lessons more interactive (e.g. polls, discussion questions, quiz games, follow-up assignments). It is not recommended to post/share the presentations in your virtual classroom for students to access on their own.
Health Connected's Distance Learning Toolkits are available for purchase. These materials will be provided free of charge to anyone who has completed our Training of Trainers program.
While we would love to provide these toolkits free of charge for every school or district, as a non-profit organization, we aren’t able to absorb the cost of the several hundred hours required to thoughtfully adapt our in-person courses for distance learning in a short period of time. Like most other non-profit organizations navigating the immediate crisis and long-term aftermath of COVID-19, we are in a challenging spot as we try to meet our expenses and retain our staff as school budgets and philanthropic support become more unpredictable. That said, we recognize that these fees may be difficult to cover so please contact us at programs(at)health-connected.org so we can try to find a way to work within your school/district’s financial requirements.
Please note, our Distance Learning Toolkits are only available to teachers who have been trained by Health Connected since January 2016. If you are unsure if your district qualifies, please contact us at programs(at)health-connected.org.
If we’re not able to receive your adapted digital materials, can we just post the presentations, assignments, and videos we received from the training on our school/district’s online platform for students to access independently?
Unfortunately, no. California Education Code requires that sexual health education be skills-based and include opportunities for objective discussion of certain topics. The Terms & Conditions of use of any of our curricula prohibits the exclusion or modification of any Health Connected curriculum content in a way that renders it inconsistent with the California Education Code or California Health Content Standards. Lastly, all of our course materials are designed to be facilitated by a trained instructor, who can provide the full scope of content required under the Education Code.
Is attendance mandatory? Will attendance be recorded?
Student attendance policies depend on your school or district’s requirements for student participation in distance learning experiences. Health Connected will record the number of students from each school or district that participate in each of our live webinars, but will not record the names of students who participate.
Parents and Trusted Adults
Do you have any online programs for parents?
We offer regular online Parent Information Sessions delivered via live webinars. The Parent Information Sessions provide an overview of the Education Code requirements and information about Puberty Talk, Teen Talk Middle School, or Teen Talk High School. Parents must pre-register and provide the name of their student’s school district and/or school. We are in the process of developing online interactive workshops for parents and families. For more information about our family engagement opportunities and information sessions, please email parents(at)health-connected.org.
How can I preview the curriculum if my district office isn't open?
Review Only copies of the daily slides are available to preview upon request. Please visit Distance Learning Preview for more information and to request access.
Will I have access to the lesson plan so I can support my child's learning?
The platform your student will use to access the course will have a list of lesson topics. The Parent Guide associated with your student’s course provides a summary of the content and the rationale for each lesson. The Parent Guide also includes suggested questions for each topic to help you engage with your child and provide a context to talk about your family’s values as they relate to the content.
What if I want to opt my child out of some or all of the lessons? How do I do that?
Once you receive the notification letter from your school/district regarding upcoming Health Connected instruction, please email the contact person noted in the letter to notify them of your student’s withdrawal from the selected lessons per CA Education Code Section 51938 (b)(4); 51939(a). As with our in-person courses, it is important to know that the course content is scaffolded such that the content for each session builds on and reinforces content from previous sessions.
Will providing instruction on this subject encourage my child to continue looking online for even more information once the lesson is over?
Young people are curious about bodies, relationships, and sexual health—regardless of formalized instruction. Formal instruction legitimizes curiosity and channels it through intentional, factual curriculum design. Our hope is that the natural curiosity of young people will be satisfied by the live instruction, the live Q&A, the Follow-Up Activities, and the encouragement to ask questions of their trusted adults. The intentional engagement with trusted adults provided in the lessons is an effort to help families share their values regarding the content, and further online investigation can be a part of the conversation. It is appropriate that parents and trusted adults caution young people about online exploration, as curiosity about sexual health is almost universal among young people.
Can parents and their child complete the course together?
While Health Connected highly values parent engagement, students are encouraged to work independently during the live instruction portion of each lesson, as they would during typical classroom instruction. The sensitive nature of the content may cause embarrassment if done with a parent, which could potentially compromise the student’s learning experience. Parents are encouraged to view videos in the Follow-Up Activities section. The Trusted Adult Questions of the Day are also an opportunity to engage with your student about lesson content, however students are encouraged to ask a trusted adult of their choice to do this activity.
How can I best encourage discussion between myself and my child during and after the course?
There are invitations to involve trusted adults whenever there is video content included in the Follow-Up Activity, and of course, there is the Trusted Adult Question of the Day that your student may ask you. Please let your student know of your willingness to be involved in these aspects of programming, and show some enthusiasm for the opportunity (but don’t go overboard, as young people can be suspicious of eagerness). Let the young person lead the conversation if they are able, and ask gentle, open-ended questions if they are struggling (please see the Parent Guide associated with your child’s curriculum for suggested questions). After the course, refer back to the topics so that you can use them as a springboard into broader context or depth. Topics like anatomy, consent, personal safety, and values are taught in all Health Connected courses, and references abound in TV and movies and can be discussed with more confidence knowing that students have a foundation of knowledge and language to use respectfully and more competently.
Will the classroom teacher or an administrator be involved in the instruction?
Your student’s classroom teacher, science teacher, or assigned staff member will be a “panelist” in the live webinar. They will be able to see the names of students participating, and will have access to the live chat options.
What if my child has limited access to a device?
Many school districts are making devices available to families who do not have access to them. Please contact your school district to see if you may apply.
How can I help my child have a comfortable learning experience online?
Some students may feel comfortable sharing information openly about what they are learning during Puberty Talk or Teen Talk, while others may prefer to keep the experience more private. Also, younger siblings and other family members in the home may not have the context to learn about this material at this time. We want to create a safe, comfortable virtual learning environment for students who are participating in the lessons. We suggest that students use headphones and angle their device screen so they are the only one seeing and hearing the materials, just as they would in a classroom. They may also want to move to a more private space within the home while attending these sessions, such as a corner of the room, or even building a fort out of blankets!