Barrington District 220 to consider replacing snow days with e-learning
Barrington Area Unit District 220 plans to host a public hearing Oct. 1 to discuss a proposal for electronic learning on days school is closed due to extreme cold, major snowstorms or other emergencies.
Commonly known as e-learning, it involves students using electronic devices to do their classroom work away from school. At District 220, e-learning would be part of an overall distance learning program that doesn't require the use of a device for all assignments.
Officials said the public hearing will focus only on the e-learning portion of the remote education plan.
District 220 Superintendent Brian Harris said at a recent school board meeting that e-learning discussions began in the 2018-19 academic year, when classes were canceled four times due to inclement weather and makeup days extended the school year into June.
"It did create a lot of significant challenges with our activities and events and graduations at the middle school level," Harris said. "And all types of different things got impacted at the end of the year."
Under the tentative proposal at District 220, teachers would post e-learning opportunities by 9 a.m. on an emergency day off from school starting this year. Students would have five school days to complete their classroom assignments.
Prompted by a state law enacted in June, District 220 is among the school systems forming remote education plans. While proponents say e-learning can eliminate the need to add days to the end of the scheduled school year, critics, including some teachers unions, contend instructors should be present for students' learning.
District 220 officials say the distance learning proposal was formed with input from the Barrington Education Association teachers union and the Barrington School District Employee Organization, which represents educational support professionals.
John Bruesch, the district's assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, said the remote instruction program won't replace "actual seat time" in a classroom for students.
The General Assembly's decision to allow schools to hold e-learning days on snow days followed a three-year, state-run pilot program in Gurnee Elementary District 56, West Chicago Community High School District 94 and Franklin Park-based Leyden High School District 212.
Under the District 220 timeline, the school board would vote Oct. 15 on whether to use e-learning as part of the overall distance learning plan. Officials said the Lake County Regional Board of Education already has verified that it meets its criteria, such as addressing students' ability to participate and ensuring five hours of instruction.