Sep 8, 2020 - Technology

America's great virtual-learning experiment faces glitches nationwide

Andrew Burstein logs onto his eighth-grade class in Delray Beach, Fla.

Andrew Burstein logs onto his eighth-grade class in Delray Beach, Fla. Photo: Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP

An estimated 62% of American schoolkids are starting the year virtually, with many of the rest facing the same fate should caseloads rise in their areas. Only 19% have in-person school every day, with another 18% in hybrid formats, according to a Burbio tracker.

The state of play, via the AP: Three of Texas’ largest school districts were hit with technical problems on the first day of classes, as were school systems in places such as Idaho and Kansas. North Carolina’s platform crashed on the first day of classes last month, and Seattle’s system crashed last week.

The big picture: These problems are particularly acute for parents of young kids.

  • Alessandra Martinez's 7-year-old has struggled with logins, passwords and connection problems, she told AP.
  • He had a meltdown when he was moved to a smaller breakout group but didn’t see the teacher and didn’t know what he was supposed to be doing.
  • “At their age, everything is amplified, and it feels like a big deal,” Martinez said.

The bottom line: Educators and parents alike are doing their best, and hopefully some of these issues can be fixed or minimized.

  • But as with just about every aspect of the coronavirus pandemic, its pain will be felt most by those with the fewest resources.

Go deeper: The COVID-19 learning cliff

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