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BREAKING: APS Experiencing Technical Issues on First Day of School

(Updated at 2:45 p.m.) Arlington Public Schools reported technical difficulties with its remote learning platform this morning, on the first day of school.

“We are aware that students are having challenges logging into their classes,” APS said in a School Talk email to families around 9:45 a.m. “We are working to address the issues quickly and appreciate your patience. We apologize for the difficulty families have experienced this morning.”

An APS spokesman described the problems as a “firewall issue.”

“We are aware of a firewall issue that is preventing students from logging into Teams,” Frank Bellavia told ARLnow late Tuesday morning. “As soon as we have resolved the issue, we will provide update to families.”

Numerous parents contacted ARLnow with reports of the tech problems.

“APS first day is a disaster. iPad not connecting to Canvas App. No one is answering the technical assistance line,” said one. “What a way to start the year!”

“Almost everyone couldn’t get in on the school provided iPad,” said a Key Elementary parent. “The teachers had to send out a link to the Teams Meeting which eventually worked.”

As of early Tuesday afternoon, Bellavia said the issues have been resolved. Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán issued the following statement around 2:30 p.m.

We sincerely apologize for the system-wide technical challenges many families experienced today, especially with connecting APS devices to Canvas and Microsoft Teams. The Department of Information Services identified that the primary source of the issue was firewall-related, due to the large volume of traffic trying to access Microsoft Teams at one time. We are deploying a solution now.

We knew there would be a high volume of traffic on the first day of school. We believed we had taken all necessary steps to prepare for this in advance, and unfortunately this morning we discovered an additional adjustment was needed. We are refreshing the firewall servers now. Performance has already improved and should continue to improve through the afternoon. We will continue to monitor this tomorrow and throughout this first week to make adjustments when necessary.

There are no additional steps necessary for families. We encourage you to continue trying to log on and to try restarting your child’s device.

Additionally, the phone number we had set up for technology support was quickly overwhelmed due to the same issue, and we have resolved that issue. Families can continue to access our self-help guides on the website and dial 703-228-2570 for additional support. We are sorry for the issues and understand your frustration as we start the year.

I also want to clarify that we were aware of an issue with Global Protect, brought to our attention late last week, and that issue was resolved over the weekend. We will continue to monitor and support families throughout this week and on an ongoing basis.

APS is starting the school year fully remote, with the hopes of at least partially returning to classrooms later this fall.

Few if any major difficulties were reported in the spring as APS students stayed at home and used remote learning tools to reinforce existing lessons. That contrasted with Fairfax County Public Schools, which attempted to teach new material but experienced a technological meltdown that led to the district’s top technology official stepping down.

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