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Remote Learning Q & A with Matthew Hickson


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Q: What is a typical day like in remote learning?

A: Students will log on at a set time as designated by their school using their own device or their DPS issued device. Students will have live classes through a video conferencing application (many teachers will use Zoom and Google Meet). There will be frequent breaks and work that your student will be expected to complete and turn in using Canvas, the district’s one-stop hub for learning materials. Students will also have opportunities throughout the week for small group support from their teacher. Middle and High School teachers will offer office hours at set times to support students. Your school and teachers will share these schedules with you.

Q: What will my child be learning online?

A: During online learning, students will have access to the same curriculum DPS has always offered and more. Students can utilize online portals with DPS approved reading materials, arts lessons, math curriculum, and specials or elective classwork. Through Canvas, your student will have access to more instructional materials and opportunities to interact in ways that meet their learning style. Canvas will be a transition for many families, but learning it will lead to gains for your student. Visit to learn more about starting as a parent observer.

Q: What about music, art and other hands-on learning experiences?

A: During the COVID-19 pandemic, DPS will continually explore creative ways for students to experience a full educational experience. This will include using software and video conferencing for arts lessons as well as sharing materials for at home labs where applicable. DPS is committed to being creative and working with your family to ensure that students continue to access hands on learning in the arts and other areas wherever possible.

Q: What tools will teachers be using the create the classroom learning experience with students remotely?

A: We are committed to keeping it simple. Students will utilize Canvas for curriculum materials, announcements and assignments, and they will have a link to access the teacher’s live classroom. Most tools students will utilize will be linked through one of these two platforms. DPS has also purchased a range of high-quality curriculum materials that your student can access, but thanks to Canvas, many will be included in one place.

Q: What tools will be provided to students to ensure their success from home?

A: DPS families don’t have to go it alone. Every student who needs a Chromebook or hotspot for internet access will receive one through their school for the school year. Our staff is hard at work to ensure students are supported with these hardware tools as well the software that will drive student achievement.

Q: How do we keep students engaged in a remote learning environment?

A: We always reach our students best when we partner with families. We know that with partnership, high expectations, and engaging content, students will rise to the occasion. We are asking you to begin by finding the instructions to login to Canvas and create a parent account at and check your school’s website for updates about the start of year schedules. We will make sure our curriculum materials, live virtual classrooms, and assignments are engaging and utilize the power of technology to inspire your student. You can continue to monitor their progress, support, and maintain a consistent schedule.

Q: What social and emotional support will my child receive during remote learning?

A: It is important during remote learning that we continue to maintain connection as we deliver high quality content.  This is achieved by considering the social emotional competencies such as self-regulation and social awareness as they are integrated in remote learning daily. DPS has structured a creative schedule that allows for Wellness Wednesday, which is the opportunity for students to receive explicit social and emotional learning content and additional strategies that focuses on wellness from school counselors, social workers, restorative practices center coordinators and other school-based staff. 

Q: What can parents do to support their child while learning remotely during the first nine weeks of school?

A: While we know remote online learning will be new and the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged all of us to adapt, there are some positive outcomes for students and families engaging in online learning. If we work together, we can help your students to: 

  • become more independent and resilient learners,
  • advance their technology skills, 
  • be prepared for postsecondary education as it moves more toward online, and 
  • stay connected with peers and teachers through this challenging global crisis. 

You can help by keeping informed, following along in Canvas, and communicating regularly with your child’s teacher. Durham Public Schools is here to work toward achieving the best possible outcomes with your student and family during this time. We are in this together.