FULTON, Ill. — Technological advances have changed the way many schools make up snow days, but not everyone is happy about it.
Two members of the River Bend School District Board of Education voted no Wednesday to a proposal to make up a snow day from home.
“[We’ve] already given ourselves pre-approval,” said Superintendent Daryl Hogue. The district has used the method before.
In October, Hogue sent out a letter to district parents informing them that the Illinois State Board of Education had given permission to districts to pursue e-learning and home-based learning to make up school days.
“At this point, the district is using the E-learning/Homebased-learning only to make up days that are added to the calendar to the already scheduled holidays,” the letter said. “The District uses the first three scheduled holidays in January, February, and the Monday following Easter as make-up days. The District has not moved forward with a full E-learning/Homebased schedule that would be conducted on the actual day that school is canceled.”
Hogue said in the letter that 77% of students and 81% of adults responded favorably to e-learning days.”The feedback from the staff and administrators was also positive.”
“We did talk to the staff,” Hogue said Wednesday, and the majority was in favor of making up the day missed because of snow Jan. 15 with an e-learning day Feb. 17. Special education teachers had some questions about service minutes, but 90% of teachers approved, Hogue said.
But board member Eric Fish was not supportive of the idea. “I personally don’t like it.” Students need to be in front of a teacher, he said.
At a time when schools in the United States have fallen behind schools in other countries academically, districts should be keeping students in class, not finding ways to meet the state’s mandatory attendance number with work-from-home days, Fish said. “I think nothing replaces time in front of the teacher.
“I appreciate all the work that’s gone into it, all the study,” Fish said, but, personally, he doesn’t like the practice.
“There’s more learning that goes on than in just the four walls of the classroom,” said board member Mary Simmons. “You can still learn at home.”
Yes, teachers are irreplaceable, said Simmons, but e-learning shows students that “education doesn’t shut off at 3:05.”
Board member Jane Orman Luker said she also is uncomfortable with the at-home learning option and would vote no on the e-learning make-up day.
The motion passed 4-2 with yes votes from Dan Portz, Jay Ritchie, Mary Simmons and Andrew Myers.
Illinois is one of several states that allows e-learning for make-up days. School districts on the Iowa side of the river don’t have the option.
“Schools aren’t allowed to do it to make up snow days in Iowa,” said Dan Peterson, superintendent of Central DeWitt Community School District. “I would love to have the ability to do this, and I’ve contacted our area state representatives to find out if they’d be willing to help make it possible.”
In Iowa, students must attend school 1080 hours or 180 days each year, but under Iowa Code, a day of school is a day during which the school or school district is in session and students are under the guidance and instruction of the instructional professional staff.
Fulton students will be required to complete assignments at home Feb. 17, either online or as home projects, based on teachers’ assignments.