distance learning

Virtual Classes to Resume Thursday for Arlington Public Schools After Internet Outage

Online classes were cancelled for students Wednesday due to a major fiber cut in Vienna, Virginia, the school district said

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An internet outage led Arlington Public Schools to cancel distance learning on Wednesday for more than 25,000 students, but the school district said virtual classes will resume Thursday.

Arlington Public Schools (APS) said its internet service provider notified the school system on Tuesday of a major fiber cut in Vienna, Virginia, that caused the service disruption.

Arlington, which reported 26,051 enrolled K-12 students in September, has been conducting learning all online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The outage appeared to affect websites including a parent portal and an e-learning platform. Network services for APS were restored about 1 p.m. Wednesday, the school district announced on Twitter.

Meal services have continued as planned, the school district said Wednesday morning.

"We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused and again, thank you for your patience," the school district said on Twitter.

Wednesday was set to be a deadline for many families, including those with pre-K through fifth-grade students, to log on to the ParentVUE website to declare their preference of distance learning or hybrid, in-person learning. That deadline has been moved to Friday, Oct. 23.

Neither the ParentVue website nor the Canvas online learning platform would load about 6:15 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey went inside a classroom in the Arlington Diocese to see how in-person classes are working after the first month.

Staff had limited access to some network services, the school said during the outage.

It's unclear how the major fiber was severed. Arlington School's internet service provider, Crown Castle, did not immediately respond to request for comment.

The school has been planning to bring some students back into classrooms two days a week under a hybrid learning model starting next month.

Superintendent Francisco Durán said Tuesday that the goal is to bring back some students with disabilities on Nov. 4; some pre-K to second grade and Career and Technical Education students starting Nov. 12 and some students in third to fifth grade in early December.

Families can choose to remain in full-time distance learning.

The Arlington County public website was also down on Wednesday morning but has since been restored. County spokesperson Shannon Whalen McDaniel said they were investigating why. It's not clear if it was related to the cut fiber.

This is the second time this month that a cut fiber has disrupted internet service for major public entities in Virginia.

Virginia's Board of Elections voter registration portal went down on Oct. 13, which was scheduled to be the final day of voter registration. Service went down before 9 a.m. and wasn't restored until about 4 p.m.

In that case, a work crew severed the fiber, cutting certain service to multiple agencies.

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