Some technology issues as more Kansas schools begin classes

Schools Switch To Online Learning As Pandemic Grows

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Students and teachers facing an already challenging new school year dealt with technology issues as more Kansas school districts reopened Tuesday with many students working online.

In Olathe, service was interrupted Tuesday morning when nearly 50,000 users on separate devices tried to log on to the district’s online teaching system that is designed for 30,000 students, school officials said.

The district’s middle and high school students were using only remote learning, while elementary students started with a hybrid of online and in-person classes.

The district had previously increased its bandwidth. After more servers were added, the disruption was cleared by mid-morning Tuesday, said spokesman Cody Kennedy, who declined to speculate on why traffic on the system was so unexpectedly heavy.

In Wichita, where students in sixth through 12th grades were only online and elementary students started with the hybrid model, the district had enough devices for online students but still needed hotspots for some of them, Superintendent Alicia Thompson told KAKE-TV.

The district had reserved about 3,500 hotspots and by Tuesday morning had passed out about 5,300, said Thompson, and will continue to provide them as they become available.

On Monday, Gov. Laura Kelly expressed concern the number of confirmed coronavirus cases would soar as more schools reopen.

State health officials said as of Friday, colleges accounted for 27 coronavirus outbreaks and 420 cases, but no deaths. Five school clusters have resulted in 39 cases and no deaths, according to the latest numbers available.

Kelly also said she planned to seek renewal of a state COVID-19 emergency declaration, which is set to expire next week.

Under a compromise with the Republican-led Legislature reached in June the State Finance Council must approve such extensions.

Kelly noted the state continues to see an increase in COVID-19 cases, with 1,694 more confirmed cases reported Monday, along with four deaths.

“We still have an emergency here,” Kelly said. “Just because Sept. 15 comes does not mean that the emergency is going to go away. It is absolutely imperative that we extend the declaration.”

The order prevent interruptions in disaster response and many contend it ensures federal relief funds continue to flow, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Some Republican lawmakers argue the guidance from the federal government indicates a declaration isn’t necessary to get that aid.