A. Linwood Holton Governor's School

Frequently Asked Questions

Search from the list below for the answer to your question and/or problem. All questions & answers are arranged by topic, with each question placed in its "best" topic category. Since category placement is sometimes debatable, please look at other topics/categories if you do not find your question where you would expect.

If your question is not listed, ask. To do so, please send an email to support@hgs.k12.va.us. Give as much detail as possible, and be sure to include the topic/category of your question in the email subject line.

This page is a work in progress. Some answers are "answer to be added". Also, additional questions and answers will be added over the weeks ahead.

If you are looking for an answer to an administrative or policy question - e.g., "Am I eligible to apply to ALHGS?", an About ALHGS FAQ page is in development. A link to it will be posted here in the near future.


HGS Information Technology Services provides support for the Governor’s School's software, services, and systems. If you have a problem with a HGS student service (e.g., email), please look for an answer within this FAQ list. If you are not successful in finding a solution or the problem persists, please submit an HGS Information Technology Services Help Desk Ticket.

If your problem is with your home computer, please seek out someone near your location who may be able to help you. Unfortunately we cannot provide support for home hardware and/or software.

If your problem is with a computer at your school - e.g., cannot reach a web page - please contact the appropriate technical support person at your school.

If you have a question about dual enrollment, HGS admission, and/or other administrative aspects of HGS, please see the FAQ page located here. Administrative FAQ Page COMING SOON

You can access pages of the Governor's School web site with almost any device using a modern web browser with JavaScript active. While Microsoft browsers (e.g., Internet Explorer 11 and up) may work with most HGS web pages, it is strongly recommended that you use either Mozilla's Firefox or Google's Chrome browser. (Most browsers install with JavaScript active.)

You can play archived class recordings of HGS classes using almost any device running a modern web browser with, again, Firefox and/or Chrome strongly recommended. (You may need to install an app if using an iOS or Android device to access web pages wherein daily class recordings are posted.)

To attend a HGS Virtual School class, client software is no longer required. Most devices running the current version of Firefox or Chrome can be used. If your are using an older version of either browser, you will need to update the browser to the most recent release.

An ITS Help Desk Ticket is an on-line form, which you would complete if you have a HGS service and/or HGS account problem that you cannot resolve through a search of this FAQ page or by other means. The ticket is a way of communicating your problem to HGS Technical Support.

When you submit the Help Desk Ticket form, the information is sent to HGS Technical Support. After submission, please allow one business day for a reply.

Looking for the link to the Information Technology Services Help desk Ticket form? It is here: Help Desk Ticket


Both the userName and password to log into your HGS Virtual School and your HGS student email account are identical. That is, one enters the same log-in information for both accounts. If you can log into one account, you should be able to log into the other account using the same information.

Carefully enter your userName and password when trying to enter your "problem" account. If after several carefully typed attempts you still cannot log into your account, please submit an Information Technology Services Help Desk Ticket.

If you can log into your class but cannot log into your HGS email account a couple of days after you attended HGS Orientation, it is very likely that the password you requested during Orientation does not meet the requirements you were instructed to observe (See an FAQ question/answer listed herein for details of HGS system password requirements). Thus, while your HGS email account is probably active, the password associated with the account meets HGS password requirements and, therefore, is not the one you requested. You will need to submit an Information Technology Services Help Desk Ticket. Prior to submitting the ticket, you should review HGS password format requirements. See the Accounts section of this FAQ page for the related question and answer.

You cannot change your HGS Virtual School, HGS email, ALHGS Microsoft Classroom, or ALHGS Google Classroom passwords.

If you have a compelling reason to have your password changed, please submit an Information Technology Services Help Desk Ticket.

Please submit Information Technology Services Help Desk Ticket detailing your problem.

Your userName and password created during HGS Orientation can only be used to access accounts on HGS servers and/or software controlled by the Governor's School: the Virtual School, HGS student email, any password protected pages on the HGS website, ALHGS Microsoft, and ALHGS Google.

You need to create an account for Coursesites or other non-HGS site (such as Piazza), which you will manage. You will set/decide the userName and password for your Coursesites account.

If you have a problem with your Coursesites and/or Piazza or other non-HGS site account required for your class, you should contact your instructor. They have limited access to your login information, and may be able to help. If your instructor cannot help, you will need to contact the software hosting organization.

Student accounts for ALHGS Microsoft and ALHGS Google are created at the request of your instructor. If your instructor has not requested accounts for their class, then you will not have an account in either ALHGS Microsoft and/or ALHGS Google

If an account has been set-up for you in either ALHGS Google and/or ALHGS Microsoft, your userName will be your ALHGS email address (e.g., userName@hgs.k12.va.us). Your password will be the same password you use to log into the ALHGS Virtual School and ALHGS student email.

