Lincoln students experience snags on first day of remote learning

One parent tells 10/11 NOW her daughter was only able to attend class for five minutes out of the whole day.
Published: Aug. 17, 2020 at 6:28 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Fifth grade Syllas Parker and her seventh grade brother Ryland sat down at their desks in a classroom created in their home ready to learn Monday morning.

Their mom, Jess Parker, took their pictures holding a sign that said “COVID-19 Remote Learning Homeschool Day 1.”But their morning went downhill from there.

“My son was able to log into his first period class but Syllas couldn’t log in at all and when Ryland closed his Chromebook between classes he couldn’t log in again,” Parker said.

Parker said she spent the day on the phone with the schools, in group chats with other parents and a lot of refreshing and re-logging in on the Chromebooks. But by the end of the day, Parker said Syllas was only able to attend five minutes of one class and Ryland was able to attend two and a half.

"I was kind of sad I couldn't do it," Syllas said.

The Parker family wasn't alone.

Kirk Langer, Chief Technology Officer for LPS said students across the district experienced a myriad of problems. Everything from issues with internet connection, to Chromebook errors to a system overload when nearly 14,000 remote learners logged onto their system at the exact same time.

"This morning we invited between 13-14,000 students to participate in remote learning, which includes high school B students, as of 11:00 a.m. we had hosted nearly 4,500 remote classes and students had spent over 1.2 million minutes on Zoom," Langer said."

He said given that amount of traffic, no amount of preparation could have prevented the system errors.

“I might compare it to the first Big Red Saturday at Memorial Stadium,” Langer said. “No matter what preparations you do to prepare for the traffic on the ground, the buses, the cars and you will still almost certainly talk to people and find they encountered traffic snarls.”

He said they were on a Zoom call themselves with engineers and product developers throughout the morning which they hope will address the issues.

“I don’t expect anything we saw this morning to be anything that’d be ongoing,” Langer said. “That said I do suspect with the sheer number of learners that it will be a while before everyone will be able to join error free and problem free.”

Langer said he didn't know how many families had issues this morning, but it's not all of them.

Emily Mannschreck, a Lincoln parent tells 10/11 her family had no major problems.

"It's going really well," Mannschreck said. "We had one message from LPS when they had a brief internet outage, my seventh grader had to restart her laptop once to get it working but it's gone perfectly."

She said her seventh grader and third grader were able to participate in class all day long and she was happy to see how teachers were engaging with both remote and in-person students.

"Before today I had a lot of mixed emotions about it and I now feel very comfortable doing home learning," Mannschreck said.

Langer said he hopes soon every parent will have a positive experience, but said it may take patience.

"The stakes are very high, we take it very seriously and are working diligently to make sure students have access to the classroom to make sure they can learn," Langer said.

Parents like Parker said they're hoping for improvements throughout the week because they fear their children's education will suffer.

"This is an equity issue," Parker said. "If this continues the kids in class will actually learning and remote learners would just be sitting at home trying to refresh.

Students who couldn’t attend classes due to technical concerns won’t be counted absent or tardy. Parents dealing with these problems can call the LPS help desk at 402-436-1735.

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