Are e-learning days the best alternative?

This past winter, we were faced with some days that yielded more snowfall than many expected. In fact, many schools in the area, including Uni High deemed the weather too severe, and for several days canceled their “regular” school days. The common response, over the last few years that is, to severe weather for different schools is taking a “snow day,” simply a day off from school that would be made up at a later time. However, with the 1+ years of online learning many schools, such as Uni, experienced during the past two school years (due to COVID-19), there now exists a viable alternative to the traditional “snow day”; an e-learning day. 

E-learning days vary highly in structure from the normal school days that students have. For example, during e-learning days, teachers have the option to ask students to work asynchronously and simply take attendance from a sign-in sheet. That allows students freedom that is absent from being in the same room as an instructor, and while not doing the work assigned can still be a detriment to a student’s grades/ability to keep up with an ongoing curriculum, students can much more easily not complete the work assigned, or perhaps cheat themselves out of a given assignment by accessing different electronic aids to answer questions, working more collaboratively than is allowed in the classroom, etc.

When talking with some students about the opportunity to do e-learning, they recognized much of the same. “It’s easier to slack off and the incentive to be on top of whatever work you have isn’t too high … not being in a work environment like school and instead, joining a Zoom call for class from your bed, for example, also is a detriment because there’s the lack of a work-vibe that being at school brings,” said Senior Jake Allen. Most other students agreed with that message, and voiced that the difference between the work they accomplish/the amount they learn is high between an e-learning day and a regular school day. 

Teachers are of the same opinion as students in this case as well, mostly recognizing the difficulty in conveying information to students through the barrier that is a computer. When asked to elaborate, Uni High Math Teacher Kaila Simpson said, “I like to hold an actual Zoom class so that students have the opportunity to learn, but I know in reality a very small percentage of the class is actually paying attention.” She further expanded by adding that she would “rather have taken a normal snow day,” as she is confident it would allow her to better teach the subject material. Uni High Social Sciences Teacher Andrew Wilson was of the same opinion, but also recognized that adding a day to the end of the school year isn’t something that most want, and subsequently, that makes e-learning days more appealing to faculty and students alike.

Whether it be due to weather, the COVID-19 pandemic, or a different strenuous condition, e-learning days don’t seem to be popular when viewed from the perspective of the ability to teach and learn. However, the appeal seems to come from the thought that “something is better than nothing,” but in this case is it? If faculty and students alike notice a lack in learning occurring, is taking an e-learning day the best alternative?