Leyden High Schools Implements An E-Learning Day In Lieu of A Traditional Snow Day

Leyden High School District 212 is implementing the E-Learning Day program tomorrow, Friday, February 9, that allows the District to provide electronic instruction for students when Illinois schools are closed because of inclement weather such as snow tomorrow.

The e-learning day is a better option than adding a day at the end of the school year, such as traditional snow days.

For the past seven years, District 212 students have been issued a Chromebook for use in school and at home. It is this access and connectivity to the Internet that makes the e-school day program viable. For students who don’t have Internet access at home, the district is providing a solution through the Sprint ConnectEd grant. district-owned WiFi hotspots are provided to students, and Sprint is providing four years of free Internet access.

During an e-learning day, students check into each class via a Google generated form and teachers submit attendance records electronically.

Teachers’ lessons are available online, and students have complete access to information and resources, as well as the capability to submit their work electronically.

The work is relevant, meaningful and manageable, but students are not expected to complete 48 minutes of classwork and 30 minutes of homework for each class on an e-learning day.

An e-learning day is essentially a virtual “snow” day.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a measure into law that created a pilot program for virtual learning days in schools. The idea was to keep snow or emergency days to a minimum during the school year.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the bill into law on July 30 that will establish a pilot program aimed at utilizing technology to make school snow days obsolete.

House Bill 2781 establishes a three-year pilot program under which up to three school districts can develop e-learning programs to be implemented on schools’ emergency days.

Instead of having de facto vacation days that need to be tacked on to the end of the school year anyway – often after students have completed exams and have no curriculum left – online courses could keep students engaged in their current material even when school facilities are closed for inclement weather.

Schools in other northern states, such as Minnesota and Ohio, have already begun the push toward virtual school days on what would otherwise be snow days.

This pilot program will generate information on the best strategies for implementing online learning programs and help Illinois’ students stay on track with their studies when it matters – not after the school year has effectively ended.

State Sen. Michael Connelly, R-Wheaton, and state Rep. Mike Fortner, R-Springfield, sponsored the bill; Illinois Policy Action supported the measure.

The Illinois State Board of Education chose Leyden High School as one of the pilot school districts.

The three districts chosen for the e-learning days pilot program are all in the Chicago suburbs: Gurnee School District 56, Community High School District 94 in West Chicago, and Leyden High School District 212 in Franklin Park. Illinois State Board of Education officials say those three districts were the only ones that applied to participate in the program.

Now when the pilot districts think about cancelling school for a weather emergency, they have an option to just cancel the day. And now they have … that second option to call that day an e-learning day.

Currently, Illinois schools are allowed five emergency days per year. Now the law gives schools a maximum of five e-learning days on top of that, and one e-learning day means five hours of online coursework within that day.

All Illinois school districts were able to apply for the pilot program. The application process involved answering questions about things like accommodations for students with disabilities, monitoring student participation and internet access from home.

A program like Leyden High Schools that supplies laptops or tablets for students wasn’t necessary to apply, but it definitely helped.

For a district that did not have a 1:1 technology initiative, it would’ve been almost impossible to have an e-learning day if you’re asking the students to have an electronic platform.

West Chicago Community High School started a one-to-one technology initiative, meaning every student was issued a Chromebook laptop.

Leyden High School district, has had a one-to-one Chromebook initiative has been in place since 2012.

Illinois Report Card says about 2,000 students within the Leyden district are low-income. And about 17 percent of surveyed students didn’t have internet access at home.

A ConnectED grant from Sprint and the White House gives free Internet access to students that need it at Leyden High Schools.

Gurnee School District 56, which has pre-kindergarten through eighth grades, every student there receives an iPad.

About royfmc

BS in Environmental Engineering from Northwestern University's McCormick College of Engineering MBA from DePaul University's Kellstadt's College of Business JD from DePaul University's College of Law Website: www.attorneymccampbell.com
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