District 103 crafting e-learning program in response to pandemic

As the number of COVID-19 virus cases grows in the suburbs, Lincolnshire-Prairie View Elementary District 103 officials are hastily developing an electronic learning program so students can continue lessons remotely if the buildings shut down.

The effort, which will make use of the iPad tablets all first- through eighth-graders already possess, will be ready to implement "very shortly," Superintendent Scott Warren said - likely within days.

"We thought it would be a really good idea for us to have a plan in place," Warren said Thursday, one day after Lake County health officials announced the county's first COVID-19 case.

E-learning programs are designed to ensure education continues despite snowstorms, frigid weather or other emergencies that could force building closures. Proponents say the programs can eliminate the need to add days to the end of the scheduled school year.

In Illinois, e-learning efforts were legalized last summer after a three-year, state-run test program in Gurnee Elementary District 56, West Chicago High School District 94 and Franklin Park-based Leyden High School District 212. Teachers and students used texts, online chat rooms and other electronic tools to communicate and get work done.

Mundelein-based Fremont Elementary District 79, Barrington Area Unit District 220, Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 and Mundelein High are among the suburban schools that have embraced the e-learning concept.

District 103 officials began developing an e-learning program last week - about the same time state education officials recommended educators across Illinois prepare for building closures, Warren said.

The planning is fairly easy, Warren said, because students at the three District 103 schools already use their iPads to submit work online, email teachers, watch videos and fill out report sheets. Some of that work is done in the classroom, and some of it is done at home.

District 103 teachers were expected to meet Thursday to discuss the program. Additionally, an emergency school board meeting to discuss the COVID-19 virus was scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the District 103 office, 111 Barclay Blvd., Lincolnshire.

A state-mandated public hearing on the plan is scheduled for 9 a.m. March 20 at the district office.

Fremont District 79 officials are ready to switch to electronic education if their three schools close because of the virus, spokesman Nick Brilowski said. Superintendent Bill Robertson has been regularly communicating with other Lake County administrators and the county health department since the outbreak began.

"We are appropriately prepared should the decision be made to cancel classes," Brilowski said.

Students at Mundelein, Libertyville and Vernon Hills high schools have been told to take their Chromebook computers home each night in case the schools are shuttered, too.

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Lincolnshire-Prairie View Elementary District 103 Superintendent Scott Warren
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