Burnsville Eagan Savage District wintry buses

Burnsville-Eagan-Savage busses outside of Eagle Ridge Middle School on Feb. 4.

Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District officials could replace traditional snow days with online learning days under a plan officials are putting together.

The online learning plan would only be used on inclement weather days and would help prevent the district from dipping below the state’s minimum instructional day requirement. The Burnsville-Eagan-Savage District Board of Education discussed the idea’s logistics and challenges at a work session on May 23.

The board is scheduled to finalize and vote on the plan in June.

Several school districts, including Shakopee Public Schools, have recently started similar programs.

This year, Burnsville-Eagan-Savage cancelled six school days due to inclement weather. Two days were made up later, and Gov. Tim Walz forgave the rest.

The flexible learning days will look different between grades.

Each student in grades 6 through 12 is provided a Chromebook, so students will be able to work through a lesson plan using an online platform.

Elementary students, who aren’t provided technology to take home, will be given an activities board resembling a bingo board to guide their at-home learning.

Assistant Superintendent Brian Gersich said district administration wants the at-home learning to be creative, flexible and authentic. Gersich added that students won’t be punished for lack of access or ability to complete the lesson plan.

District officials emphasized the importance of making provisions for special education students and creating a plan that won’t disadvantage students based on their at-home circumstances.

Students without WiFi will be able to check out hot-spot pucks from the library, but questions about how students will anticipate the need to check them out have yet to be worked out. Another open question will be the cost to purchase enough pucks for all students who need them.

“From my perspective at least, we are going to have some bumps,” said board member Eric Miller. “Failure is OK with this.”

Board Chairwoman Abigail Alt said the district will seek feedback from families about flexible learning days to help make the system stronger or find it has too many problems to go on.

Under the drafted plan, the first snow day will be a traditional snow day and flexible learning days will be used on the next two to five inclement weather days.

Christine Schuster is a reporter for the Savage Pacer.

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