By Jeff Wagner

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.

[graphiq id=”hxfjAo1HdMp” title=”Minnesota Year-To-Date Snowfall” width=”600″ height=”547″ url=”” link=”” link_text=”WeatherDB | Graphiq” frozen=”true”]

Jeff Wagner

Comments (5)
  1. This sounds expensive. Was this rushed in when the budget surplus was found?

  2. If schools want to call an e-learning day, they will. No need to micromanage. Legislators have more important things to work on.

  3. Paul Evenson says:

    This is one more asinine idea, snow day makeup is already handled in every school district I know of in states that get snow. 1 – snow days also leave many teachers with children at home to care for, so why should they now have to work on a “snow day” and many students would not be at home they would be at a care givers home. 2 – many students do not learn well using online courses so schools would be shorting those students. 3- it will require even more taxpayer dollars to make sure every student has a working computer at home and an internet provider – very expensive options. 4 – schools are not set up to handle the vast amount of data upload/download from the numbers of people affected.
    My guess is this idea was floated by someone who is, what I call, a computer enthusiast or worse some school administrator or teacher who wants their summer days off longer.
    This would be too expensive and difficult to implement for the teachers, students and their parents, not to mention taxpayers.

  4. E-learning is similar to online learning in higher education, which is a great skill to introduce and develop at the k-12 level. However, beyond the expense of the device (schools providing tablet or computer) is the expense of internet services. We still have a divide in internet access that needs to be addressed Further, there are many families still needing the extra help in feeding their children and having appropriate lodging (heat). We need to keep these families in mind. America is still in La-La Land that we have all that we need. I hope the Legislation considers this.

  5. I think the idea is really nice, but yeah, legislators are not thinking about the families that don’t have internet/access/devices at home. I also know quite a few teachers who use that day to catch up on grading, housework, and other things–because being a teacher is one of the few jobs that requires you to take your work home with you and not be paid for that time! There are other things we should be doing to improve our school system then making up snow days.