UPDATE: Online learning canceled tomorrow, April 21

Providing a safe virtual learning tool remains a challenge for FCPS


Fairfax County has canceled online learning for the fourth day in a row since virtual classes began on Tuesday, April 14. The program experienced severe interruptions, and The Highlander reported that students at McLean and Langley bombarded classes with explicit messages in online chat rooms and other inappropriate behavior.

The perpetrators used anonymous names, so they would not be recognized and were able to enter classes they were not enrolled in because McLean’s Blackboard Collaborate links were published on Google Classroom for all to see. Alarmingly, had an adult gotten access to the links, they would have been able to enter a chatroom, and no passcode would have been required.

Tomorrow’s cancellation is not a surprise. FCPS recognized its failure to provide a secure link to students in an email sent on April 15 but stated that protecting the system against incidents would “take time and [they] would reassess the situation and provide an update on Friday, April 17.”

Obviously, that update did not occur on Friday and, instead, happened hours before tomorrow’s scheduled distance learning. Their message to families regarding tomorrow’s cancellation included no specific timeline and an indication that “schools [will] begin the transition away from Blackboard.”

In the meantime, bored students are facing yet another disappointment and a growing sense of isolation from their peers.

“I’m sure everyone has complained about remote learning at one point or another,” Senior Class President Sachi Dieker said. “But despite this, somewhere deep down many of us felt that it was nice to interact with our classmates and teachers again. It’s a bonding experience and for that bonding experience to be taken away from us is unfortunate.”

At this point, though, many students are not surprised by what they view to be poor county-wide planning:

“I honestly think [the cancellation] is hilarious and expected because of the lack of initiative FCPS usually has,” senior Analisse Kirby said. “Blackboard should have been updated a while ago.”

Read FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand’s message about the future of distance learning by using the link at the bottom of the page.

Also, click here to read more about what went wrong when online learning was first rolled out!