School Life
Back to School 2020-21

Back to School 2020-21 - FAQ

List of 20 frequently asked questions.

  • How will in-person students be divided into cohorts?  Will existing cohorts (Middle Years, IGCSE, A Level) be divided?

    Right now, we are planning to keep established cohorts intact.  By utilizing an A/B schedule, we can reduce room populations to below 50% of the allowed occupancy. And, we are able to provide at least 6 feet of distance between students. The current plan is to host Middle Years students and A-Level students on (A) days and all of our IGCSE students on (B) days. We realize that for families with multiple students attending on different days, this plan may present some unique challenges. If you have questions or concerns about the A/B schedule, please reach out to Mike Twilling (
  • If routine testing for COVID through ASU is something that can be implemented as part of the Herberger Young Scholars Academy Pathway Back to School 2020-21, what method will be used (nasal or saliva)?

     If routine COVID testing through ASU is put in place for Herberger Young Scholars Academy students as one of our reopening practices, a non-invasive saliva test will be utilized. Follow this link for more information on how saliva tests for COVID work: ASU COVID 19 Saliva Testing
  • If enough students choose remote learning as their option, are more days at school possible for in person students?

    Based on the data we have collected so far, more than half of our students are planning to begin the year in-person. The challenge, here, is that we need to keep room occupancies low, and, at the same time, keep cross contact between Herberger Young Scholars Academy cohorts (Middle Years, IGCSE, A-Level) to a minimum. This is more relevant as students transition to their afternoon schedules. Because math, spanish, and electives are made up of a mixture of students from different cohorts, it becomes very difficult to maintain the integrity of our "Trusted Cohorts" if we increase the number of students, and cohorts, in the building. Under our current live/hybrid/blended model, having blended classes in the afternoon, with some students learning at home, we can keep our student groupings very consistent and small, which translates into a safer environment for everyone.

    We are currently working to see if there is a possibility of using an ASU classroom outside of the Herberger Young Scholars Academy building to host HYSA students on their remote learning days. This would mean that students, even when they are scheduled for a remote learning day, could still come to school and be provided a safe, socially-distanced space to attend their remote classes. We will keep you posted on any developments related to this plan.
  • I am unable to provide a stable internet connection for my student at home? What are my options?

    We can also provide students with a Verizonhotspot to utilize at home for any school related activities. If you think you will need internet support in the form of a hotspot, please let us know by completing the following request form: HYSA Internet Support: Hotspot Request Form.

    All information provided will be kept private.
  • Will you be continuing some form of Wednesday enrichment?

    Wednesday morning enrichment has been an important part of our HYSA program.  Anyone who attended last year's performances of Romeo and Juliet or The Crucible can attest to the powerful effect this time had on our students. Even so, we know that to be successful this year, we need to keep things as simple and flexible as we can, at least to start. We are not planning to open the year having Wednesday morning enrichment as part of the schedule. As things settle and conditions change, we will revisit this discussion.
  • How will math be structured?

    Students will attend math class five days a week. Some of these days will be in-person, and some of these days they will be joining synchronously from home. Specific math classes are only offered at set times, so students will have to enroll in their math course for the time it is offered. This year, math will be part of the afternoon schedule, which also includes spanish and electives.
  • What is a trusted cohort and how does this approach help keep HYSA students, staff, and families safe?

    In the HYSA Pathway Back to School 2020-21 plan that was sent out last week, there was mention of a "trusted cohort" model. The idea of the trusted cohort is that, as community members, we look out for one another and do our best to protect the health and safety of everyone in our cohort. Part of this agreement includes families adhering to the safety guidelines that were included in the plan to reopen. For example, families should be checking students for symptoms daily and keeping students home when they are not feeling well. Families are also expected to practice safe behaviors outside of school, including wearing masks in public and limiting contact with others. One of the most important aspects of the trusted cohort model is timely reporting and self-quarantining if a student or family member has come in contact with someone who has COVID. These, and many other safety and health practices are integral in providing the necessary protection our students need to return to school in the safest possible manner. Most of these practices are not easily monitored from the side of the school, so our hope and expectation is that all HYSA families follow these protocols as closely as possible and that we do everything we can to ensure the safety and health of each other by not knowingly putting ourselves at risk, thereby putting others at risk as well. The trusted cohort extends beyond the students at school and includes all members of the HYSA community. More specific information, such as the daily health checklist for in-person students, will be available soon.
  • What happens when a student or staff member tests positive?

