FWCS working through technology issues, with ‘pretty high likelihood’ of schools closing

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — In the second full week of classes, Fort Wayne Community Schools is working through several technology glitches as the district adjusts to remote learning.

A district spokesperson told WANE 15 that officials are working to keep kids online because it’s possible – even likely – that schools will close again due to the ongoing coronavirus threat.

“It’s been going pretty well. Certainly there are some frustrations the first few days as we all learn how to manage this process, but everyday we’re getting a little better,” said Krista Stockman, the public information officer for FWCS. “It is a learning experience for everyone.”

This fall FWCS distributed 30,000 devices and 9,000 MiFi portable hot spots. The hot spots are to help the families who don’t otherwise have internet access, which, according to Stockman, was about one third of FWCS families this past spring.

All students have a device now, regardless if they chose in-person, remote or hybrid learning. Kindergarten through second graders have iPads and third through twelfth grade students have laptops.

“But there have been some hiccups and technology glitches that you’ll see when you use technology day in and day out,” Stockman said.

For example, on Monday, Zoom experienced partial outages and disruptions that prevented many customers from being able to log into the software, which impacted some FWCS students. The district also uses a technology company that, in the process of fixing an issue for students using Microsoft devices, broke something for students that use iPads.

FWCS’s ‘Tech on Duty’ onsite support is offered the next two weeks on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 – 6 p.m.

“When you use technology, especially when you’re using third party programs, if they go down, we go down,” Stockman said.

Other hiccups FWCS is dealing with: getting students familiar with using computers, making sure they’re able to connect to Internet, making sure teachers learn the new technology, and working out how to lesson plan remotely.

“All things that are manageable but when you’re doing it all at once, it seems like a lot,” Stockman said.

To help teachers adjust, on Wednesday there will be a two-hour delay for students, so teachers can have time to really focus on their remote lessons and learning the technology.

“Tech on Duty” is also being offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the next two weeks. It will allow parents or students to go to the school and talk with a technician in person about anything they have questions about or are uncomfortable with.

Stockman said there’s a “pretty high likelihood” of schools shutting down and all students having to learn remotely full time, so the district wants to make sure its ready for if and when that happens. She said the district has seen other school districts and universities stop in-person learning due to the virus, and health experts have expressed concerns about the approaching flu season on top of that.

“If we can stay in school for the year, we’d be happy to do that, but we want to be prepared in case that doesn’t happen.”

Nearly 35 percent – just over 10,000 students – chose remote learning. According to Stockman, FWCS has seen a pretty even amount of students who started off learning remotely switch to in-person, and vice versa.

If a student is unhappy with their choice, Friday is the deadline to change their mind.

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