LPS Families Report Problems, Long Delays Getting Connected on First Day of Remote Learning

Aug. 17, 2020, 3:07 p.m. ·

Photo by Andy Falconer on Unsplash

Lincoln Public Schools started remote learning Monday for students who chose that option, and parents and teachers have reported difficulties getting connected.

Problems shared with NET include not receiving Zoom links from teachers, not seeing the "join" button that should be next to the link, receiving dozens of links for the same class, and experiencing slow connections.

"We were refreshing and refreshing all morning long just to make sure," said Traci Hershner of her 5th grade student. "And then our teacher kept sending new links every half hour or whatever so I’m assuming he was trying to connect to us as well. But after lunch he sent a link around 12:30 and we were able to click on right away."

The district apologized for the problems on Twitter, saying any student that couldn't connect on Monday wouldn't be counted absent or tardy.

The LPS helpline was overloaded at times, and Hershner said she wasn't able to get through for help with her questions.

LPS Remote Learning Help

LPS Chief Technology Officer Kirk Langer said problems stemmed from a wide variety of issues.

"We saw that some of our students might have had a problem with something like their Chromebook, for example, and weren't able to get connected to a network in their home," Langer said. "We had some students who whose Chromebook might not have been working and they might not have had it out for a little bit and didn't weren't aware of that. And we had some students who, in some cases, needed an access point that the that the district is providing, but had not had the opportunity to pick one up."

On the district side of things, Langer said there were problems with a connection between Zoom and Synergy, which is the student information system.

Langer said they use Synergy to connect to Zoom because it's more secure, but it's a brand new integration.

"We saw some things that needed to be fine tuned," Langer said. "We had the prescience to know that those things would need to be fine tuned, and we had their some of their senior engineering staff, and vice president in charge of product development on zoom call with us, and we were working on those problems to do ameliorate them as quickly as possible."

Langer says he’s confident they can make those changes and that things will be smoother as soon as Tuesday.

About 8,800 students have chosen the 100% remote learning option, about 22% of all students.

In addition, about half of all high school students are remote learning a few days a week while attending in-person the other days.

In all, district officials say between 13,000 and 14,000 students were participating in remote learning Monday, with about 4,500 Zoom sessions as of 11 a.m.

Families can switch from remote learning to in-person, and vice versa, any time by contacting their school.

Traci Hershner said she expected things to be chaotic on the first day and she's not thinking about changing their plan.

"It’s going to be a little bit frustrating, I think, for everybody. But I am trying to have patience and understanding," Hershner said. "These teachers are awesome. They definitely need to be getting paid more for what they’re doing. And I’m willing to stick it out and see how it goes. I have all the confidence that they’re doing the best they can with the resources that they have."

Langer said they understand the stakes are high and the district is taking problems very seriously.