Minnesota students, educators see some 'glitches' on first day of distance learning

Students and teachers saw some complications in the first day of distance learning for many Minnesota school districts.

Many students started distance learning in kitchens and living rooms across Minnesota Monday, but absent the typical classroom environment, some faced complications.

Gov. Tim Walz, in his daily coronavirus briefing, thanked students and teachers for returning to learning Monday, and urged patience as educators and children alike navigate the new learning style. He issued the closure of Minnesota schools March 14

“Many are using the same technology across the country,” Walz said. “And we know there have been some glitches in that.”

He said the situation may need to “take some working around.”

Some school districts, such as South Washington County Schools and Lakeville Area Schools, posted on Facebook that the Schoology program was having "performance issues." Other districts used the Seesaw program, which also didn't function correctly in some buildings. 

Both vendors said their issues were resolved within about an hour. 

Anoka Hennepin Schools used Google Classroom and reported it worked well on day one. 

In South St. Paul, Connor Murphy was hired as the district's digital learning specialist Feb. 19. He had no idea what was ahead of him as he has spent almost all that time getting devices and software ready, but for some students, the issue was getting them internet access. He estimates about 30 percent of students in his district needed internet access.

Murphy says his district is not trying to replicate how things normally function in those buildings, instead using two-day rotations of four classes per day instead of the usual eight. 

“Teachers, administrators and support staff are totally committed to getting this right, so we appreciate them,” Walz added.

Sunday, parents and educators both shared concerns about how the distance learning format will work for Minnesota kids.

“I guess my biggest concern is that parents are going to feel so overwhelmed by it that they’ll choose to do nothing,” said Maressa Rousslange, a Long Prairie kindergarten teacher.

“A lot of our high school kids might be the grown up at home during the day, so we tried to take that into consideration. We might have older siblings helping kids with the homework,” she added.

Jaye Beckius, a New Prague parent of a first, a fifth and an eighth grader, said she is nervous about the next two months.

“I’m still working outside the home and my husband works for a bank and so he’s still working three days a week and so there will just be days where they’re going to have to navigate this on their own,” Beckius said.