As New School Year Begins in Tennessee, Problems with Zoom and Other Virtual Learning Programs Await


Technical glitches and other unforeseen problems nationwide could interrupt your child’s virtual classroom sessions, as students in Williamson County learned this week.

Zoom, which provides video conference services, malfunctioned Monday morning, according to the Williamson County School (WCS) System’s Facebook page.

But that wasn’t the only technical hiccup.

WCS officials also announced Monday that Edgenuity, an online learning resource, had failed and needed an engineering team to repair it.

School System spokeswoman Carol Birdsong told The Tennessee Star Tuesday that the problem with Zoom was a global one.

“I haven’t heard of any Zoom issues today,” Birdsong said in an email Tuesday.

The Star asked Birdsong what assurances she could give parents and students that Zoom would work as intended and successfully replace, even for a short time, an in-person classroom.

Birdsong would not say.

For roughly two-and-a-half hours Monday morning, many users nationwide were unable to load the Zoom website. Others could neither host nor join scheduled meetings. Zoom fixed the problem by 11:30 a.m. ET, the company reported on its status page.

The timing was less than ideal, since many schools across the United States were just starting online instruction after a summer surge in the coronavirus pandemic scotched many plans to reopen classes with students present in the flesh.

Zoom did not disclose the cause of the problem, which appeared to hit both coasts of the United States especially hard. Its shares fell less than 3 percent during regular trading.

Grade schools, high schools and universities are relying on Zoom and competing technologies like Microsoft Teams to teach remotely and reduce the chance of infection during the pandemic. Schools began opening over the past month with a wide array of in-person, hybrid and online schooling plans.

In 2019, during a normal school year, about 80 percent of elementary and secondary schools had opened by the last week of August, according to Pew Research.

Internet services from Facebook to Amazon go down all the time, but few have become so crucial to companies, government and schools that their absence can spur brief moments of panic. These days, when Zoom goes down, it’s more like a power outage or phones going dead, making it a modern sort of utility for a nation still enduring the ravages of COVID-19.

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Mae Anderson writes for The Associated Press. Chris Butler contributed to this report. Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]






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3 Thoughts to “As New School Year Begins in Tennessee, Problems with Zoom and Other Virtual Learning Programs Await”

  1. 83ragtop50

    I lay the blame for this failed experiment at the feet of Governor Lee and his leftwing Director of Schools. They are both disasters.

  2. rick

    Virtual learning another Democratic created fiasco verging on child abuse. Open up schools and if a child test positive send them home they have the flu, do not hold all of the students hostage like our ignorant Commie Mayor Pooper Cooper has done Nashville. People like this liberal nut that is head of the Dept of Education under Gov Lee are the ones that need to be locked away to protect society from them. Teachers Unions, Democrats, and liberal psychos have ruined public education

    1. John

      Rick I agree with you for the most part, but the teacher’s union inside Tennessee has no actual power. It’s been that way for several years. Although the liberal media is wrong 99.9% of the time, even conservative media outlets/talk shows get it wrong.