For example, Susan Default, whose userName is sdefault and password 5Ft$6Kbz*9, would log into ALHGS Microsoft and/or ALHGS Google using

userName: sdefault@hgs.k12.va.us
password: 5Ft$6Kbz*9

ALHGS Microsoft log-in page: https://portal.office.com
ALHGS Google log-in page:https://www.google.com/accounts/Login

The Governor's School requires the password used to access HGS services and systems to meet strict "strength" requirements. HGS passwords must be what is commonly referred to as strong.

For a password to be considered strong, it must ...

  • Be a minimum of 8 characters, maximum of 14 characters in length
  • Contain at least two Capital Letters (e.g., A, G, K), and
  • Contain at least two Lower Case Letters (e.g., a, g, k), and
  • Contain at least two Numbers (e.g., 1,2,3), and
  • Contain at least two Special Characters (e.g., $, %, &, *).

Passwords cannot ...

  • Contain any personal information (e.g., no phone number, DOB, school name, nicknames, etc.)
  • Be the word password
  • Be profane
  • Be the same as your userName
  • Contain a '.', a period.

At the end of each academic year all student information and student accounts are deleted from HGS systems. If you attended HGS during a past academic year, that account is no more and all information associated with that account (e.g., emails) no longer exists.

Having attended fall semester orientation and subsequently dropped all HGS fall semester classes, if you elect to attend an HGS spring semester class during the same academic year, you will need to request a new account. Accounts of students who drop all of their HGS classes during any semester are generally closed immediately after the student drops.

ALHGS Virtual School

Yes. The software used for the ALHGS Virtual School/Virtual Classroom supports Windows based and Apple OS desktop and laptop products, as well as most other Android and iOS devices.

As long as you have high speed Internet and using a computer running a current version of either the Firefox and/or Chrome browser. However, please check with your school first. Your school may have a policy that requires you to be on-site, at your high school, when you attend an HGS class. That is, you must obtain your school’s permission before taking a class from home on a daily basis.

Typically all schools allow students to take a class from home if the school is closed for a holiday or due to inclement weather and/or if the student is sick. Nevertheless, it is always best to check your school's policy at the beginning of your HGS class term.

The HGS Virtual School and Virtual Classroom are browser based software products. As such, there is no software to download. The software "runs" within the browser automatically upon one logging into either the HGS Virtual School or HGS Virtual Classroom.

Yes. The HGS Virtual School/Classroom software supports both iOS and Android devices. Depending upon the product used, there may be an app, that must be installed to have access to the full features of the HGS Virtual School/Classroom

Yes. HGS site video is streamed within your browser in compliance with current web standards.

Visit your class recording archive page. Once there, click on the PLAY RECORDING link for the time and date of the recording you wish to watch. A browser window will open and the recording will begin to buffer. Once loaded, play will begin immediately in the browser window.

Please Note: depending upon your Internet connection speed and the recording file size, buffering of the recording may take as little as a few seconds to as long as 10 plus minutes.

The recordings will play in any modern browser that supports Flash. (Currently, all desktop computer and laptop computer browsers support Flash.)

No. The recordings may be watched in any modern web browser (e.g., Chrome, Firefox, IE, and Safari) on either a PC or MAC. (The browser must have the Flash plug-in, which is a part of most browsers by default.)

You can use any modern web browser. Some find that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) works best with the HGS Virtual Classroom software.

Nevertheless, the best browsers to use with the ALHGS web site are Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome.

The Governor’s School Virtual School software does not allow private chat between students.

Yes. Go to the…..TO BE ADDED

Please Note: you need the HGS Virtual School client software (iLinc 11.2 - the software required to attend the virtual school/class each day) installed on the laptop/desktop you wish to use to view the Powerboard (a.k.a. whiteboard) file. At this time, printing of Powerboard pages is not an option for the proprietary format used to create them.


Check Windows OS audio settings: make sure the volume level for your listening device (speakers/headset) AND applications are not set to mute or not set to a very low level. Set the volume level to your comfort level.

If Windows audio levels are set high, not low or mute, and you cannot hear, make sure your headset is plugged into the computer jacks correctly and that the plug(s) is “all the way in” the jack(s).

You can also run the Audio Wizard within the ALHGS Virtual Classroom. This will allow you to check if the headset software is “talking to” the classroom software. If the Audio Wizard indicates that the virtual school/classroom software is not “seeing” your headset, and you have checked the computer audio settings (see above) and have checked the physical connection of the headsets to your machine, and you still cannot hear, ask for help at your school. Please inform the appropriate technical person at your school of your audio problem.

There is no technical reason they cannot be used. However, use of audio devices other than a headset with mic will yield a very poor user experience. For example, an audio configuration using external speakers could make it impossible for you to talk to your instructor during class due to "feedback" and/or it will be like "walkie-talkie" communication. HGS ITS strongly recommends that you always use a headset (with mic) when attending any ALHGS class. You should use the RCA jack type headset that was loaned to you during your HGS Orientation session, or a UBS headset.

