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Princeton High School News

Updated September 1, 2020

Here are are some frequently asked questions relating to Princeton High School and the all-remote opening.

What is the difference between Cohort A & B?

At PHS we have 2 Cohorts, A & B.  This was done for scheduling purposes so that when we return to school on October 19th in a hybrid model the classes are smaller, balanced and students are able to maintain social distancing.  There is currently a form in PowerSchool asking parents to denote their commitment to either hybrid or all remote which will begin on October 19th.  People have been referring to this as Cohort C.  However, though we will denote a student as all remote in PowerSchool so teachers are aware of these particular students, they will still be assigned to either Cohort A or B in the case the families wish the student to switch to the Hybrid model.

What will the first day of school look like beginning on September 14th?

The teacher will check in on the well-being of our students, take attendance, and follow the planned lesson for the day.  That lesson may involve synchronous instruction, it may have an asynchronous component, or it may include a combination of both.

  • For example, a teacher may check in with students for five minutes, deliver a lesson through direct instruction for 15 minutes, send students to Canvas to do an activity embedded there, and then bring students back together as a group to debrief on what they’ve learned.
  • Another example of instruction may be where a teacher has previously assigned students work to do at home, such as reading an article, solving a handful of problems, explaining what a quotation may mean, analyzing data on a chart or watching a recorded lesson on Canvas.  Then, when students, via Zoom, join their regularly scheduled class, they should be prepared to engage in a discussion, whether in a large group with the teacher or in breakout groups that the teacher will monitor; or, the teacher may share his or her screen with a succession of students to demonstrate how they solved a mathematical problem, with the teacher and the students’ peers able to critique the solution or offer alternative ones.
  • These are just two of many possible scenarios regarding how teachers can use Zoom and Canvas for remote learning with your children.  In addition, teachers will be available for extra help or feedback during their posted office hours.  (During those times, students can reach out to their teachers and our teachers can reach out to their students.)

What will school look like on October 19th when the Hybrid Model begins?

Upon our transition to our hybrid-schooling model on Mon., Oct. 19th, students in Cohort B will learn in person for the first four days while students in Cohort A and those who are all remote (Cohort C) will learn remotely.  The following week, students in Cohort A will come for the first four days and students in Cohort B and Cohort C will learn remotely.

Regardless of whether students are learning in person or remotely, all will check in with their teachers for their regularly scheduled classes by presenting themselves either in their physical classroom or via Zoom.  The lessons for those learning remotely may be synchronous, asynchronous, or a combination of both; however, for all students, the teacher will first note what the day’s learning objectives are and what the day’s activities, in person and remotely, will entail.

  • For example, a teacher, standing at his or her desk after having taken attendance, will have the computer camera on.  The teacher will spend 20 minutes demonstrating a task, modeling a skill, or giving direct instruction.  Afterwards, the teacher may assign the students learning remotely to breakout groups to work together while he or she gives feedback to the students who are learning in person.  After this activity, the teacher may bring everyone back for closure and to set the students up with expectations for the work they’ll do at home that evening and for the next time they’ll have class.
  • Another example may include the teacher checking in with students who are in person and remote.  The teacher will then direct the remote students to Canvas to watch a video or complete an activity while the teacher guides a similar activity with the students in person.  Teachers will be available for extra help or feedback during posted office hours.  Again, teachers will be available for extra help or feedback during their posted office hours, help that students or teachers can initiate.



There were several comments regarding synchronous and asynchronous learning.  Below we’d like to share some of our thoughts:

There seems to be an assumption that synchronous learning – teachers teaching in the classroom with a video camera on the teacher/students - is a replica of traditional classroom instructions; at least close to it.  While we understand the rationale behind this assumption, unfortunately, it will not come close to what our traditional classrooms look like.    

The reality is that when we return to school with the Hybrid model, traditional in-person instructions will look very different from what we knew before: Plexi glass has been installed on teachers’ desks.  Students will be sitting six feet apart.  Teachers will no longer be walking around the classroom to check in on students as they often did previously.  Much of the feedback/comments will be conducted online.  Individual support will be provided during Office Hours in the afternoon online or 6 feet away in person.  This means synchronous learning may be a better instructional model sometimes versus others.  


