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Natchez Adams schools have first-day hiccups for virtual learning

NATCHEZ — Natchez Adams School District students returned to school for the fall Wednesday morning, and the first day did not go off without a few technological hiccups.

Not long after the school day started, NASD officials sent out a robo-call to parents advising them of technical difficulties logging into the virtual-learning platform.

“Good morning, NASD parents,” stated the robo-call from Tony Fields, NASD community engagement coordinator. “We are experiencing technical difficulties with Canvas that are beyond our control. We are working with the vendor to get this issue resolved. So, for attendance, please go to the NASD website, www.natchezschools.org, and fill out the virtual learning attendance report for your child’s school…”

In the telephone message, Fields went on to describe in more detail how to find and fill out the attendance reports.

Some 80% of NASD’s students signed up to attend classes online-only this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The other 20% of the district’s students are attending hybrid classes, which meet in-person two days per week and online three days per week.

The virtual learning software for the NASD is provided through Canvas.

When reached later Wednesday morning, Fields said school officials were making progress addressing the technological issues.

“It has gotten better as the morning has gone on,” Fields said. “Each individual is getting technical support so we are just going down the list helping our students.”

Fields said he was not sure how many students were affected by the technical problems Wednesday morning.

“I can’t quite put a number on it,” Fields said. “With just login issues and connectivity I know that over the past two days we’ve helped over 200 students.”

Just before noon Wednesday, Fields said a majority of the students had been helped.

“We do have the majority connected, but it is ongoing,” Fields said. “As issues get reported to us we take that on individually. We are definitely making some good progress in helping get everybody logged in.”

Fields said the technical issues appeared to have been across the board for students logging into Canvas on Wednesday morning, and officials sent out the robo-call because logging into Canvas determines students’ attendance.

“We didn’t want anybody to panic about attendance so we provided a way for parents to go to the website and login the attendance until we got their technical issues worked out,” Fields said. “It is new for all of us so we are just asking that everybody be patient. We have had some great success stories today as well. Students were able to login to the Canvas platform or they were able to login to Google Meet and interact with their teachers so it’s a process but we will work the kinks out and everything will start running smoothly soon.”

Also, Fields said talks between the NASD board attorney Bruce Kuehnle and Durham School Services are ongoing to come up with a contract for Durham to bus students this year after state auditors said a clause in the previous contract that requires the district to pay Durham even if services are not being provided to the district is not allowable.

“They did come to an agreement to run this week,” Fields said. “They are still ironing out the last-minute details. … They are in good talks. The buses rolled this morning with no problems.”