UPDATE: Teacher-led instruction temporarily canceled

FCPS announces a pause in synchronous online learning due to technical issues


Aleena Gul, Online News Editor

FCPS Superintendent Scott Braband announced the cancellation of teacher-led instruction through Blackboard Collaborate for Thursday, April 16, and Friday, April 17. Classes are expected to resume on Monday, April 20, according to an FCPS statement. 

As coronavirus continues to affect every aspect of life including education, schools have shifted gears to online classes to continue academic learning for the remaining year. FCPS also launched online classes early this week. After two days of intermittent classes, however, the FCPS School Board has decided to postpone classes due to technical issues and safety concerns. 

“Unfortunately, it is necessary to pause this week’s distance learning schedule,” Braband said in a statement. “Technical teams for FCPS and Blackboard believe they have identified the root cause of the connectivity problems and that they involve a software issue. In order to work properly, staff must make necessary updates and patches to the system. On a system as large as FCPS’, these critical updates take time and we will reassess the situation and provide an update on Friday.”

Students have been anxious for the transition from traditional school to online education and some have experienced technical issues through Blackboard Collaborate as unknown users interrupted online classes.  

“I did not experience any difficulties [through Blackboard Collaborate] for the most part. However, I have heard of other classes having difficulties,” sophomore Morgan Wu said. “I know that in several classes, people have spammed racial, homophobic and Islamophobic slurs in the chat or have sent harassing messages to students themselves.”

FCPS is working to resolve the technical issues during the pause to resume classes next week. In the meantime, communication between students and teachers will be through phone calls or emails for students to submit third quarter assignments and other relevant instructions. 

“I hope that during the time that classes are down, the county will be able to fix the many security flaws present in Collaborate,” Wu said. “I also hope the teachers will be able to develop an effective way to teach the material to students in the short time we have left and that online classes will be a safe environment for both students and teachers.”