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Anaheim Union High School District pivots after technical difficulties on opening day

The Anaheim Union High School District received a lesson on Wednesday, Aug. 12, about just how fragile the distance-learning model can be.

On the first day of its 2020-21 school year, the district had to shift to an alternate virtual platform after an internet outage the day before made its regular learning site temporarily unavailable, a district spokesman confirmed Wednesday.

The outage was caused by a fire, one near the Orange County Department of Education building, John Bautista, spokesman for the district, said. “Crazy, right?”

The outage temporarily took down the district’s learning management platform, Schoology, an online tool also used by the Tustin Unified School District to help teachers contact students with homework and updates.

Anaheim Union officials decided Tuesday to have its teachers and roughly 30,000 students pivot to Google Meets, a video communication service from Google.

The switch allowed the district to begin its year on time after some understandable stress and schedule adjustments.

“School wasn’t canceled,” Bautista said. “Luckily, (we) have another platform.”

The outage did force some teachers to scrap plans for a day of “synchronous” learning, or scheduled time when they and students would be online together. That connection is one of the main goals of distance learning this school year.

At Cypress High, teachers met virtually with only their homeroom or Period 2 classes. The schedule mirrored the plan of an “asynchronous day” or time when students receive an assignment from teachers and work on their own.

Cypress health teacher Rick Feldman said 32 of his 36 students joined him on Google Meets on Wednesday, with one student reporting difficulty logging on. Feldman said that student will be receiving a Chromebook from the district to help resolve the issue.

“It was fine,” Feldman said of his class. “I think the district did a really good job adjusting on the fly.”

At Western High, administrators and counselors tried to simplify the day by hosting sessions on Google Meets according to grade level and the alphabetical order of students.

They discussed Schoology, scheduling and issues related to the coronavirus pandemic, said Dan Davidson, who teaches life management and physical education at Western.

The school reported about 95 percent attendance, Davidson said.

“Really an amazing job by our principal, Amy Kwon, to orchestrate that,” he said. “It’s the Western way: Always finding a way.”

The district’s access to Schoology was restored in the early hours Wednesday and officials worked throughout the day on correcting duplicate classes showing up on the platform.

“This is probably not just going to happen to us, but to other districts,” Bautista said of the challenges of distance learning. “We’ll see how it goes.”

Source: Orange County Register

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