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Fairfax County schools transition away from Blackboard for distance learning, parents voice frustrations with issues

This decision to seek other learning services comes after technical issues with Blackboard delayed students from starting virtual distance learning.

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — Fairfax County Public Schools officials announced that they are moving away from using Blackboard Learn 24-7 after students and parents experienced technical issues accessing the virtual learning website.

The Superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools released a statement to parents and the school community saying that they've decided that they will no longer use Blackboard as a means to do face-to-face instruction. But, students will continue to use the platform as a way to access instructional resources and support.

RELATED: Fairfax County schools' distance learning continues with multiple technical issues

The school system is working to provide virtual learning through either a secure Blackboard link or an alternative learning service, Dr. Braband, Superintendent of Fairfax County Schools said.

What learning service the school system plans to use is still unclear. Teachers will be contacting their students in the next coming weeks with virtual learning opportunities and updates, Braband said.

The school system will continue to provide face-to-face teaching during the transition away from Blackboard Learn 24-7.

This decision to seek other learning services comes after technical issues with Blackboard delayed students from starting distance learning in the school system.

Lucy Caldwell, Director of News and Information for Fairfax County Public Schools, released a statement Monday morning regarding the continuing technical issues with their online system.

"This morning has been a challenge regarding access to Blackboard 24/7. Some users were able to access the system early however as the volume increased, we received word that access was intermittent or slow, in some cases requiring multiple logon attempts. Once inside the system, Blackboard Collaborate worked well," Caldwell said. "Distance learning is continuing as teachers are providing instructional opportunities to students through other tools, including Google classroom, pre-recorded videos, learning packets, eBooks, and other approved digital resources as well as directing students to Channels 21, 25, and 99."

Fairfax County Public Schools began its first day of virtual distance learning on April 14, but Blackboard had several outages throughout the day disrupting classes. The district also experienced overloading with the distance learning website.

Board members and school officials said the failure of the distance learning system was in part their fault.

Caldwell said the district has a $2.6 million annual contract with Blackboard, which includes an extra $150,000 a month for the extra work being done during the shutdown. Caldwell said that extra money was agreed upon before the system failed. 

RELATED: Virginia coronavirus updates: Peak in cases expected this week, work group formed to shore up testing gaps

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