“It’s Deja Vu All Over Again”: Yogi Berra Said It; FCPS Parents Are Thinking It; Tech Issues Strike Again

It’s deja vu all over again.

~Yogi Berra, New York Yankees Hall of Famer

Just when you thought it was safe to start school again . . .

At least one principal in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), VA sent notice Sept. 2, 2020, that FCPS is again running into tech issues.

This Spring, FCPS’ tech failures made national news.

Not only was their online launch a disaster, their online re-launch was a disaster.

And now, just a week before FCPS launches for the 2020-21 school year. . . . Deja Vu.

In an April 15, 2020, article, Washington Post reporter Hannah Natanson wrote:

Late Wednesday, superintendent Scott Brabrand emailed Fairfax families to announce he was pausing online school until Monday to allow officials time to address “a software issue” that was causing connectivity problems, as well as train teachers on software upgrades.

Brabrand said staffers worked for weeks to debut the Blackboard learning program, and that there had been no indication the system would be “unable to handle the volume of participating users or … susceptible to the security issues that many of our schools encountered.”

But “as you know,” he wrote, “the start of distance learning has not gone as smoothly as hoped.”

The division is working with Blackboard to add “enhanced security features.” Caldwell said the cancellation of school will also give teachers more time to “make security modifications” to their individual Blackboard accounts.

This debacle caught the eye of a Governor Cuomo staffer, who contacted a Governor Northam staffer, who contacted a Virginia Department of Education staffer, who contacted Fairfax County Superintendent Scott Brabrand with an offer of help with messaging. (See “Crisis Management Messaging: Gov. Cuomo’s, Gov. Northam’s, VDOE’s, and FCPS’ Staff on “Distance Learning”“) Reminds me a bit of that old children’s rhyme There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.

And then FCPS launched again—and Hannah wrote another article for the Post, parents emitted a collective groan across the county, and kids cheered as they would for a snow day.

FCPS advised that it was bringing in a law firm that specializes in tech (and failed to mention this firm is also on the job for other high-profile FCPS-related lawsuits) and that a report on what went wrong would be forthcoming.

To date, I’ve not seen the report, and to my knowledge it hasn’t been released.

Yet, what has happened is: Deja Vu All Over Again.

Not exactly a confidence-builder as we head into the 2020-21 school year.

Click on the image above to view document in full.
Click above image to zoom in. This is a 9.2.20 screen shot from Blackboard’s site, for its SIS page.

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