North Charleston mother misses work, calls virtual learning an ‘epic fail’

VIDEO: North Charleston mother misses work, calls virtual learning an ‘epic fail’

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Tens of thousands of Charleston County students logged on for their first day of school Tuesday, but for some, technology problems prevented them from being able to join their classes.

Valarie Brown, a mother of three, said she had to miss work Tuesday and had to leave early Wednesday to help her kids with virtual learning. None of them ended up being able to sign on for their first day. They are among the 35,000 students in the county who started the year online.

“Yesterday was an epic fail," Brown said on Wednesday. “No one was able to log on to their Chromebooks. The school actually gave us a tech number to contact just in case something went wrong. I stayed on hold for four hours, and I never got in contact with anyone.”

Brown’s youngest children in third and eighth grade were able to get on for their second day, but she said her oldest in tenth grade won’t be able to start until Thursday because of problems with the system.

“He already has missed two days of school, still can’t get in contact with teachers, because no teachers are calling back," she said. "At this point, I don’t know what to do.”

Brown plans to send her children back in person when their schools allow more students to return.

“Virtual isn’t what I thought the virtual would be," she said. “At first I thought the virtual would be something good and protect them from the COVID, but I can protect them by making sure they wear their masks, they wash their hands, and they stay six feet apart.”

The school district’s hotline, which Brown said she has tried to call, is running all week to answer questions from students and parents, and Tuesday, some of the top inquiries were about technology. The top concerns included not being able to log in, inability to see class content and assignments, and unable to get on Zoom.

“If students are not seeing content upon logging in to Canvas, it is possible the information has not been posted at the school level,” spokesperson Andy Pruitt said. “Students and parents can email their teachers to let them know they are not seeing the course. We are working with staff to ensure the content is accessible in our learning management system, Canvas.”

The district also has a parent info page with other resources. The technology help desk number is 843-849-3400, and the family support helpline is 843-937-6311.

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