By the numbers: Here’s how the first day of virtual school went in Orange County

Superintendent says volume of students caused technical problems

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Thousands of Orange County Public Schools students logged on to the LaunchEd platform Monday morning to begin the semester as concerns about the coronavirus continue.

OCPS Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins acknowledged Monday afternoon that students and teachers alike experienced some technical glitches but overall, she said the process went well and she expects it to get even better as time goes on.

[READ: 4 things Orange County Public Schools wants parents to know before Monday | Everything you need to know about Orange County’s back-to-school plan]

“Quite frankly, for our first day, we thought it went phenomenally well. We expected some glitches and slowdowns but the response was pretty incredible,” Jenkins said.

She said all in all, 212,000 students were supposed to log on Monday to the LaunchEd platform to complete their classes virtually.

It’s unclear how many of them did so, especially since there is no penalty for students who miss the first nine days of the semester when classes in Orange County are held online only, but Jenkins did provide some other statistics detailing just how much volume the system saw.

“During the heaviest period -- listen to these numbers, they are a bit daunting -- 756,000 launches of our application in OCPS took place today by 3 p.m. The vendor continues to monitor and adjust servers to improve system performance. As per video conferencing, around 9 a.m. we had reached 4,000 simultaneous concurrent sessions being conducted by our teachers with their students,” Jenkins said.

[RELATED: Orange County families have trouble connecting to LaunchED for first day of school | Here’s what to expect on the first day of LaunchEd for Orange County students]

That sheer volume, she said, was the root cause of many of the technical issues parents reported on Monday. She said the district worked with its service provider AT&T to prepare for surges and increase bandwidth.

“We did experience some system slowdowns first thing this morning. There was a period of about 20 minutes or so where backup servers were turned on, and our vendor reacted. Also something they call redirect servers around 10 a.m., that’s when high schoolers came on first thing and then when middle schoolers were added to the flow, Canvas experienced some slowdowns as expected,” Jenkins said.

She offered a few tips for parents who experience problems throughout the school day:

  • Check with your internet service provider to ensure that the error isn’t on your end
  • Turn the device off and then turn it back on after about a minute
  • Try to keep students calm
  • Contact your child’s school and ask to speak with a technology service representative

All Orange County students will continue online learning on LaunchEd until Aug. 21. At that point, students will resume the semester using whichever learning option they selected: in person, LaunchEd or Orange County Virtual School.

Jenkins thanked students, parents, and teachers for their patience as they navigate a semester unlike any before.

Orange County School Board Chair Teresa Jacobs said she knows things are not going to be easy.

“We’re going to help you get up and running, we’re not going to let your child go without an education. That is not an option for us,” she said.

Jacobs hopes the online system improves this week.

“The goal is to have every child connected from the moment they click on to that moment they click off seamlessly, no interruptions, that’s our goal,” she said.

To read more about Orange County’s reopening plan, click here.

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