ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Snow days have been hard to come by this winter for many Twin Cities students, but the idea of replacing them with an E-learning day left parents outside Burroughs Community School with mixed feelings.
“I think it would be a positive thing,” Brynn Patterson said. “It gives the kids something to do, and if they’re going to spend some time in front of a TV or computer anyways, it might as well be productive.”
Parent Angela Tennyson felt having the option of E-Learning days was a good idea, but she had financial concerns for some families.
“I think whatever tool they would need to use to access it, whether a tablet or computer would be costly because there are a lot of families not affordable to that, or don’t have those at home. They need to use public resources for that,” she said.
If a school district opted to use E-Learning days, it would have to be prepared to provide the necessary resources, such as a computer or tablet, to a student who didn’t already have one at home.
“I think it’s kind of a cultural change if you will,” said State Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa).
He was inspired to draft the E-Learning bill by what’s already happening at Zumbrota-Mazeppa Schools.
The district calls the program WILD, which stands for Weather Induced Learning Days. One video showed a teacher standing next to a tree, explaining how syrup is extracted. Students would log in and complete interactive assignments, some of which could take them outside of their house.
Teachers would also have to be near a computer, ready to answer questions or calls.
“(Students) may have something related to climate and snow. There still may be some snowmen being made but there may be some school work that’s based around that experience,” said Rep. Drazkowski.
He emphasized on that school districts wouldn’t be forced to participate or implement an E-Learning program. They could choose to continue with snow days.
“This is kind of part of Minnesota tradition where there’s a snow day, we get to go out and goof off but instead of that we’ve got situation where we still can go out and goof off a little bit, but tie that experience into actually structured learning that the school has all prepared for them that day,” he said.
The bill wasn’t voted on at Thursday’s hearing. It’s actually part of a larger education bill to be voted on later this year.