BCSC school board reduces eLearning days for inclement weather

Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. board members approved reducing the number of eLearning days the school corporation may use to make up for inclement weather to comply with a new state law.

School board members voted Monday to amend BCSC’s calendar to use three eLearning days to make up inclement weather instead of the previous five.

The change came after Gov. Eric Holcomb signed House Bill 1093 into law in March. The new law, which took effect in July, limits schools to three eLearning days per year unless certain standards are met.

The school corporation had previously adopted a policy of using eLearning on its first five “inclement weather” days of the year, with anything more than that made up in person.

Per Indiana Code, public schools and charter schools (except for those classified as virtual schools) may only hold three “virtual student instruction days” each school year, unless the school day is made up of either “teacher directed synchronous instruction” or a hybrid wherein synchronous teaching accounts for at least half of the day.

For any days that do not meet these standards, only the first three will be permitted. Anything after that will not count towards a school’s required 180 student instructional days.

“For a variety of reasons, we see that as a real challenge, to be able to certify that we are 51% synchronous from a student numbers standpoint and a time standpoint during the day,” Superintendent Jim Roberts said during a previous school board meeting.

He noted that in the past, when school corporations within Indiana surpassed five snow days, the Indiana Department of Education would consider providing waivers to accommodate for missed instruction. While Roberts isn’t sure if that is the case at present or how many days a corporation would have to reach for these conversations to start, he said that waivers may still be a possibility moving forward.

Indiana Code states that a school can request a waiver to count an eLearning day toward its 180-day requirement, despite the day in question not meeting the state’s aforementioned requirements — if eLearning was conducted due to “extraordinary circumstances.”