Central Illinois school districts adjust classroom plans due to snowstorm

HEYWORTH, Ill. (WMBD) – With large amounts of snow forecast over the next few days, school districts in central Illinois are adjusting classroom plans.

On Tuesday, districts announced plans ranging from online learning to traditional snow days to a hybrid of the two options.

As extreme weather conditions hit the area, Heyworth CUSD #4 Superintendent Dr. Lisa Taylor said her district is turning to its emergency preparedness plan.

“It requires constant communication with our director of transportation, but also with the village responsible for cleaning city roads, and then with our highway commissioner who looks after our rural roads,” Taylor said.

With significant snow totals predicted for this week, she said staff have been told to prepare for online learning.

“We did a pilot before COVID. So we held online learning days on snow days several years ago, and then we surveyed our students, staff and families to find out where we could improve,” Taylor said.

Taylor said she has seen the danger snow conditions can present, and student safety comes first.

“My first year here, on our first snowfall which was an early release, we had a bus overturn,” Taylor said. “We don’t want to put children at risk if we don’t have to,” she added.

In the McLean County Unit 5 School District, school leaders are gearing up for an online learning day on Wednesday.

“It keeps our students engaged and connected to their teachers, and for that learning to continue,” said Unit 5 Superintendent Dr. Kristen Weikle.

The district will hold a traditional snow day for staff and students on Thursday.

“They can have fun with fashion, play in the snow if they want, or stay indoors where it might be nice and cozy,” Weikle said.

The two superintendents said they were evaluating factors such as road conditions before determining whether classes would resume as normal on Friday.

Norma A. Roth