Kaneland school board approves emergency days e-learning

Kaneland McDole Elementary School students arrive for the first day of school Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021.

The Kaneland School District 302 Board approved an e-learning plan for emergency days for the 2023-24 school year during the board meeting Monday, Sept. 25.

In lieu of traditional emergency days in which school is canceled for the day because of inclement weather, students will be taught via e-learning on days in which severe weather makes it not safe for students to get to and from school. This would let students engage and continue learning on days when severe weather typically would not allow for student attendance.

Patrick Raleigh, director of educational services 6-12 for the district, said the plan tries to mimic the learning experience within each of Kaneland’s schools as much as possible.

“When we dug into what the learning experience for our students was going to be, we wanted to replicate that day of learning as closely as possible to what our students would be doing if they were here within our school walls,” he said.

“This would be used in what traditionally were snow days if we can determine this by a certain time. It could be used in extreme heat days, which we saw earlier in the year. We did not implement it because it needs to be board approved ... but this plan would replace the snow days that are then made up at the end of the school year.”

There were no comments or questions during the public hearing.

Board President Addam Gonzales, vice president Bob Mankivsky and board members Edmund Koch, Aaron Lawler and Jennifer Simmons voted in favor of the plan.

“This is a much better plan than I used,” Koch said. “We had e-learning days before COVID and even when we had a few e-learning days they were not as well-planned as this is and it went smoothly. I believe this is a very good plan and will work well.”

Board members Ryan Kleisner and Aaron McCauley voted against the plan.

Kleisner expressed his concern for parents who suddenly are thrust into teaching assistant type roles to ensure their children are participating in e-learning.

“A lot of the burden falls on parents and that’s the tougher thing,” he said. “As parents, we don’t really get snow days. If we have to stay at home or have alternate means so someone is taking care of the kids, grandparents, an aunt or uncle or something like that, then the burden falls on them. That’s my biggest concern, the burden on parents having to work as well as manage the students e-learning for one emergency day.”

Decisions regarding when an e-learning day will be used would be made by 8 p.m. the night before. Since it would count as a day of learning, it would not have to be made up at the end of the school year.

Kaneland will be allowed to use up to a maximum of five e-learning days.

In the event that inclement weather arrives after 8 p.m., Kaneland would use a standard emergency snow day, which would not be a day of e-learning. That day would be tacked on to the end of the school year.