By this point, everyone is probably sick of hearing about virtual learning, e-learning, remote learning, or any other variation of the concept. That sentiment is probably exactly why lawmakers have crafted legislation to limit the number of such days a school can have.
The House Enrolled Act 1093 says that schools are limited to no more than three virtual instruction days. The bill does allow schools to apply for a waiver because of “extraordinary circumstances.”
Obviously, the schools that are most worried about this are the ones further north. Schools all over the state have used remote learning days in place of snow days, but schools in the northern part of the state have more need for such an option.
However, there is another reason we should be hesitant to put e-Learning days out to pasture: Remote work is quickly becoming a facet of the real world.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, employees and students alike were forced home. We all just assumed that eventually both groups would go back to their brick-and-mortar locations. The students returned to school but many employees are still at home. A lot of people realized they liked working from home. A lot of employers realized it was much cheaper, and that is just traditional work. Lots of newer jobs were already predominately being done from home. Also, not for nothing, higher education has gone through a remote learning revolution, too. So all of this begs the question: With a large sector of the economy working from home, why are we so eager to prevent kids from doing the same from time to time?
Parents raised holy hell to get their kids back to in-person instruction, and nobody is debating that in-person instruction is better for most students, most of the time. Students needs to spend the vast majority of time at school. But the idea that schools would be prevented from having an e-Learning day during inclement weather or immediately preceding a break (you know those days when half of the class is out) seems kind of like overkill.
The equity elephant is in the room … and there it shall remain. The digital divide makes this conversation largely a moot point for the area I serve. We can’t reasonably be expected to distribute wi-fi hotspots and other requisite technology every time a snow storm comes. However, it is worth noting that it is the opinion of many that closing that divide is education’s most important task for reasons just like this.
There are a lot of people who are still having nightmares about having to take a ton of time off work to stay home during virtual learning. And if we are being truthful, there are lot of people that simply resent the concept of people working from home in general. However, if we are being honest with ourselves, the last two years have proven that there is a utility for e-learning days and that utility isn’t just keeping people off the streets during inclement weather. Schools are not always quick to adapt with the world but because of the circumstances they stumbled upon a way to prepare students for the next levels of their life.