Like many school systems throughout the state Durham Public Schools tweeted Monday morning about problems with the state's portal supporting virtual instruction. Screengrab from Twitter.

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With many of the state’s school districts and all of its biggest ones opting for online-only instruction to start the school year, students and teachers across North Carolina were locked out of several virtual learning programs on the first day of school Monday.

The system, called NCEdCloud, stopped working for several hours in many school districts but appeared largely resolved before lunchtime.

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“The vendor-provider of the NCEdCloud Service confirmed that the product experienced a degradation in service this morning,” a press release from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction said.

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“The vendor will provide an explanation of the root cause once it has identified the source.”

DPI described NCEdCloud as a portal that allows students and teachers to operate other programs, including PowerSchool, Canvas and ImagineMath.

Durham Public Schools reported problems on Twitter shortly after the school day began.

“NCEdCloud, the system used to access PowerSchool and Canvas, is experiencing technical issues across the state, making it difficult for some staff and students to log in. State IT teams are aware of the issue and are working to resolve it,” the Durham Public Schools Twitter account reported Monday morning.

Trying to stem the advance of the new coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, has changed many aspects of public life. Monday’s first day of school occurred remotely for more than two-thirds of the state’s more than 1.4 million public school students.

“Today begins a school year like no other,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools board Chairwoman Elyse Dashew wrote on Twitter at 6:49 a.m. Monday. “Sending grace and love to the students, teachers, staff and parents” of the district and her colleagues on the board.

Two hours later another user tweeted: “Too bad I can’t log on.”

“Apparently NCEdCloud is currently down in districts across the state,” Dashew responded, adding a grimacing face emoji.

Other users — teachers, perhaps students and plenty of parents — replied with memes, curse words and other statements.

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Twitter user @dejaaacb said, “So typical for ncedcloud to be down on the first day. We start in two minutes …” The user’s account says she is a graduate of Eastern Carolina University and is a social studies teacher. “Happy first day to all the NC educators this morning!”

Another user, @knn828, presumably a student, typed in all capital letters — the internet equivalent of yelling: “We all had to wake up mad early just to wake up to NCEdCloud not working. Yall messin up with my sleep schedule with this BS. I’m goin back to sleep.”

Speas Global Elementary in Winston-Salem reported the outage to its followers at 8:35 a.m. Monday.

“Keep refreshing! The tech department is aware,” a message said, then asked users to join a virtual meeting until the problem was solved.

Todd Silberman, a spokesman with NCDPI, said if the company provides a reason for the outage, he hopes to release that information when it is available.

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Kate Martin

Kate Martin is lead investigative reporter for Carolina Public Press. Email her at kmartin@carolinapublicpress.org.

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  1. If this is a hiccup, we’re ignoring a pneumothorax (collapsed lung) – a lack of real high-speed internet for tens of thousands of rural North Carolinians. And still, our legislature does virtually nothing…