North Carolina Virtual Learning System Crashes on First Day of School

August 17, 2020 Updated: August 17, 2020

The first day of the new school year in North Carolina started with frustration after a statewide virtual learning system crashed, denying students and teachers access to online classes for hours.

NCEdCloud, the system used as a portal to other popular online learning platforms such as PowerSchool and Canvas, experienced an overload and crashed on Monday morning after students across the state tried to log in at the same time, school districts reported. The system remained down for about three hours until 11 a.m., when the technical issue was finally resolved.

Not all districts experienced the NCEdCloud crash. Wake County Public Schools, the largest district in the state, did not report any issues with logging into the system.

“The NC Department of Public Instruction received reports this morning that teachers and students were having problems logging-in to NCEdCloud,” North Carolina Department of Public Instruction said in a statement. “The vendor-provider of the NCEdCloud Service confirmed that the product experienced a degradation in service this morning.”

“The vendor will provide an explanation of the root cause once it has identified the source,” the statement read. “In the meantime, the service is now working.”

Some Republicans, citing the incident, criticized Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s school reopening plan, which requires school districts to either exclusively offer remote learning, or rotate students between in-person and online instruction to reduce classroom capacity.

“Hearing stories like this throughout North Carolina as the school year starts for a majority of students today,” Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who is running against Cooper for governor in the Nov. 3 general election, wrote on Twitter. “Just one more reason why families should be given the choice to have their children in the classroom.”

Republican state senate leader Phil Berger also cited the NCEdCloud failure in arguing that the State Board of Education shouldn’t have disapproved a proposal last week that would have allowed the state’s two virtual charter schools to increase their enrollments by as many as 3,800 students for the new school year. The virtual charter schools, despite poor performance, have 9,500 students on their waiting lists, largely due to high demands for virtual learning by parents who are concerned about in-person learning amid the ongoing pandemic.

“Meanwhile, the virtual charter schools, which @NC_Governor-controlled Board of Education prohibited from expanding, are fully up and running,” Berger wrote on Twitter. “The consequences of the State Board choice to deny additional educational opportunities are already on full display.”