SPRINGFIELD – A new law enacted today allows school districts statewide to utilize e-learning days in lieu of emergency days. Public Act 101-0012 also reinstates the requirement that a school day consist of a minimum of five hours of instructional time, a provision that previously sunset in 2017. The law grants school districts exceptions to that requirement for students to engage in learning opportunities outside of the classroom.
“Illinois students will continue to have access to important career-connected learning opportunities both in and outside of the classroom,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “Thoughtful discussions among ISBE, school administrators, lawmakers, educators, and other stakeholders resulted in a solution that meets our twin goals of flexibility and accountability.”
School districts have found that using e-learning days in lieu of emergency days allows the curriculum to move forward, so students stay on track during inclement weather and other unexpected events.
“The academics and assignments focus on what students are working on at the time of the e-learning day,” said Gurnee School District 56 Superintendent Dr. Colleen Pacatte, whose district was one of three to participate in the state’s e-learning pilot. “By the time you start adding days to the end of the school year, kids are checked out, families are checked out, and everybody knows that they’re jumping through hoops. An e-learning day is more meaningful than adding days at the end of the school year."
In addition to expanding the flexibility to use e-learning, Public Act 101-0012 provides exceptions to the five-hour instructional day requirement for students:
- Enrolled in dual credit,
- Participating in supervised career development experiences,
- Participating in youth apprenticeships, and
- Participating in blended learning programs.
The law also allows school districts to use two of the 176 instructional calendar days for parent/teacher conferences.