Below, we attempt to present two instructional models/case studies.  Each one has its advantages and disadvantages depending on the student’s needs. These are just a few of the many instructional models our teachers will adopt for each of their classrooms - all case studies are based on in-person instruction for Cohort A; at-home remote learning for Cohort B&C.

Scenario 1:  All cohorts are online at the same time - flipped learning model:

Teacher Action

Student Action

Attendance/Check in with students

Attendance: All cohorts on line

(Video instructions were provided previous evening.) 


Q&A of flipped lesson/homework via Zoom or Discussion Board on Canvas



(Instructions were completed previously, and students took careful notes.)


Q&A: Cohort A in person; others online.  



Assessment via Canvas

Assign homework: instructional videos

Complete work at home


Pro: All students are synchronized.  

Con: Lack of harmony between Cohort A and remote students.  For example, if an A student asks a question in person, remote students may or may not be able to hear it clearly when online; or, if teacher needs to use the white board to do a demo for Cohort A, online students may or may not be able to see everything easily due to technology and space limitations.  (Teachers cannot use Zoom to do the demo because Zoomers cannot be sitting close to each other in the same room.  It creates audio issues such as echoes.) 


Scenario 2:  Cohort A in person with remote students offline.  

Teacher Action

Student Action

Attendance/Check in with students

Attendance: All cohorts on line

Assign projects and activities to Remote students and begin in-person instruction to Cohort A.



Cohort A follow teacher instructions in person. 


Remote students receive instructions via pre-recorded videos.  Lessons may be or may not be synchronized.  (For example, Cohort A may discuss one chapter of a book in person while remote students learn a different chapter offline.) 


Guided Practice



In person feedback

Cohort A complete activities in person.  


Remote students are grouped based on common interest or shared experiences.  

Remote students complete projects offline or online via Zoom in breakout rooms. 

End of Class Check-in via Zoom or an online Discussion with all cohorts.

All cohorts.


Pro: Cohort A (in-person) gets the most “authentic” classroom instructions.  Teachers can focus on in-person instruction in real time without being distracted by different technologies, different methods of lesson deliveries and other limitations.  Fewer barriers (e.g. technology, space, logistics, etc.).  Students in each cohort get targeted instructions.  

Con:  Need more “together-time" to bring everybody together at the end of each unit. Besides that, there isn’t much else, as this kind of instruction requires teachers to do much more extensive planning and/or co-planning so that he/she can provide very targeted instructions.

Note this model can be easily modified to make the instruction piece online and synchronized.


Through this exercise, we hope we have demonstrated that there is no blanket approach to remote learning or hybrid learning.  The two examples above are set in the most “generic” classroom.  Our classrooms at PHS are anything but generic.  All classrooms have students with special needs.  Some classes have a co-teacher; others may have an instructional aide.  Depending on the subject and content, students learn very differently.  Teachers should and will choose the most appropriate instructional model to satisfy the needs of their students.


In conclusion, rather than regulating the instructional methods with maximum or minimum synchronous learning, we believe the more appropriate approach is that teachers should focus on their priorities (e.g. student’s needs), actions (e.g. instructions, projects, assessments) and strategies that align to proficient and distinguished practices (synchronous or asynchronous). This may vary depending on the day’s/week’s lesson.  By doing so, we will support our students’ learning and wellbeing, and will help increase student autonomy and success.  



Are performing arts classes continuing while online?



For performing arts: if students are split, how will they rehearse? There has been a heavy investment in software to make it a positive experience for your children this Fall.  Teachers are excited about exploring it with the students.  


Will rehearsals be canceled if it is seen as a health risk?

Students’ and staff’s health and safety is our utmost priority.  Rehearsals may be canceled per State and district policy and guidelines if health risks are identified.  


What about the dance program?  

Dance and music programs are scheduled to continue. 



Will teachers see students every day?  

Yes.  Teachers will do attendance and a check-in at the start of each class.  


Will Cohort C students get live class instruction or pre-recorded lessons?

Both.  Please see more detailed explanation re: synchronous and asynchronous instructions above.  


Why can't teachers stream themselves without the camera facing the students?

This can be done with certain limitations (e.g. privacy, liability and other reasons). Please see more detailed explanation re: synchronous and asynchronous instructions above.


Will a hybrid student on their ‘home week’ see their teachers at the beginning of class every morning?  

Yes – at the beginning of each period each day. 


Is there a scenario where the kids are in the classroom with a substitute teacher because their teachers have accommodations and is at home?  

