An Innovative Approach
Newark CCSD 66 is planning an innovative approach to dealing with inclement weather and emergency days. Public Act 100-0465 made sweeping changes to education funding in Illinois, but also created flexibility in the definition of an “instructional day.”
In the past, if a snow day was called, an “Emergency Day” was tacked on to the end of the school year. This extended the school year and often caused problems with scheduling because of our desire to firmly schedule testing, end of the year activities, graduation ceremonies, and other end of year events. After discussing this with our staff, we felt an Alternative Learning Day integrated during the year could be more effective than an additional day at the end of the year for many of our students. Unpredictable circumstances may still require us to use “Emergency Days” that will be added to the end of the year.
What is an Alternative E-Learning Day?
An Alternative E- Learning Day approach allows us to provide an “instructional day” even if our building is not open due to weather/road conditions/etc. On these days, teachers will send home assignments, lessons, and enrichment activities for students to complete. There may also be links established by teachers that allow for students to complete work online at home. Teachers will be available via e-mail to answer questions – with mandatory checks by teachers in the morning and afternoon. Assignments and assignment sheets are due the day we return in order for students to be counted as “present”. Teachers will have shared information with students regarding the assignments and expectations.
Won’t this look different at each grade level?
Each grade level looks uniquely different every day, so yes this Alternative E-Learning Day may look different. Our teachers have collaborated and will continue to collaborate to collectively develop lessons that are grade level appropriate and a continuation of what learning has been in the classroom.
Will students that cannot complete the work online be penalized?
Absolutely not! 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 teachers. We also want to be clear, not all activities will need the internet to be completed. These days are meant to enhance learning and be formative in nature. However, to be counted as a day of attendance, the assignment sheets must be signed by an adult along with completed paperwork the day we return.
Will this be our policy moving forward?
We are proposing this for three years. However, we realize that this is a new and innovative idea that we will be analyzing and assessing each day we utilize the Alternative Learning Day experience. Please be patient with our teachers and staff as we try something new. We reserve the right to pull the plug if necessary. With that being said, our teachers are excited to try and lead the newest trend in public education. As always if you have questions, comments, or concerns please don’t hesitate to email or call.