‘Extremely Frustrated’: A Rocky Start For Some As OKCPS Begins Virtual Semester

Monday, August 31st 2020, 10:43 pm
By: Barry Mangold

Oklahoma City Public Schools kicked off its first online-only semester on Monday. District Superintendent Sean McDaniel said it was a pleasure to see instruction resume. 

“I was so excited just to see teachers with kids in classrooms, though virtual, taking them through lessons,” he said. 

The “unprecedented” online semester did come with some technical challenges. 

At 10:17 a.m. Monday, the district reported a phone outage on its Twitter page. Deputy Superintendent Jason Brown said the outage affected their tech support callers, who were helping families log onto their district-issued devices for class. 

“I always say it was the first day of school, that something was bound to happen, but that’s just my experience with the first days of school,” Brown said. “We problem solved and got information to parents as best we could.” 

Brown said the district had nearly 8,000 online courses up on Monday. 

The online platforms teachers are using to replace traditional courses were constructed in the last few months.

Patrice Cannon, the principal of F.D. Moon Middle School, said teachers stressed to make sure the first day went smoothly.

“(Teachers) had kids in front of them, smiling and delivered instruction, so you wouldn’t have been able to tell that they had those fears a couple of months ago,” she said. 

James Jordan, a grandfather to two Van Buren Elementary students, said technical issues caused them to miss every class on Monday. 

“If I were to give it a scale of one to ten, I'd give it a negative three,” he said. “I feel bad for those parents out there who are not tech-savvy.” 

Jordan described himself as proficient in technology and said he was not able to access any course material before contacting the district. 

After several failed attempts at calling school staff, Jordan said he went to the school and was able to get help logging on. 

He said his grandchildren were “extremely frustrated. I mean, to the point that my 1st grader took off his headphones and just chucked them.” 

McDaniel said Monday afternoon that OKCPS administration is not looking at any structural change with the district’s digital learning platforms. Instead, he said, becoming familiar with online learning will be a process. 

“We just need to learn it and get better at it, and I think that will take care of a lot of issues that we have,” he said. “But we also realize that with technology, no matter how good you are … we’re going to have glitches.” 

OKCPS received its last shipment of Wi-Fi hot spots over the weekend, and will be distributing this week.