District 220 moves ahead with idea of replacing snow days with e-learning
Barrington Area Unit District 220 is expected to have the option of using electronic learning on days school is closed due to extreme cold, major snowstorms or other emergencies.
District 220 school board members voted 7-0 after a public hearing Tuesday night to approve a verification form for e-learning, which was required for it to be part of an overall distance learning program. Board members will consider approving the entire package at a meeting Oct. 15.
Officials said the broad distance learning program won't require the use of a computer, tablet or other device for all assignments.
Superintendent Brian Harris said students doing their classroom assignments from home would have an opportunity to gain a skill that's become common in the business world. He said he'd have the option of deciding whether to call off classes due to poor weather or other emergencies and add a day to the school calendar, or use the remote learning program.
"I just want to remind the board that we have put together, I believe, the best plan in the state of Illinois," Harris said. "We've looked at many places."
Under the plan, 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 pursuing 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.
Speaking at public comment time Tuesday, Barrington High School senior Martin Wauson voiced his concern about being expected to work at home if classes are canceled.
"I also personally believe most kids won't do the work that day," Wauson said. "Coming as a student, we're probably just going to ignore whatever work we get that day and do it in the five days allotted to us. And so I think that is just going to add a lot of homework load that we already don't need. We have lots of homework piling up."
District 220 officials say the distance learning program was formed with input from the Barrington Education Association teachers union and the Barrington School District Employee Organization, which represents educational support professionals.
The General Assembly's decision to allow schools to hold e-learning days followed a three-year, state-run test program in Gurnee Elementary District 56, West Chicago Community High School District 94 and Franklin Park-based Leyden High School District 212.