PAOLI, IN (WAVE) – Wintry weather created an icy commute for drivers Monday morning, leading many school districts to delay or even call off school.
Multiple days of slick road conditions meant multiple snow days logged for many districts now looking to make up those days including South Harrison Community Schools which called in their fifth snow day of the year on Monday.
"Whenever you talk about black ice and you talk about school buses and teenage drivers on the roads and parents bringing kids in, black ice certainly gets your attention," Dr. Mark Eastridge, South Harrison Community Schools Superintendent, said.
Three snow days will be made up during their district's two-week spring break. Two more days will be made up on holidays like President's Day. Many districts around the region are doing the same, cutting into breaks and holidays to make up missed classroom time.
But if Paoli needs any more snow days, they likely won't be doing that inside the schools but at home through e-learning.
"I think if we add on any more days, we're looking at delaying graduation. So we're trying to squeeze those in with e-learning," Throop Elementary School Principal Wes Whitfield said.
Paoli will make up one snow day on President's Day and another at the end of the year. The three e-learning days schedule for the semester will work well, Whitfield said, but he worries too many more will overdo it but the alternative option of delaying graduation isn't ideal either.
"We're in a limbo right now of, we don't want to use too many e-learning days. We want to keep that traditional approach and keep kids here in classrooms with teachers. So we're kind of toward our limit but just trying to see how February and March hold out for us," Whitfield said.
E-learning days are approved by the Indiana Department of Education for public and private districts, provided they can show all students will be able to meet certain criteria like instructor and internet access to all students. Currently, 218 public and private school districts in Indiana are approved for these e-learning day programs, according to the Indiana Department of Education.
Paoli is in its second year of e-learning but Whitfield said it's not always a perfect solution to snow days.
"There's just no substitution for just being in the classroom and face to face with the classroom for kids. But we think e-learning for this time of the year is better than some days toward the end of the year," Whitfield explained.
As technology access expands, districts like South Harrison are considering doing the same.
Eastridge said student access to technology within the district continues to grow, giving them the option of e-learning days that was not possible before.
"We're moving more into technology, we've purchased more devices and we've got more kids that then could have access devices if we do go to an e-learning day," Eastridge said. But for now, they're just hoping the weather stays warmer so they don't have to worry about makeup days again until next year.
For more information on the state's e-learning days, visit the Indiana Department of Education website here.