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Boise students deal with 'hiccups' as the virtual school year begins

On the Boise School District's first day of the new school year, not everyone was able to login to their classes.

BOISE, Idaho — Monday wasn't the traditional first day of school in the Boise district as the only people in the classrooms were teachers, educating their students online, who are all learning from home.

This virtual format will last for at least three weeks when school officials are hoping the rate of community spread of COVID-19 lessens. In the meantime, BSD spokesperson Dan Holler says the new learning style comes with new hiccups.

One of those hiccups was that not everyone was able to login to class this morning.

"From what we understand, it is on the students' side," Hollar said. "There are some situations on the staff side, but we have some tutorial videos on our Boise Online School webpage that have specific information about how to log in. We have extra staff here at the district services center and also at your information technology help desk to help field some of those login issues associated with devices."

Boise is among hundreds of other school districts across the country that have started the school year online. As a result, the demand for laptops has surged.
Research firm NPD Group reports laptop sales have been 20 to 40% higher every single week since March.

Despite this demand, Hollar clarified that BSD is not experiencing a laptop shortage.

"We have enough devices for those family members who have indicated they need one and those who don't need one they are using their own devices," Hollar said. "Just to shore up our supply and refresh our supply, we have about 13,000 that are hopefully en route in a matter of days that have been ordered in May."

Hollar said the district has also boosted WiFi outside schools to give students the option of learning outside on campus if they don't have an internet connection at home, as long as they maintain a distance from one another.

Last spring, the BSD ordered 500 mobile hotspots for its schools but Hollar said they're hoping to get those soon, but the boosted WiFi is their only option to get students internet access.

"It's not ideal there's no doubt about that, it's not ideal...distribute them as quickly as we can get them here but we understand that not everything is going to be perfect on the first day, it's not always perfect anyway when you have a normal year and here we are in the middle of a pandemic," he said. "And this is new for all of us, new for parents, new for staff and we're looking for grace, we're looking for understanding and we look forward to continuing with the learning as we move forward."

"We know there is no replacement for in-person learning," Hollar said. "Online is great, we are rigorous, we are robust in the curriculum we are offering online but we long to get our students back safely in our schools and that's what we are focused on doing."

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