    Following CDC guidelines, anyone who has come in contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID should self-quarantine for at least 14 days or until they can be tested for COVID themselves. In the event that a student or staff member tests positive, HYSA will follow CDC protocol. We will switch to a fully remote model for fourteen days or until all students can be tested.  Whether this will include the exposed cohort or the entire school will depend on the specific conditions of the exposure. We are currently working with ASU on the possibility of having our students tested on a regular, ongoing basis. Following contact with a COVID positive individual or after receiving notification of COVID positive test results for any student or staff member, we are hoping to be able to quickly verify the COVID status of the rest of our students and staff through access to ASU COVID testing. We will keep you up to date and informed on developments related to student testing.
  • If my student attends remotely, will they have access to elective classes?

    All students, whether in-person or remote at home, will have full access to their core classes, math, and foreign language.  We are currently working on the electives schedule for the fall. Herberger Young Scholars Academy students usually have one elective class each afternoon. Electives follow a M, T, Th and a W, F rotation, so students usually attend two different electives during the course of the week. Because many of the electives Herberger Young Scholars Academy typically offers, for example the very hands-on, materials oriented class Design Lab, do not translate well to a remote learning mode, the original thought was not to offer electives as part of the remote learning experience. Herberger Young Scholars Academy understands, however, that we do need to provide these critical opportunities for our gifted students to explore their personal interests and to connect with others who share those interests. Here are some of the options we are working on to provide both opportunity and choice for our remote learners:
    •      Herberger Young Scholars Academy will offer at least one elective designed specifically for remote learners
    •        Remote learners will have access to electives that work well as blended classes, such as Drama or Drawing
    •      Remote learners can choose to utilize their elective period as personal productivity time, focusing on their core studies with support from Herberger Young Scholars Academy staff
    •      Remote learners use this time as a screen break and engage in other activities (exercise, etc)
    •      Some combination of the above options
  • Will there be any extracurricular or after-school opportunities for students?

    HYSA fully understands the importance of nurturing friendships and personal connections for our gifted students, especially during a time when so many students feel isolated from each other. We will continue to offer as many opportunities for students to connect with each other as we can, while still keeping a focus on safety and wellness. Clubs, such as the Thespian club, are already planning events for the fall (It has been confirmed from a reliable source that the annual costume event will happen, even if it has to happen remotely). Events such as Musical Interlude and Poetry Out Loud are also already in the planning stages. To minimize time in the building, all after school clubs will have to start the year using remote meetings, but, where there is a will, there is a way. So, if you ran a club last year and are interested in starting things up again, please let Mr. Twilling know.
  • What is ASU doing to help prepare HYSA for a return to school?

    ASU has been working very closely with Herberger Young Scholars Academy in developing plans and protocols designed to welcome our students back under the safest possible conditions. Here is the latest update on facility modifications and COVID-related supplies and materials being provided by Arizona State University:
    HVAC Update:
    • Herberger Young Scholars Academy building air filters being replaced with the highest MERV rated filter available. The system is also being modified for the highest amount of fresh air intake.
    Building entry:
    •  Free standing temperature kiosk will be added to at least one building entrance.
     Sanitation stations:
    • Kits with the following items will be placed in all Herberger Young Scholars Academy classrooms and conference rooms: paper towels, disinfectant, gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, disposable masks (in case if one breaks), antiviral tissues. 
    • Free standing sanitizer stations for each classroom.
    • Clean Gear in 1 gallon spray bottle to be used to spray down outside seating and sports equipment. 
    Community of care kits:
    • Individual student and staff kits including: personal thermometer, 2 ASU face coverings, hand sanitizer, wipes and a care info card.
    • Face shields for all of your students and staff as needed.
    Remote learning technology:
    Owl 360° cameras for all learning spaces, so that remote learners have full access to their classrooms.
  • If carpooling with members of the same A/B schedule, are they already considered "part of your bubble' and will carpools pose any problems with staggered start times?

    For the purposes of the Trusted Cohort model, all students who belong to Group A, for example, will be considered to be in the same trusted group.We know that some students will have to carpool to school together. That is fine. If they are carpooling together, they must belong to the same "Trusted Cohort" anyway. And ,we will have to be flexible with the staggered drop-off, knowing that commute times vary from day to day. We will have to see what this looks like during our initial week back, and it is very likely that modifications to this process will be necessary.
  • Do families have to commit to either in-person or remote learning for any period of time or can students switch between the two modes?

    If the last six months have taught us anything, it is that conditions can change quickly.  As needs or conditions change, families need flexibility to make the decisions they feel are in their best interest.  HYSA students will be able to transition from remote learning at home to in-person instructionin the classroom, and vice versa, as necessary.  Families do not have to commit to either in-person or remote learning for any given length of time. To allow for this kind of flexibility, we will need the ongoing support from our parents in helping us track student attendance. We are asking that parents report all student absences prior to 9:00 a.m., even for students learning remotely from home when they will not be logging on for the day.
  • In the past, HYSA has allowed students to stay after school until 4:30 p.m. Is this still the policy for the upcoming school year?

