New York City Public Schools hit snag while trying to go remote during winter storm

NYC Schools Chancellor David Banks said IBM "was not ready for prime time" when the remote day started with a snag

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
NYC students and teachers struggle to log on for remote learning
Kemberly Richardson has more.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City public schools switched classes to remote learning and closed its buildings Tuesday because of the winter storm, but it got off to a rocky start.

There is a winter storm warning for New York City, Long Island, and much of the Tri-State area which prompted officials to declare a remote learning day.

However, there was a connectivity issue with IBM that was blocking some from logging into remote learning. IBM provides support to validate NYC public school users logging into their systems and to verify their username and password.

IBM added capacity and improvements were rolled out across the system by 9:30 a.m.

Schools Chancellor David Banks said IBM "was not ready for prime time." He said the large numbers logging in at the same time should have come as no surprise to IBM.

"We told them that almost a million students, between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. this morning, would be coming online to go to school and at around that time, they said they were overwhelmed," Banks said. "To say I am disappointed, frustrated and angry is an understatement. I want all parents of our students across the entire city to understand I share the frustration that many of them had to endure from this morning."

IBM released a statement on the issues, saying they worked closely with NYC schools to address the situation and the issues are largely resolved.

"We regret the inconvenience to students and parents across the city," the statement went on to say.

It all happened as the post-pandemic era of remote learning was rolled out in response to the storm. There was some preparation as just a few months ago the Department of Education did a dry run and Banks said things went fine.

In that trial run, students brought their devices to school, which is slightly different than when everyone is at home.

Banks said 850,000 students and teachers were eventually logged on.

"It was as frustrating day for far too many parents and that was unacceptable," Banks said. "This was a test and I don't think we passed this test."

On Monday, the mayor and school officials made the decision to move to remote learning for Tuesday, saying it was the safest thing to do while still allowing students to learn.

Eyewitness News reporter Lucy Yang spoke to some students about the announcement.

Lucy Yang is in Brooklyn with more.

All Catholic Elementary Schools in the Archdiocese of New York closed Tuesday. The day will be a "traditional snow day" with no remote instruction. This includes Catholic schools in New York City and the upper suburban counties.

Archdiocesan High Schools operate independently, so high school families need to follow instructions from their individual schools.

Elsewhere, Yonkers Public Schools closed Tuesday and all afterschool programs, including afterschool child care programming, were canceled.

Check here for more New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut school closings and delays HERE

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