E-learning efficient way to deal with snow days

The Marshall Public School District is following the lead of few smaller school districts in the area and seriously considering implementing an e-learning days program to be used on scheduled school days during inclement weather.

An “e-learning day” means a school day where a school offers full access to online instruction provided by teachers because of inclement weather. In Minnesota, an e-learning day is counted as a day of instruction and included in the hours of instruction.

However, there are requirements placed on a district choosing to use e-learning days to offset losing school hours due to snowstorms. Minnesota statute allows for five e-learning days in one school year. The district must notify parents and students. And students must have access to teachers during normal school hours via email or phone.

What if a student doesn’t have access to internet or a device at home?

According to a staff report on the proposed program, students and parents without home device access or with limited internet access must contact the school office so modifications can be made. The student can obtain the assignment in a hard copy or electronic version during the next regular school day.

Under the proposed plan, e-learning will be used by all grades. Even early childhood students will receive some kind of activity to complete. The guidelines state that the goal is to provide meaningful activities that reinforce academic and social/emotional skills.

Individual planning teams will determine specific plans based on unique student needs for those with disabilities.

E-learning has worked for the Russell-Tyler-Ruthton School District and the Lakeview District. There is no reason to think that e-learning would not work for Marshall. The state has set up important guidelines for districts to follow. And district staff devised a solid plan for implementing e-learning.

A well-managed school district plans ahead for disruptive events such as severe weather. Last winter was brutal. Conditions were too dangerous for school buses on several days. Climate change factors suggest winters for years to come may be just as bad.

School board members are scheduled to vote on this plan in July. We urge the board to vote in favor of it.

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