The school day came to a halt Tuesday morning for a majority of Frederick County Public School students and teachers due to a widespread server outage.
Starting around 9 a.m., students and teachers were unable to log on to Schoology and other online learning platforms like Google Classroom for about an hour.
Schoology is the primary learning management platform that FCPS uses for online learning. Students are able to access documents, digital assignments, and resources through the platform. Most live, synchronous sessions occur through Google Meet which is supported by Google Classroom.
The outage came as students in middle and high school were in the midst of their first-period class and just as most elementary schoolers were logging on for the start of the day.
Jessica Jamison's two children both attend Whittier Elementary School. Her son is in Kindergarten and her daughter is in the Pre-K program. Jamison said she spent an hour trying to log on her kids to Schoology Tuesday morning but couldn't gain access. Eventually, she called the school and central office and was told it was a countywide issue.
After an hour of failed attempts, Jamison's son was able to log on through a personal family computer but the issue was still effecting the kids' Chromebooks. Her daughter ended up missing the entire day of school and her son's connection kept going in and out.
Daryl Boffman, executive director of Public Affairs for FCPS, said in an email that teachers were flexible with students for the remainder of the school day and that schools worked to make adjustments to schedules to compensate for the outage.
This is the first major technological issue the school system has seen since beginning the school year last week in a full virtual mode.
Jamison said Tuesday's issues just added to how stressful the virtual learning environment has been.
"By the second day my son was tired of sitting in a chair and staring at a screen. They did a show-and-tell and it takes like an hour to go through all the kids and he’s just sitting there," she said.
When asked what caused Tuesday's outage Boffman did not provide a specific reason but said, "We are actively investigating the root cause and implementing strategies to prevent a recurrence of this issue in the future."
Boffman added that the possibility of another outage is unknown and that due to FCPS not controlling all aspects of online learning, they cannot predict the occurrence of technology glitches.
Jamison said she worries that glitches like this will continue.
“I hope it doesn’t [continue] but I guess I don’t have much faith because there’s so many people trying to be [online] at the same time.”
In a statement, school superintendent Terry Alban said that as long as FCPS and its students and teachers are using technology for instruction there is the possibility for technical issues to occur.
"Our team responded rapidly this morning to address the issue within an hour. Just as they do when teaching face to face in a classroom, our teachers demonstrate professional flexibility when encountering technical challenges," Alban said. "In the virtual model, I know that our teachers have worked with students to develop options should there be a technical glitch."
Regardless of the hiccups though, Jamison said she and her family are taking virtual learning in strides and know that teachers are working their best to make the model run smoothly.