FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — A new Indiana law will limit schools to just three days of virtual learning, and half of those days will have to be led remotely by teachers.
It’s part of HB-1093, which includes various other education-related pieces of legislation. The portions regarding virtual learning include the following language:
“This bill establishes: (1) a definition for “virtual student instructional day”; and (2) requirements for virtual student instructional days. It provides that a public school may conduct not more than three virtual student instructional days that do not meet the established requirements. It provides that a public school that does not comply with these provisions may not count a student instructional day toward the 180 day student instructional day requirement. It also allows the DOE to waive these requirements.
This bill defines and sets rules regarding virtual student instructional days, limiting schools to including a maximum of three such days toward their required 180 days of student instructional time each school year. However, upon request from a school, the DOE may waive this HB 10932 requirement upon review of the request. Any school not meeting the required 180 days of student instructional time will have their tuition support revenue reduced according to state law. Any reduction in funding provided to schools will revert to the General Fund. The State Board of Education must work with the DOE to implement rules that define asynchronous and synchronous learning.”
WANE 15 reached out to various Allen County school districts to get their take on the law. Schools are still waiting to learn more about how the asynchronous and synchronous learning days will look.
One major issue with synchronous learning is making sure that each student has access to the internet. Representatives for Northwest Allen County Schools and Fort Wayne Community Schools both told WANE 15 they make wireless hotspots available for families who don’t have reliable internet access.
The other big issue is how this could potentially impact a school’s calendar if they can’t use virtual learning days and don’t have makeup days.
Lizette Downey, a NACS spokeswoman, said they add multiple makeup days into their calendar in order to allow for regular snow days and to not run into situations where the last day of school or graduation have to be moved.
Downey said they don’t anticipate being limited to three eLearning days being an issue unless there is a major weather-event that causes students to have to stay home multiple days in a row.
“What we have found is trying to find the balance between the two and trying to maintain a few snow days where kids can be kids and still go out and play, and still having that luxury of a few e-learning days if we do have that scenario where we have many days in a row where it’s just not feasible,“ Downey said.
FWCS spokewoman Krista Stockman provided this response via email when asked about the new law and how remote-learning adds an extra challenge for parents with young kids:
“For FWCS, we only had one year of using e-learning for weather days. Before the pandemic, we made up every day we missed. During the 2020-21 school year, all of our weather days were synchronous learning days. So, it won’t be as much of a stretch for us to return to that format. Other school districts may have a more difficult time because they have been using e-learning longer. We also tend to have fewer days when we cancel schools because city road conditions are very different from county roads. We also don’t contend with as much fog. Our average cancelations in a year is 3, though we have had as many as 13. We know when we delay or cancel it puts a burden on parents, so if we can safely transport students to school, we will remain in session. Having the option to go to eLearning or synchronous remote learning is important, however, because there are days in the winter when it is not safe to get students to school.”
A SACS spokeswoman was unavailable, but provided this response: “We are aware of the new code and are currently reviewing how it will impact future eLearning days at SACS.”
A call to an EACS spokesperson was not returned by the time of this report.