New flexibility has been afforded us by the State of Illinois in dealing with inclement weather and emergency days. This, along with the extraordinary year we are experiencing, has led us to develop a plan to incorporate “E- Learning Days” at Prairie Central for the first FIVE Emergency Days (snow days) this school year.
In the past, if a snow day were utilized, an “instructional day” was added to the end of the school year. While this has worked in the past, we do not believe additional days on the end of our school year will be beneficial for students due to the added stressors of the pandemic and constraints on our “normal” school days.
What is an E-Learning Day??
An “E-Learning Day” allows us to provide an “instructional day” even if our buildings are not open due to weather/road conditions/etc. If weather does not permit us to be in session, we will deploy an “E-Learning Day.” On these days, students and teachers will work from home. Teachers will e-mail and/or post assignments, lessons, and enrichment activities to parents and/or students at their regularly-scheduled class times, using the learning platforms that are normally used during an in-person learning day. There will be lessons and assignments established by teachers that allow for students to complete work while at home, either electronically or by “paper and pencil”. Teachers will be available via e-mail and other methods of communication commonly used by specific teachers to answer questions as they arise with teachers checking messages on an ongoing basis during regularly-scheduled student hours.
How will this look at each grade level?
Teachers will work to develop lessons that are grade level appropriate and a continuation of what has been happening in the classroom. It is the expectations of the state that students work through these items just as if they were in school, meeting the five hours of instructional seat time required. Lessons will vary by teacher, content area, and grade level.
*Examples could include activities such as a review of content, a reinforcement activity, a video introduction to a unit or concept, physical activities of some kind, or a spelling or writing prompt.
*Many of our students are already engaged in digital platforms for classes utilizing Google classroom or Class Dojo, etc. In these cases, teachers will simply use these platforms as though the student were in attendance.
Will students that cannot complete the work be penalized?
We understand that internet and digital access may not be available to everyone, and that some students may not be able to complete all tasks assigned by instructors. Our hope is that the platforms used will allow for phones to be used to identify the assignment and utilize the “traditional pen and paper” at home to complete tasks the teacher may assign to the student. We will also work hard to predict inclement weather days in advance, sending technology home with students for use during the e-learning day.
We want to be clear that not all activities will need the internet to be completed. E-learning days are meant to enhance learning and be formative in nature. That being said, it is possible that homework will be assigned in anticipation of a snow day by our instructors. Our teachers will allow students to “catch up” if needed upon our return to school.
Students who do not participate will be counted as “absent”. Participation will look different at various grade levels and content areas. Regardless, students are expected to complete work assigned on an e-learning day. An e-learning absence will be treated the same as an in-person absence. During an absence on a “normal” school day, if a student is gone from school on Tuesday because they are ill and returns to school on Wednesday, the student has until Thursday to review and complete the assigned work that was missed from Tuesday’s absence. In the case of an “E- Learning Day”, if the student has an e-learning day on Tuesday and cannot get the digital learning experience to load because of lack of internet or a malfunctioning device and the student returns on Wednesday to in-person learning, the student has until Thursday to complete the work for full credit.
Will this be our policy moving forward?
We will utilize this practice to replace up to FIVE Emergency Days for the 2020-21 school year . For days 6-7-8 and so on we will be utilizing the practices of the past in applying for waivers for “Act of God” days. We will be analyzing and assessing each day we utilize as an “E-learning Day", and the process will be revisited for subsequent school years as allowed. For now, we only plan to use e-learning days for this school year. Please be patient with our teachers and staff as we try something new in an already greatly interrupted year. If we believe this practice is not beneficial to students, we will immediately discontinue its use.
As always if you have questions, comments, or concerns please don’t hesitate to email or call your child's school.