Home News NYC public schools hold remote learning ‘simulation’ after snow day tech issues

NYC public schools hold remote learning ‘simulation’ after snow day tech issues

New York City public schools held a remote learning “simulation” Thursday after a snow day fiasco shut children out of their online classrooms this year, but not all families were able — or willing — to participate.

In February, the system buckled under the stress of all students and teachers logging on at once, which education officials hoped to simulate with the exercise. But the test, which was optional, was scheduled for a school holiday, leading some students to participate begrudgingly or to continue with their day-off plans.

Lupe Hernandez said she tried logging on with her son, Nico, who has a disability requiring he use assistive technology. But his school, P.S. 234 The Independence School in Manhattan, did not send the device home with him, and his fifth-grade Google Classroom did not appear online.

“It’s one thing if we don’t know, but this was planned,” Hernandez said. “So to me, that’s a fail.”

Karen, whose two kids attend elementary school in Brooklyn’s District 20, said she did not know any families who participated in the simulation and questioned its effectiveness. Previous tests did not involve all individuals using an authentication system at the same time through the tech company IBM, which led to the crash.

“If you’re making it voluntary, and you’re making it on a day off, then you’re not going to get an accurate picture of what it’s going to look like,” she said. “My personal opinion is that’s not very wise.”

“You tell a 10 year old they don’t have to do something — they’re not going to do it.”

The Department of Education would not say how many students joined the online exercise, though they had that information in real time during the snow day. Press secretary Nathaniel Styer in a statement said the public schools were grateful to families who participated.

“We look forward to incorporating the findings from this simulation following a thorough review,” he said, “which is occurring concurrently with ongoing load testing by DIIT (Division of Instructional and Information Technology) and IBM, into our emergency remote preparations.”


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