Polk e-learning students face scheduling delays, technical issues, parents say

Polk County

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – On its second day of school, Polk County Public Schools has reported two confirmed coronavirus cases in the school system.

According to a new COVID-19 communications website, there is a case involving a student, staff, or faculty member at Boone Middle School in Haines City and one case at Bartow High School, Bartow IB, or Summerlin Academy.

This comes as the district apologized for the technical issues e-learning families have dealt with this week.

“We understand this first day of school has been frustrating for many eSchool families, but we ask that you at least complete the first week of school before considering changing your learning format,” wrote the district in a statement.

The district’s new tech support hotline received nearly 9,000 calls on Monday. Many callers were disconnected after waiting for long periods of time.

The district said the issue was resolved and no calls were disconnected, as of Tuesday afternoon.

But some technical issues persisted.

One parent sent 8 On Your Side a picture of an “empty folder” screen where the assortment of the student’s courses should be available.

Another parent had the same issue and wrote on social media “very disappointed in e-learning.”

“Neither one of them has a complete schedule,” said Laura Kelley, a mother of twin 10th grade girls at Bartow High School.

The twins, Lainey and Zoey, were born premature and have underlying health conditions that make them vulnerable to coronavirus.

They are still missing core classes from their schedules.

“One of my daughters she literally didn’t really do anything because she didn’t have anything scheduled for first period,” she said. “Her third period she was marked as a no-show however that class doesn’t even have an assigned teacher.”

Kelley told 8 On Your Side when she alerted Bartow High School she was told, due to social distancing requirements, campus learners were the priority.

“They’re going to be put on the back burner and then they’re not gonna get access to the classes that they need and that’s not fair when I kept them home because of underlying health problems,” said Kelley.

8 On Your Side asked school representatives about the scheduling concerns.

“The parent of any student who does not have a schedule (whether face-to-face learning or online learning) should reach out to their child’s school directly for assistance with getting a schedule finalized,” said Jason Geary, a spokesperson.

Other technical issues were related to Zoom and Microsoft Teams apps not installed on computers. Parents can now install the apps for their children under the Self-Service icon.

Some students who previously used Schoology, the district’s learning management system, had multiple accounts that had not been merged.

“In other cases, students had trouble logging in because they weren’t entering their entire email address, or their password was case sensitive, or their password simply had to be reset. Technology staff members continue to work through these issues on a case-by-case basis,” wrote a district spokesperson in an email to 8 On Your Side.

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