Updated Feb 13, 2024 - Politics & Policy

NYC's remote learning snow day falls short

nyc snow

Children sled at Brooklyn's Prospect Park as a large winter storm makes its way across the area on Feb. 13. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York City's pivot to remote learning amid a snowstorm on Tuesday was met with hiccups and frustration.

The big picture: As the biggest snowstorm in more than two years hit NYC, the district tested – and somewhat botched – a switch to pandemic-era online instruction, fueling a debate among parents on whether districts should opt for snow days instead.

What's happening: The district announced Monday morning that all New York City public schools would close Tuesday due to expected severe weather conditions, and instruction would take place remotely.

  • As students tried to log on to class Tuesday morning, some were unable to access the system.

Driving the news: Chancellor David Banks blamed the glitch on IBM, saying the tech company did not expand its capacity despite being notified in advance that more than a million students and teachers would be logging in from 7:30am to 8am.

  • "The capacity should have been at full expansion from the very beginning," Banks said during a news briefing.
  • He said Tuesday's online learning was a test, and "I don't think that we passed this test." The chancellor said there would be a full analysis to see what took place to prevent it from happening again on future remote days.

What they're saying: "To say that I am disappointed, frustrated, and angry is an understatement," Banks said. "I want all parents of our students across the entire city to understand that I share the frustration that many of them had to endure."

  • Mayor Eric Adams called it a "teaching moment" for both the city and IBM.
  • "Remote learning's going to be with us for a while," Adams said. "The goal is to get perfection, and there's a journey to get perfection."

An IBM spokesperson told Axios the company "has been working closely with New York City schools to address this situation as quickly as possible."

  • The issues have been largely resolved, the spokesperson said, "and we regret the inconvenience to students and parents across the city."

Where it stands: By noon, about 850,000 students and teachers were able to log on, the chancellor said.

  • Schools are scheduled to reopen in person on Wednesday, per the district.

Go deeper: Winter storm alerts in effect for 40 million in Northeast, Mid-Atlantic

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from IBM.

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