When we begin the Hybrid model on October 19th a teacher, whether they have an accommodation to work from home or is not able to be in school on a particular day, will have coverage either by a substitute or another staff member.  


How will bio lab be conducted remotely? 

Many teachers are planning on coming to school to conduct and stream or record lab demonstrations during All Remote.  Lab materials will be distributed to students so that experiences can be conducted at home.  Alternatively, teachers may ask students to use various home materials to conduct experiments for the same/comparable effects.  


Is there planning for all remote for the entire year? 

Teachers have been planning for both Hybrid and All Remote. At this time, the high school is set to begin the Hybrid model on October 19th.  


Why are sports still happening but after school clubs are not?  

Sports and clubs/activities have different risk profiles. Sports are not happening yet.  BOE will make an announcement by September 8, 2020. Fall sports are all outdoors.  (Volleyball and Cheerleading have been rescheduled for the spring.) After school clubs are online.  Our Dean of Students, Mrs. Lygas, may plan some in person activities outdoors throughout the fall.   


What is happening with mandatory community service?

Community Service is scheduled for Friday mornings.  More information will come out soon.  Please reach out to Dr. Dinan at if you have any questions.  


Cohort C will never have live, synchronously taught classes.  Is that correct? 

No.  Please see more detailed explanation re: synchronous and asynchronous instructions above.  




Any special considerations for enrichment activities for students?

Ms. Diana Lygas, Dean of Students, has already planned various activities to welcome our incoming freshman. Parents should have received an email regarding Freshman Orientation and Picture Day(s).  More information about various activities, both online and offline, will be coming your way throughout the year.


What’s being considered to try to encourage community and socialization for the students?  What is being done to include/invite those students whose social activities were seeing friends in the hallways?

See answer to the question above.  We will organize ongoing activities to help students get connected.  This, in no way, can replace what we had in the hallway, on the PHS front lawn, in the PAC lobby... but our students need it.  


Why sports are still happening but after school clubs are not?

The BOE has not made a determination about sports yet. 

Sports and clubs carry different types of risks.  Therefore, they follow different guidelines.  


Will clubs meet outdoors? 

No. Clubs will only be meeting online under the supervision of their advisors.  


How will performing arts program be affected? 

See previous FAQ. 




What is the likelihood of the full online period extending past October 15? 

This is a school board decision.  For now, we plan to go all remote until October 19, 2020.  Then, we will begin the Hybrid model. 


When are students getting their schedules? 

Late in the week of September 1.  


How do I know which Cohort I am in? 

Sign into Power School.  Next to your child’s name, you will see his/her Student ID.  Next to the ID, there is a letter (A/B), indicating your assigned cohort.  Generally speaking, students’ last names start with A-L belong to Cohort A.  The rest belongs to Cohort B. For those who choose All Remote (a.k.a. Cohort C), you are assigned to either A or B as well based on your last name.  "C” is only used to denote that you are not expected by your teachers in the classrooms.  We are still collecting information through a PowerSchool form for students who will choose the All Remote option.  We will make this designation in PowerSchool at a later date.  


If my child switches from Hybrid to Remote, will their teachers change?  



Who do we need to contact to validate that the appropriate cohorts are allocated for our kids?

Please log into Power School.  Click on Form.  You should see the Re Entry Commitment Form listed.  If not, please reach out to

Please also feel free to reach out to your child’s Assistant Principal.  Please see the breakdown by last name below: 

A-G: Cecilia Birge, (609) 806-4280 ext. 3503,

H-O: Rashone Johnson, (609) 806-4280 ext.3504 

P-Z: Jared Warren, (609) 806-4280 ext. 3502,


What’s the process to request a change of cohort after September 14th?

Because schedules were carefully balanced in anticipation of the Hybrid Model most requests to change cohorts will not be honored.  If you feel you have an extenuating circumstance such as your children are in different cohorts please reach out to your child’s Assistant Principal.  


How will community service be carried out? 

Please reach out to Dr. Andrea Dinan at


What is the max number of students per class being considered for each group that will go through the Hybrid model in order to ensure social distance?  

It depends on the size and shape of the classroom. 

In most classrooms, desks and chairs in every other row and column will not be used.  They will be taped up so that students won’t sit in them. This means that a typical classroom will have no more than 12 students and 2 teachers.  In other classrooms, desks and chairs will be rearranged based on the size and shape of each room so that it will meet the 6 feet requirement.  


