Technical problems for some Dallas ISD students as year begins with remote learning

There were some technical problems Monday morning as Dallas ISD welcomed students back for online learning.

The district reported connectivity problems with its websites and DISD’s phone lines were also down. Tens of thousands of hotspots and electronic devices were distributed for virtual learning.

Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa said many students could not log on for class due to password problems, so DISD doesn't have an accurate attendance number.

“The mistake we made was sending out the 'How to change the password' too late,” Hinojosa said.

Hinojosa said about 10 percent of students, incoming sixth graders who changed schools over the summer, were inadvertently overlooked and still don't have tablets.

“That was something that we should not have overlooked but we didn't catch that,” Hinojosa said.

Sheritha Faggans says she spent the morning emailing with her daughter’s school trying to get her correct schedule.

“It’s a lot of confusion. Her schedule, we were looking at her schedule this morning and she has seven English classes,” Faggans said.

Cynthia Yancy spoke to FOX4 while outside her nephew’s school as they went to exchange his device after a morning full of problems logging on.

“She’s just waiting to hear back on what to do, she hasn’t been able to get anything accomplished, she was able to log in but that’s basically it,” Yancy said.

She says after more than an hour she was able to get her daughters logged on and teachers were patient with catching them up on what they missed. But technology issues prevented her nephew from attending any of his classes.

“If we had any problems, either we could email the technical line or contact several numbers at the school but all the numbers were down so we had a very hard time getting in this morning,” Yancy said.

The district sent out a tweet Tuesday morning addressing some issues it had with the website and phone lines down and several students and parents reported problems logging on.

The district is also still working to get devices to all their students.

“We’re still deploying those devices, I’ve been told we got out 120,000; we’re anticipating 150,000 students so we still have a delta that needs to be accomplished in the next few days,” Hinojosa said.

The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Dallas is trying to help bridge that connectivity gap by offering remote learning centers for students at three locations in lower income communities in East Dallas, West Dallas, and Oak Cliff.

“We have to realize there are family members that do not have access to even the computer to offer virtual learning or they may not be capable of providing the learning instruction kids will need to get off to a good start this fall,” Charles English, President/CEO, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Dallas.

The centers have tutors, computer labs and internet access to help students. So far, about 45 families have signed up for the program to get help with online learning. 

“There could be potentially 15 million kids in the United states that will lose up to six months, some cases a year of learning,” English said.

Parents say they were told the issues they had logging in Monday morning will not count against their child’s attendance and will be an excused absence. 

Dallas ISD says it may still be a few more days before they’re able to sort out Monday’s issues.

Teachers have the option of teaching from home or inside their classrooms.

One of the teachers who will be working out of Eddie Bernice Johnson Elementary on Tuesday is Tessa Williams, a first-year art teacher.

It’s all very much a learning experience for her but she said more than anything she’s looking forward to seeing her students.

“I mean kids bring a lot of joy with them. And I just look forward to seeing them be happy and interact with each other. Obviously it’s going to be a lot different types of interactions that we have when we come back. But you know, I look forward to just seeing them you know be happy and try to enjoy life like before all of this happened to see their friends and everything,” Williams said.

She said one of the many lessons she’ll be exploring with her students is the importance of adapting to new circumstances.

Dallas ISD will allow students who are starting at a new school to return to the classroom beginning on Sept. 28. That includes pre-K and kindergarten students, as well as middle and high school students who are starting on a new campus.

Other students will return to the classrooms on Oct. 5.

The district is urging people to go onto their website and complete a survey letting them know if they’ll be returning to school in-person in a few weeks.

So far, only 20 percent of the district has responded.  About 44 percent of those responses so far have said they’ll be returning in person.

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