Remote learning for New York City public schools got off to a chaotic start Tuesday with frustrated students and teachers plagued by a slew of technical glitches as they tried to log on for virtual classes during the snowstorm.
Students and educators across the Big Apple were hit with “service unavailable” messages as they attempted to access the Department of Education’s learning systems for the first day of remote learning since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Perhaps the DOE should just let kids have a snow day,” Adam Bergstein, an English teacher at Forest Hills High School in Queens, told The Post.
“But, what do they give us, a system that fails and crashes miserably. The New York City Department of Education has literally screwed up the recipe for ice. That sums up the NYC DOE.”
Others across the city reported issues accessing essential services including Google Classroom, Chromebooks and Zoom, while some teachers said they were struggling to even log into their emails and take attendance.
The Post’s latest coverage on the Northeast Winter Storm
The Department of Education quickly blamed tech company, IBM, for the widespread hiccups.
“We are currently experiencing issues with services that require IBM authentication to login. We are actively working with IBM to resolve,” the department tweeted just 30 minutes into the school day.
“IBM has added capacity and improvements are rolling out across the system,” it later added. “For context: IBM provides support to validate NYCPS users logging in to NYCPS systems (Single Sign On) and verifying the user name and password.”
But furious parents and teachers lashed out at Mayor Eric Adams and DOE officials for not being better prepared before deciding to switch to remote learning — rather than just call a traditional snow day.
“We are real parents who have jobs. My husband is home now dealing with tech issues. The system is a joke. The kids are miserable and there’s almost no snow,” a mom of two elementary students told The Post.
“You can’t pivot to remote, if you aren’t prepared,” a Queens high school teacher added. “I think that if you’re going to pivot to remote you should make sure your server can handle it and you need to ensure every student has a device.”
The backlash comes a day after Hizzoner and Schools Chancellor David Banks defended the decision to shutter city schools and pivot to remote schooling as forecasters warned the Big Apple should brace for up to eight inches of snow.
“If you are a parent, and you are not willing to navigate a computer for your child, that’s a sad commentary,” Adams said at a City Hall briefing announcing the school closures.
“You can’t tell me… you are frustrated about logging on to a computer — that’s not acceptable to me. Our children fell behind during the pandemic. We need to catch up.”
Banks doubled down and insisted the public school system — the largest in the nation — was “more than prepared” for the remote learning shift.
City Council education committee chair Rita Joseph (D-Brooklyn), however, was among those to rip the city’s lack of preparedness in the wake of the widespread issues.
“As an educator who taught during the pandemic in @NYCSchools we are seeing the same thing happen all over again. The lack of preparedness when it comes to technology for our NYC students, educators and staff,” Joseph fired off in a string of tweets.
“At yesterday’s City Hall briefing, I asked if @NYCSchools had their technology prepared for a remote school day. As expected parents and educators are having difficulty logging on to remote learning.”