By JEANIE LINDSEY
As the weather gets colder and tougher to navigate with ice and snow, many schools will likely use scheduled make-up days when kids can’t get to class. But more are using what’s called eLearning instead of cancelling school, and the state has made it easier for them to do so.
Kids do school work online on eLearning days, and they have become a popular option for school districts to avoid make-up days or extending the school year.
Department of Education spokesperson Adam Baker says the state no longer makes schools apply to use eLearning days, because as they get more technologically savvy, he says, the infrastructure to support those days is already in place.
“The more schools have shifted to a reliance on technology – in a good sense – the more schools already have the tools necessary to make eLearning a success,” Baker says.
More than 80 percent of school districts have students in some grade level assigned a laptop or tablet device for the school year, also known as having 1:1 status. According to the department, nearly half – 48 percent – have 1:1 device status across all grade levels.
Baker says the department connects schools hoping to use eLearning with guidance and points out different challenges they need to consider to ensure virtual school days benefit student the same way in-person days do.
But ultimately, districts choose when and how they deploy them – when schools use eLearning days, they don’t have to report it to the state since they’re classified like any other instructional day.
“We have as much trust in districts that they will treat e-Learning with the respect it deserves as they do any day,” Baker says.
Baker says eLearning poses challenges for different communities and families. He says the most common complaint about the growing use of eLearning from parents is access to childcare or supervision for their kids.