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New York restarted distance learning for one day. It was a mess.

New York City public schools embarked on their first major experiment with remote learning since the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday. More than 900,000 students were invited to join virtual classes during the winter storm.

It didn’t go well.

Many teachers, parents and students trying to connect found themselves locked out of their classrooms. Instead of joining their video conferences, they received an error message: “The service you are trying to reach is temporarily unavailable. »

“It seems like a very large problem,” said Jay Brown, a parent in South Brooklyn who was trying to help his children get online as he tried to work from home.

He added: “I know it’s a huge undertaking. But the preparation simply seems insufficient. »

Mayor Eric Adams said the disarray would serve as a “teaching moment” for the city.

“Remote learning is going to be with us for a while,” Adams said. “The goal is to achieve perfection, and there is a path to achieving perfection.”

On social media, dozens of people described a chaotic morning that brought back their worst memories of pandemic-era education.

“It’s a total disaster,” Sam Green, who chose to take his 7-year-old son to McCarren Park to play in the snow, said in an interview. “I texted the teacher, ‘Am I the only one having problems?’ And no, the whole system has broken down, even the director can’t continue.

Students hung around during their first classes, cameras off, waiting for professors who had been unable to connect. Some were only able to continue after refreshing their site several times. Others were excluded from online meetings. As parents and educators took on the role of makeshift tech support, several schools canceled meetings and classes altogether until at least 10 a.m., unable to even attend classes.

One parent said that by 8:45 a.m., their family had already opted out of remote learning for the day, joining others who opted to declare a full snow day.

As of midday Tuesday, the school’s chancellor, David C. Banks, said about 850,000 students and teachers had been able to log in. (The system has approximately 915,000 children and 75,000 educators.)

As the school day began, the Department of Education blamed the chaos on problems with services that require authentication by technology company IBM, which Banks said “wasn’t ready for prime time.” listen “.

“To say I’m disappointed, frustrated and angry is an understatement,” he added. “It was a test. I don’t think we passed that test.

IBM did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The school system had tested remote learning earlier this winter, but Banks said the company was not involved in those simulations.

Some students and teachers were able to log in without any problems. Alan Cohen, a Central Queens parent, asked his children, who are in kindergarten and third grade, to set up their devices Monday evening — and they successfully joined their virtual rooms.

Their classmates were not so lucky: “At first there were three kids,” Mr. Cohen said, adding that WhatsApp groups for parents at the school and individual classes were “blowing up.”

“The idea that every kid is going to be in all of their classes, all day, has kind of disappeared,” he said.

The city purchased more than 550,000 children’s iPads and 175,000 Chromebook laptops during the pandemic, and the era of remote learning it ushered in prompted many school districts nationwide to forgo furlough days traditional due to winter conditions.

But Tuesday’s debacle is sure to provoke a wave of protests in New York. Shekar Krishnan, a city councilman who represents parts of northern Queens, wrote on social media that the administration “should have given them the damn snow day!” »

This is exactly what some schools that are not administered by the Ministry of Education do.

“It’s just an old-fashioned snow day,” said Arthur Samuels, founder of a charter high school in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood.

“Too many students are left to care for younger siblings, and we know how poor distance learning is,” Samuels said on social media. “We’ll see everyone in person again tomorrow. Enjoy the snow!

Olivia Bensimon reports contributed.

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