Minnesota schools with plans in place could turn to e-learning during cold snap

School districts have gotten more comfortable with distanced or online learning during the last few years throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but they still need special plans in place to call for an e-learning day when it is related to a weather emergency. 

In 2017, the Minnesota State Legislature passed a bill allowing school districts to call for up to five e-learning days because of weather emergencies. Under the bill, districts needed to create a plan, get that plan approved by their school board at the beginning of the school year and notify parents of the plan. 

Some districts, like Farmington Area Public Schools, have been utilizing these days since they became an option. By switching to distance learning during a weather emergency, districts don’t have to worry about making up the time later. 

"If we close in some way, shape or form we have to make that up but if we transition to a flex learning day, which is the same as an e-learning day, we don’t have to worry about trying to make that up in other ways that aren’t as meaningful like adding additional minutes to the school day or adding days to the end of the school year," Farmington Area Public Schools Superintendent Jason Berg said. 

Some schools, like Anoka-Hennepin School District, one of the largest in the state, don’t have e-learning plans in place, so they don’t have the option to switch to distanced learning for weather-related emergences meaning if district leaders decide it’s too cold for school and cancel, they have to make that day up down the line. 

Other districts like Red Wing Public Schools are also utilizing e-learning days for weather emergencies. The superintendent there says he would like to see the state open up e-learning options, allowing districts to use more days for weather-related and other emergencies. 

"In my dream the Minnesota Legislature would increase the number of days that we can use each year and also give us the flexibility of what we can do on those days," Red Wing Superintendent Karsten Anderson said.