District evaluates recent push for e-learning days

This year the district has faced a number of snow and cold days brought on by the inclement weather. Although many students may praise a snow day, for teachers, especially AP teachers, a plethora of them could be reason for concern.
“Obviously, we must still ensure that students learn all of the concepts and skills required by the College Board,” said biology teacher Susan Remshak. “For me, this means I have to eliminate a four day project that was to have concluded with group presentations on human body systems. Students will still learn all of the information on body systems that will be on the AP exam, but I had to eliminate this supplemental activity. Sometimes I also ask students to learn material outside of class to make up for the lost instructional time.”
In response to the starting amount of inclement weather this year, some schools around Lake County have begun to implement alternative means to combat the school missed when weather compromises the safety of students and staff.
“As a teacher, I wish District 127 would take advantage of an opportunity to use e-learning days on inclement weather days as allowed by the Illinois State Board of Education,” Remshak said. “This would give us the ability to make sure students are learning and mastering course curriculum and not be interrupted by the weather.”
However, the process for implementing e-learning days is not as simple as it seems. The concept is still very new and arose when a piece of legislation mandating that students be physically in school for five hours for it to count as a school day, was revised. This allows schools to make their own judgements as to school days.
“I would love to implement e-learning days in Grayslake, but I want to make sure it is really clear what the expectations are and all the details that we need to make sure are right,” said Superintendent Dr. Mikkel Storaasli. “We didn’t want to just want to try it out with no plan because if it bombed, it would be harder to implement in the future.”
Prior to becoming the superintendent in District 127, Storaasli was the assistant superintendent at the Leydon School District. The Leydon School District was one of the first in the state to adopt e-learning days as part of a pilot program for the state before the law was loosened. As someone who has experience with the implementation of e-learning days, Storaasli warns that there are many factors to consider before implementing a similar program in Grayslake.
“We have to consider things like attendance. We have to report attendance to the state, but how do we do that if nobody is actually here,” Storaasli said. “We want it to be really clear where the instruction is or where the materials are so we don’t have seven teachers doing seven different things. We also have to take into account other factors that might influence students during a school emergency, like wifi might be down. We need to be flexible.”