MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It was back to school for Miami-Dade, but students and teachers encountered some connectivity issues on this first day of online learning.
In a tweet Monday morning, Miami-Dade County Public schools posted, “The District’s data center is experiencing external connectivity issues with the Internet from http://dadeschools.net. The problem has been identified and staff is working diligently to resolve it. We thank you for your patience.”
“We are hoping to have it fully operational in a half-hour to an hour. However, as a system, we will be publishing via all means an alternate access for students and teachers,” he said.
Students from elementary schools to high schools reported issues with joining their online classes.
The District's data center is experiencing external connectivity issues with the Internet from https://t.co/LKKWIpBJ4i. The problem has been identified and staff is working diligently to resolve it. We thank you for your patience. pic.twitter.com/yWju9C38eJ
— Miami-Dade Schools (@MDCPS) August 31, 2020
Victoria Garcia Sanchez, a third grader, experienced the system crash.
“It’s going to be a little boring just staring at the screen,” she said.
Her mother, Melissa Selem, said it’s just frustrating.
“The system pretty much crashed right at the beginning and they were just kind of waiting to see how to get on and that was most of our day,” she said.
Other families expressed the same frustration.
“It’s difficult. I don’t know. I think they should change the whole system when it comes to the logging in virtually school system,” Zaidel Cardoza.
Marianna Dubinsky said it was a rough start for her two daughters, 9-year-old Diana and 7-year-old Audrey.
“We were supposed to use the new software and it’s not working, the live sessions are not showing up. So we got phone calls and emails from both the principal and the teacher, so now we are going to be going back to Zoom. They are saying it’s for the first day, they are having technical issues, of course, that makes us a little bit cautious, so ‘oh no, we can’t believe this is happening again’. But hopefully, they will iron this out, ” she said.
The Miami-Dade County teachers union expressed their frustration in a statement on Monday.
“Our Miami-Dade education professionals have been working hard over the past two weeks, weekends included, to prepare for the start of the school year. It has been incredibly frustrating and disheartening to see how this program has failed them as well as our students and parents. Teachers have displayed an unbelievable amount of ingenuity and resilience over the past four months and our hope is that the district will be able to resolve these issues soon so that distance learning can be optimized,” United Teachers of Dade President Karla Hernandez-Mats said in a statement.
We understand Internet connectivity issues have been a challenge today. Students unable to connect due to these issues will not be penalized. We ask students to continue to work to make connections w/ assigned teachers, as scheduled. Any attendance discrepancies will be addressed pic.twitter.com/V7EJ5KVgGM
— Miami-Dade Schools (@MDCPS) August 31, 2020
The superintendent said this wasn’t a capacity, connectivity or platform issue. He is blaming it on a software glitch with the District’s internet provider.
On a brighter note, the superintendent said online could be a distant memory for some, if the virus’s positivity rate keeps going down.
“Second to third week of September, students could be back in the classroom,” said Carvallo.
As for the glitches, the District said it’s working on the problem day and night.
“They have been having a really chill summer so they are wanting to get back to school and I would like to get some work done so that would be great if they could get it fixed,” said Selem.
On Sunday, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the district was ready and tweeted, “I know these past few months have been challenging, but I am positive we are ready to reopen smart and return safe.”
In a letter to teachers, Carvalho said he wants them to connect with their students.
“During the first week of school, we want you to focus on being present with your students – connect with them, build relationships, and establish routines and expectations. This will help allay their concerns and angst about what the school year will bring, and ultimately help lay the foundation for their academic achievement,” he wrote.
The district said teachers have staggered start times to prevent the system from crashing, but this apparently did not work.
Travis Duckworth from KIPP Miami Public Schools is teaching his third graders from home. He said it was difficult navigating this new normal but since KIPP Miami’s virtual classroom is not on the same platform as Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Duckworth was able to answer parent questions and ultimately get the first day of class going. KIPP stands for Knowledge is Power Program, part of a national network of public charter schools.
“To get their attention as a teacher, I have to navigate through my Zoom frequently and monitor all of my students’ faces. You have to have different techniques and different strategies to keep the students engaged,” he said.
One school board member told CBS4 last week, the lack of adequate training for teachers is in part due to the late approval from the Board of Education before the district could begin training.
In his letter to teachers, Carvalho admitted there have been challenges.
“We recognize that some of the delays – all of which have been the result of errors with third-party vendors – have impacted our ability to feel fully prepared and comfortable using the platform. We have collectively been affected by this. We also recognize there have been challenges with professional development. I promise you we are working day and night to quickly ameliorate many of these issues, all so we can deliver a better experience to you and our students,” he wrote.
Despite the challenges, the superintendent told his teachers that he believes they will overcome them.
“I ask you to lead. Lead your colleagues. Lead your students. Lead by example. Trust that no matter the obstacle, no matter the bumps in the road, we will succeed together. We will leverage this crisis and create additional opportunities for our students to thrive. With your continued patience, professionalism, and partnership, I have no doubt that we will once again accomplish the impossible and realize inevitable success.”