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HISD website appears to crash on first day of virtual classes

Officials say online learning website is operational

HOUSTON – As students in the state’s largest school district started their virtual classes Tuesday, some parents reported having trouble connecting to the district’s website. However, officials said the online learning portal was working.

KPRC 2 attempted to visit the official website for the Houston Independent School District several times Tuesday morning and received a runtime error and a 504 error. Both of these errors are usually indications of a website being overloaded with traffic.

Some parents have also said they were having problems getting logged in to the virtual classrooms.

During a news conference Tuesday, HISD interim superintendent Grenita Lathan addressed the technical issues.

“In this unprecedented school year we must remain flexible and quickly adapt to changing conditions and circumstances like we noticed this morning,” Lathan said. “This morning we noticed some problems with one of our host (for) our internet services and so we have experienced some outages.”

Lathan said the district sent out a link and a callout in English and Spanish to parents so students could access the learning hub.

“The hub is actually not down, it is one of the hosting sites,” Lathan said.

There are about 200,000 students in HISD. They will all be in virtual learning until at least Oct. 19, when some are scheduled to return to in-person learning.

Lathan called this year the “year of flexibility,” so parents, students and teachers should be aware that the Oct. 19 date subject to change based on coronavirus conditions. Once face-to-face learning resumes, Lathan said parents will have the option to opt-out of in-person learning for the semester or whole year.

According to Lathan, about 12,000 students still do not have devices for virtual learning, but that does not mean they will be left behind. The district launched 36 digital learning centers for kids who still do not have what they need to participate in virtual school.

Dozens of HISD elementary school students will also learn and attend school virtually through a program called “Sanctuaries of Learning.”

RELATED: 14 local churches convert into learning centers to help HISD students

At Trinity United Methodist Church and, within weeks, 13 other United Methodist churches, every student will be provided with a laptop computer, a powerful WIFI connection to their schools’ virtual learning system, free breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack and they will be supervised by specially screened, volunteer, student helpers.

The program is a partnership between HISD and the United Methodist Church and is designed to help parents who have to work away from home and can’t stay home and help their kids virtually learn.

It’s also for those kids who don’t have access to a laptop computer and an internet connection.

Watch the full news conference below:

🔴WATCH LIVE: HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan to address district's first day of school

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Tuesday, September 8, 2020

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