Zoom disruptions plague schools on East Coast - but many Twin Cities schools use different technology

A massive outage on the remote video conferencing platform Zoom disrupted businesses and students starting their first day school for students up and down the East Coast of the United States.

Zoom reported early Monday morning that users were not able to start Zoom meetings and webinars. The website Downdetector, which tracks internet disruptions, had logged more than 16,000 reports of problems with Zoom before 9 a.m. Nearly 72-percent of the issues were with users failing to log in.  Downdetector’s map of hotspots around the world showed the most disruptions in California, the East Coast, and the United Kingdom.

Zoom worked on fixes across its cloud services and reported the issues had been resolved by noon.

School districts and colleges starting their first week of classes for the fall semester were especially hit.

But many of Minnesota’s largest school districts say they are using different technology for distance learning that will resume in different forms when classes start after Labor Day.

The Anoka Hennepin School District uses Google Classroom to connect with students, not Zoom according to district spokesman Jim Kelly.

Bloomington Public Schools is a different Google platform called Google Meet.  Rick Kaufman, the district’s executive director of community relations says they use Google because if difficult to hack and easier to use. Kaufman says for schools that are using Google’s Chromebooks with their students, they have found that using the Google platforms for distance learning has been fairly seamless.

St. Paul Public schools are also using Google Meet with their students, even though residents passed a referendum several years ago to issue an Apple iPad for every student. St. Paul Schools’ spokesman Kevin Burns says they use Google Meet for the students’ remote learning platform, and Microsoft Teams for the administration.

“We will provide capacity, reliability and consistency that they are going to need," said Burns.

He also says the school district has set up a technology hotline for students and parents to call with issues they may have so they don’t have to come to school or leave the safety of their house during the pandemic.