    As of right now, and as long as we think we can keep students properly distanced and safely supervised, we think we will still be able to extend this courtesy to families. Again, we will keep you posted on any updates or changes to this plan.
  • Will the temperature checks be conducted in a way that there is no contact (infrared)?

    Yes. A walk-up temperature kiosk has been installed at one of the entrances to Herberger Young Scholars Academy. Students simply look at the kiosk's screen on their way into the building. There is no contact. An Herberger Young Scholars Academy staff member will also be taking student temperatures prior to students exiting their cars during morning drop-off using an infrared temperature reader (no touch). Student temperatures will also be monitored throughout the day using infrared temperature readers.
  • I am confused about the "in person" option. Don't you mean hybrid, as in students will attend half time and be online half time?

    Because HYSA is offering such a multilayered approach, this can be confusing, even for us. So let's start with the schedule. As it stands right now, students will be divided into two cohorts, either A or B. In the following example, the letter listed (A or B) indicates which cohort will be at school, or in-person.  The letter that is not listed indicates that this cohort will be at home participating in our synchronous remote learning program for that day.

                        Monday          Tuesday          Wednesday          Thursday          Friday
    Week 1:           A                      A                         B                           A                    B
    Week 2:           B                      B                         A                           B                    A

    Based on the schedule shown above, for Monday, Week 1, a student who belongs to Cohort A has the option to be at school, in-person. This same student (Cohort A) can also choose to stay at home and take part in the "live" classroom, synchronously, via ZOOM and with the support of a specialized 360° camera system that we will be using this fall. This would be an example of a blended classroom, meaning there will be students in the classroom, as well as students participating in the exact same lesson remotely from home (by choice). On this same day, all Cohort B students will be learning remotely in a synchronous, teacher-led, virtual classroom space during the morning, and then taking part, again remotely, in blended classes during the afternoon (math, spanish, electives).  Cohorts will rotate as indicated by the schedule.
  • If students are not attending "live" school full time, is there any plan to reduce tuition?

    The actual cost per student attending HYSA is approximately $27,000 per year. A large portion of this cost is paid through a very generous endowment by the Herberger family. The rest of the cost, $13,000, is paid by families. The cost per student, regardless of whether classes are taught remotely or in person, remains the same. In fact, it is even more expensive to teach remotely when the cost of the necessary technology and specialized support is taken into account. Over 80% of our budget is allocated to payroll and all of our faculty still need to be paid to teach, whether it is online or in person.
    While we will not be reducing tuition, we do offer scholarships for our families who need tuition assistance. All families are also eligible to apply to the many student tuition organizations for funds to offset the cost of tuition. If you are interested please visit, fill out an application, and read the information on how to utilize these funding opportunities.
  • Will cohorts be broken down further than the entire class such as IGCSE 1 being separated in multiple classrooms?

    At Herberger Young Scholars Academy we have always used the term cohort to reference the particular level at which a student is currently working, such as the Middle Years cohort or the IGCSE cohort. During COVID, we are also using the term cohort to reference what we are calling a "Trusted Cohort", or those students who will be in the Herberger Young Scholars Academy building together on the same days. 

    As discussed in the last FAQs email, as of right now,
    TrustedCohort A consists of both A-Level students and Middle Years students.  

    Cohort B consists of all our IGCSE students, both IGCSE 1 and IGCSE 2. Keeping with ASU's protocol that room occupancy be capped at 50% of the maximum, and also allowing for at least 6 feet of distance between students in a classroom, we are still able to keep our Herberger Young Scholars Academy cohorts together. As things are right now, we are not planning to break Herberger Young Scholars Academy established cohorts into smaller groupings.
  • How will the drop off and pick up be staggered?

    We are still working out the details on this, but we will keep it very simple. It will probably be something as simple as structuring a 20 minute window (or so) during which a specific Herberger Young Scholars Academy cohort (Middle Years for example) can be dropped off. After 20 minutes is up, the drop off window for the next cohort begins.
  • Can Herberger Young Scholars Academy really provide a safe learning space for students?

    In everything we are doing, we are simply trying to minimize the risks involved with having students come back to school. While we can minimize risk, we cannot eliminate it all together.
The Gary K. Herberger Young Scholars Academy seeks and accepts students for admission without reference to race, color, religion, age, disability, national and ethnic origin, sexual orientation, or gender. Admissions and financial aid decisions are made independently.