West central Minnesota school buildings may be closed by blizzard, but students and teachers are working

E-learning days allow school districts to continue instruction while teachers and students are safe at home during blizzards. Snow days are a thing of the past.


WILLMAR — Most school districts in west central Minnesota have declared Dec. 22 to be an e-learning day.

Kids in the area school districts will “go” to school in some way during the day Thursday even while a blizzard is forecast across the region.

By using e-learning days, school districts don’t have to try to rearrange their calendars to make up snow days later in the school year.

Beckie Simenson.jpeg
Beckie Simenson, Litchfield Superintendent

E-learning plans can vary between school districts and with the age of the students. Older students are more likely to have live classes, while younger may have assignment packets. Many area school districts provide iPads or Chromebooks for their students.

There are several benefits to e-learning days, Litchfield Superintendent Beckie Simenson said in an email Wednesday.


Her list included continued learning for students while they’re safe at home in bad weather. E-learning days are more beneficial than make-up days later in the school year, and they can prepare students for technology use in the future.

Preschool and elementary students have “Blizzard Bags” with assignments in them, and middle school and high school teachers will post work assignments online for their students.

Portrait of Rich Schneider, Yellow Medicine East Schools Superintendent
Rich Schneider, Yellow Medicine East Schools Superintendent
Contributed / Yellow Medicine East Schools

Middle school and high school students at Yellow Medicine East in Granite Falls log in according to their regular class schedule, said Superintendent Rich Schneider.

Elementary students in the district may have live classes, with the goal of building on their current class content and not going into new areas. Students without internet access will be able to make up the work.

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In the New London - Spicer e-learning plan, middle school and high school students are expected to check into their classes on Zoom according to the schedule used when school starts two hours late. Teachers take attendance and give assignments.

In Willmar , assignments for students through eighth grade are posted on the district website.

For example, third-grade students are to read for 30 minutes and solve some word problems in math. They have assignments for physical education and music, too.

Eighth-graders will be studying the geography and people of Australia and New Zealand.


High school students are required to log into the district’s Schoology system to get their assignments.

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: or phone 320-214-4340
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