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NYC fails controversial remote-learning snow day ‘test,’ public schools chancellor says

It’s the first time NYC Public Schools have implemented remote learning on a snow day since the district introduced the no-snow-day policy in 2022.
Image: Large Winter Storm Brings Snow To The Northeast
People walk through the blowing snow in Manhattan on Tuesday as a large winter storm makes its way across the area in New York.Spencer Platt / Getty Images

New York City's public schools chancellor said the city did not pass Tuesday's remote-learning “test” because of technical issues.

“As I said, this was a test. I don’t think that we passed this test,” David?Banks said at a news briefing, adding that he felt "disappointed, frustrated and angry" as a result of the technical issues.

NYC Public Schools did a lot of work to prepare for the remote-learning day, Banks said, but shortly before 8 a.m. they were notified that parents and students were having difficulty signing on to remote learning.

Follow along for live coverage of the storm

It is the first time the school system has implemented remote learning on a snow day since it introduced the no-snow-day policy in 2022. The district serves 1.1 million students in more than 1,800?schools.

Banks blamed the technical issues on IBM, which helps facilitate the city’s remote-learning program.

“IBM was not ready for prime time,” Banks said, adding that the company was overwhelmed with the surge of people signing on for school.

IBM has since expanded its capacity, and 850,000 students and teachers are currently online, Banks said.

“We’ll work harder to do better next time,” he said, adding that there will be a deeper analysis into what went wrong.

The new system is controversial among parents who lament the end of the snow days of their childhoods, dread a return to the frustrations that remote learning caused during the pandemic and argue that online learning is a far cry from the classroom.

On Monday, Mayor Eric Adams said parents who are not willing to navigate computers for their children’s remote learning represent “a sad commentary.”

Adams defended his words Tuesday, saying they were related to a specific question he was asked about parents who do not want to sign on to remote learning.

“That is not the energy we should be showing right now. Our children have to catch up. They need to be engaged,” he said.

Adams also blamed IBM for Tuesday’s remote-learning issues, saying he hopes the company will be able to provide the product the city is paying it for.

“IBM, I’m hoping this was a teaching moment for them, as well," Adams said.

In a statement, IBM said it has been working closely with New York City Public Schools "to address this situation as quickly as possible."

An IBM spokesperson said, “The issues have been largely resolved, and we regret the inconvenience to students and parents across the city."

New York City Public Schools were the outlier in implementing remote learning during Tuesday's storm. Hundreds of districts in Boston, Connecticut, Philadelphia?and?New York were shuttered for snow days.

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