Tysons, VA

The first week of distance learning for roughly 189,000 Fairfax County Public School students has been off to a rough start.

Technical issues with the Blackboard 24/7 system prompted FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand to cancel the online learning through tomorrow (Friday). The system encountered log-in problems and other issues since distance learning kicked off on Tuesday (April 14).

Brabrand made the decision after hiccups on Wednesday morning prompted a two-hour delay in teacher-led instruction. Online learning was later canceled due to ongoing technical issues that day.

“We sincerely appreciate your patience and share your frustration related to our distance learning challenges this week. FCPS had worked closely with Blackboard’s technical team for several weeks prior to the launch of distance learning and there was no indication that the system would be unable to handle the volume of participating users or would be susceptible to the security issues that many of our schools encountered,” Brabrand wrote.

Blackboard Inc., a Reston-based company that contracts with school systems nationwide, says it believes it has identified the root cause of connectivity problems. The company expects updates to the system will take until at least Friday to complete.

“As a Fairfax County-based company, we are deeply committed to providing Fairfax students and parents the robust and secure learning environment that they want and need. We apologize for the disruption this has caused to instruction and we appreciate patience as we all work together as an education community to ensure continuity of learning for students.”

Brabrand noted that the school system will provide an update on the status of distance learning tomorrow (Friday).

Teachers will contact students over the email and phone to make sure third-quarter work assigned before March 13 is submitted. Students can live stream instructional programs on local cable channels and other resources are available on the school’s website.

The school system’s distance learning plan is scheduled to run through June 8. High school and middle school students will receive no marks for the fourth quarter, although fourth-quarter assignments can be used to lift a student’s final grade. Elementary school students will not receive any fourth-quarter grades.

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