Some newer systems at schools no longer have RCA jacks, the type of connection required by the headsets distributed by the Governor’s School during orientation. If this is true of the computers at your school, please ask the appropriate technical support person at your school for an alternative headset and/or connection device that will work with the RCA plug headset loaned to you by HGS. If they do not have an alternative, please submit an Information Technology Services Help Desk Ticket.

Please ask the appropriate technical person at your school if they have a solution. Some schools have loaner USB headsets for student use and/or USB converter plugs that allow the use of a RCA jack type headset (like the headset loaned to you during Orientation) with UBS or single plug type connection.

If your school does not have a solution, please submit an Information Technology Services Help Desk Ticket.

This could be caused by a short in your headset cord, a problem with your computer’s audio card, a poor connect between headset plugs and the computer's RCA jacks, an Internet connection problem, or low available bandwidth.

Please ask the appropriate technical support person at your school to check your connection.


Check that you have not set policy so they are appearing in your email Junk Mail folder. That is, look in your Junk Mail folder.

If the emails are sent by the instructor through Coursesites, then the emails are sent to the email address you entered at the time you set up your Coursesites account. When Coursesites is used by your instructor to send emails, the emails are NOT automatically sent to your HGS account. Thus, check the email account you have associated with Coursesites.

If after checking your junk mail folder and any account you have associated with Coursesites and you are still not seeing instructor sent emails, please submit an Information Technology Services Help Desk Ticket.

Yes. To use this feature:

  • Connect using your e-mail address and password
  • Once connected, the setup and access should be automatic by using the auto discover feature of the phone. (Auto discover is active on the HGS email server)
  • If connecting manually, use holtonmail.hgs.k12.va.us as the server name.

Unfortunately, due to variation in phones, OS of phone systems, etc., we cannot offer any advice and/or support beyond the above for smartphone e-mail access.

Please Note: depending upon your connection, when connecting for the first time using your phone, you may have to log into your email entering hgs\userName rather than using just userName. Password entry remains unchanged.


Yes. The recordings should play on a Mac within any modern browser (e.g., Chrome, Firefox, Safari).

The Flash plug-in, a part of all modern browsers by default, must be active. Checking to see that it is active should only be done if one is having trouble playing an archived class recording.

Unfortunately, No. The software used for the ALHGS Virtual School/Virtual Classroom does not currently “run” on any Apple product.

You can, however, use your Apple Mac computer with HGS email, to play recordings, and access all other HGS accounts and/or related accounts.

Unfortunately we cannot help with home computers or other personal devices.

Hopefully you have a back-up of your files. If not, in the future, we strongly recommend that you have a back-up of your files, typically on a separate device.

First, check with the technical person at your school. Some schools have the use of USB drives blocked because of the ease with which they may be used to transit a virus.

If you find that your school does not block USB drives and the USB drive remains unrecognized when plugged into a school computer, test it with several other computers, including a "non-school" machine if possible.

If having done all of the above and trying to access the USB drive still fails, please submit an Information Technology Services Help Desk Ticket. Please provide details of your testing of the USB drive, and the behavior observed.


You cannot change the in-class photo. You may, however, request that the photo be changed by sending a replacement current photo of yourself. The replacement photo must be a recent portrait type photograph.

The composition of the photograph must be similar to the example shown above, having adequate space around the head to allow for editing and have a plain "non-busy" background. No other individuals or pets can be visible in the photo. Any logo, name, or trademark visible on clothing or elsewhere will be edited out of a photo accepted for use as a replacement.

The replacement photo you submit must also meet the following requirements:

  • not a "selfie"
  • jpeg format
  • minimum image size of 500X500 pixels
  • minimum image file size of 350 KB
  • an email attachment when sent, not an embedded file

Email the replacement jpeg photograph as an attachment to HGS Support, support@hgs.k12.va.us, e-mail subject line: Replacement Photo: your-full-legal-name.

Please check your email after sending the replacement photo. We will reply as to the suitability of the photo you submitted. (Sending a replacement photo does not guarantee that it will be used.)

The Governor’s School has setup education accounts with both Google and Microsoft. Both Google and Microsoft provides services that may be used by your class instructor in association with your class. If your instructor uses either service with your class, they will inform you which of these services they use, and you will be able to log into the appropriate service. (An account will have been created for you for one or both services if your instructor uses either or both.)

If your instructor uses either, your account userName will be the same as your full HGS email address (i.e., userName@hgs.k12.va.us). The password will be the same as the one you use to log into the HGS Virtual School.

ALHGS Microsoft log-in page: https://portal.office.com
ALHGS Google log-in page:https://www.google.com/accounts/Login

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