One State Is Limiting How Often Districts Can Impose Virtual Learning Days

By Erika Hanson | 1 month ago

virtual learning

Virtual learning may be here to stay, but there is no denying the evidence and research that backs up claims that this type of instruction has been found to widen the achievement gap in education. It’s a big debate among parents throughout the United States, but more often than not, reports suggest that the majority of parents opposed this type of education. Understanding that, one state is taking additional steps to make sure public schools are limited to how often they go remote.

In the state of Indiana, public schools are currently not limited as to how many days they impose virtual learning on children, something the state refers to as asynchronous instruction. But next year, that will change. According to Chalkbeat, a new state law will go into effect next year to limit how many times a year schools can enact these learning days.

Beginning in the 2022-2023 school year, schools in Indiana will only be allowed to enact virtual days of learning three days a year. The state defines these asynchronous instruction days as any day that students spend time online learning without a teacher. It is being touted as a measure to put in check schools that are found to be abusing the practice, furthering the loss of teacher-driven instructional days.

School districts around the state are now rampantly shuffling around plans for school in order to meet these strict new demands restricting virtual learning days. How this will play into days of school closures due to inclement weather or COVID shutdowns, is still unknown. It is troublesome to some school leaders, who have seen such an uptick in school closures during the onset of the COVID pandemic. 

Terry Spradlin, the executive director of the Indiana School Board Association said that schools have increasingly turned to virtual learning, and those incidents were exasperated during the pandemic. In Indiana, schools perpetually closed and reopened several times during the last three school years. As schools closed for precaution and safety measures, schools had no choice but to impose virtual learning, providing students with resources to learn from home – often without a teacher.

While Indiana’s new law mitigating learning loss from virtual learning days is hailed by many parents and teachers, not everyone thinks the decision is a good one. Some experts believe asynchronous instruction is needed as an alternative to closing schools down altogether during snow days, or teacher professional development days. To this point, they think students will further lose out.

virtual learning

But on the other hand, every state has a set number of learning days that districts must abide by. Because of this, schools that miss out on in-person learning for professional development days and snow days are often required to make them up at the end of the school year. Semantics aside,  the purpose of this new law is to make sure that districts are not abusing how many virtual days they impose on students.

 For districts scrambling to make new plans for next year amid this new ruling, there is still leeway. Schools will be able to apply for waivers for these virtual learning days under “extraordinary circumstances,” according to a memo from the Indiana department of education. And as more and more research backs up claims that remote learning has led to immense learning loss among America’s youth, it won’t be unusual if more states look to enact similar rulings.