Snow day snafu: NYC parents fume over remote learning system failure for public school students


Public school students and their parents tried unsuccessfully to log on to remote learning early Tuesday morning as the NYC Department of Education continued to experience technical difficulties well into the first half of the snowy school day.

The DOE announced Monday that remote learning for NYC public school students would be in effect Tuesday due to the snow  — but nothing went as planned Tuesday morning.

Parents flocked to X, Facebook and other social media to express their frustration at the system failure. Many spent hours trying to log on to a variety of platforms, including Google Classroom and Zoom, as early as 8 a.m., to no avail.   

“We are currently experiencing issues with services that require IBM authentication to login,” the DOE posted on X at around 8:22 a.m. “We are actively working with IBM to resolve. We will provide an update as soon as possible.”

The public schools use IBM to validate users logging into the system, according the X post, which could point to a system failure caused by too many people logging in at once. 

Schools Chancellor David Banks had assured New Yorkers during a news conference on Monday that the agency and the city were well prepared for a remote-learning school day.

“We feel really good about this,” the chancellor said during the press conference. “We’ve taken some time as a school system to do simulations and prepare for this. It’s one of the good things that, in fact, emerged from the pandemic, was our preparedness to be ready for moments like this. And I think the school system is more than prepared.”

Now, many parents are saying the agency — which is the country’s largest public school district — should have done better. 

“The city wanted to make sure families were prepared for remote readiness and clearly they themselves weren’t,” one NYC parent said on social media. “They had four years to work out all the kinks.”

As parents and students continued to make several login attempts all morning, they were met with a barrage of “service unavailable” error messages.

“I keep getting the same message,” said Daniela Alaimo, a mother from Staten Island.

Remote learning log-in error message
A screenshot of the log-in error public school students and parents received while attempting to log on for remote learning on Feb. 13, 2024.

When amNY reached out to the DOE for comment, we were directed to the department’s X page where an update at 9:27 a.m. read, “IBM has added capacity and improvements are rolling out across the system.”

But as of 10 a.m. Tuesday, parents were still upset at the chaos, questioning whether a remote learning day was even necessary. 

“I think they did it just to say, ‘Hey, we offered a remote day to keep everyone safe,’” said Rachel Newfield Cugini, whose son attends New Dorp High School on Staten Island. “The reality is no teacher was ever going to hold a Zoom class to teach, so what’s the point? Just to sign on for attendance and say we had all these kids logged on?”

Cugini eventually told her son to go back to sleep, as there were still no updates from the DOE. 

Other parents eventually gave up, choosing instead to tell their kids to enjoy the day. 

“This whole thing is silly. A snow day equals no school,” one NYC mom wrote on Facebook. “The mayor shouldn’t make decisions for your kids. Teachers and students should stop logging on and it would stop. Let the school mark them absent.”

Other New Yorkers are taking a more playful approach to the chaos, basking in the traditions of a snow day.

“Go into the kitchen and make hot cocoa,” one social media user commented. “Turn on the TV with their favorite cartoon and show them what a snow day is supposed to be.”


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