How is bus transportation going to be set-up so that there is effective social distancing?

The District’s Re-Entry Plan addresses this issue.  Detailed questions can also be directed to Transportation Director, Donna Bradon at


Where/how do we find out the most up-to-date information? 

All important communication will always be emailed to parents.   Please check the Demographic Information page in Power School to ensure that your email address is correct.  If you have trouble receiving emails from us, please email for Power School related issues.  For all other tech issues, please email

We also post information on Facebook.  Ms. Lygas is particularly diligent about posting various club activities promptly.  Families are encouraged to turn the Facebook notification on for Princeton High School (@PrincetonHighSchoolNJ).  


Do you envision holding these town halls every few weeks once school gets going so we can continue this dialogue on how to create the best experience for the kids?  Sounds like there will be some trial and error and we should be nimble enough to pivot as needed.

Yes.  Please also reach out to your child’s Assistant Principals for more immediately responses and communication.  


Will the Bell Schedule stay the same when we go Hybrid as it is not 9:35am start for remote?  

No.  We will revert back to our hybrid Bell Schedule (8:20am – 1pm).  More info will be released as we approach the October 19th Hybrid Model start date.


Is there a designated school liaison for parents to discuss future concerns?

Please reach out to your child’s Assistant Principal. 


What’s being done to the HVAC ventilation in school to sanitize air? 

Please reach out to the district at for detailed explanations.  


Is there planning for all remote for the entire year? 

Yes.  We are prepared to go either remote or hybrid.  


The superintendent said this fall-remote opening is largely because of staffing issues.  What has to change from that teachers who don’t want to or can’t come back in person in September will be able to do so in October?  

Teachers have the option to apply for a Leave of Absence or an approved Accomodation based on doctor’s note.  All teachers who cannot meet these two criteria are expected to be back in the building should we choose to go Hybrid.  

Unlike elementary school, where most teachers can cover other teachers’ classes, at the high school level, teachers are certified based on subjects.  Teachers of certain subjects, e.g. Special Ed Math, are more in demand than others.  Therefore, our schedule is less forgiving when compared to elementary schools’. 


What are the benchmarks the school needs to hit in order to achieve the hybrid model on October 19th?  

A variety of factors will be taken into consideration.  Some of them are determined by CDC, the Governor’s Office, NJDOE as well as our school board.  Ultimately, this is a district decision.  


Will students be changing classrooms or are you keeping them in the same classrooms?  

The instructional needs (e.g. science labs) as well as the limited space at PHS do not allow us to keep students in the same classrooms.  


How are you supporting students without access to the internet?

Families without internet have been provided with a hot spot by the district. We are actively looking into better ways to support these families. 


Many people with whom I’ve spoken are planning to keep their kids home for the first couple of weeks of the hybrid plan, and then send them in once they feel comfortable with how well the safety protocols are working. How will this affect the cohorts?

All Remote students (a.k.a Cohort C) are assigned to Cohort A/B in Power School.  In other words, from scheduling perspective, there is no Cohort C. Facility wise, all classrooms and learning spaces are prepped with the entire student body in Hybrid in mind.  

For example, say 12 students are assigned to English III, Cohort A, but 4 have chosen to be All Remote (Cohort C).  Teachers will see only 8 students in the classroom during Week A, but there will be enough seat for all 12 students.  


What will be the policy for a request for a class change once school has started? Usually students cannot change or drop courses in the first two weeks.  Then, they have to obtain a form and have it signed to drop a class.  Is this policy different this year?

Students will be receiving their schedules before the start of the school year.  Any questions or requests for changes are done through the school counselors.  Because of the intricacies of our schedule and the need to keep class sizes to a certain number, many requests changes may not be allowed.




Will students be assigned an Outlook email address for use in school?  



My child already has a MacBook Air at home.  Do they still need to get a school issued one?  Can we use our own computer(s) to complete the work?

All students are receiving a new MacBook Air this school year.  Students must use this district issued device and our technology department will be able to support students and troubleshoot as needed. The use of district devices is critical to the instructional process, security, equity and network reliability. The use of district issued devices allows for teachers and students to have the same capabilities in Canvas (the new LMS) and other applications. In addition, the technology department is able to push course specific software as needed and pertaining to certain classes.





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