AUSTIN (KXAN) — Zoom, the videoconferencing program that has exploded in usage during the COVID-19 pandemic, reported Monday morning partial outages in its meeting and video webinar functionality.
Another learning platform, Canvas, used by local school districts says it also experienced slow service.
Canvas is seeing significantly higher usage rates than usual from schools coming back online this week — nearly a 2X increase in concurrent users from what we saw at the height of the COVID-19 challenges in the spring. This sudden growth in usage created a few issues for our infrastructure. We’re sorry for the challenges this is causing. We are working with those customers who are reporting slowness and long load times and are actively working to scale up to meet the demands of school systems around the country as quickly as possible.Cory Edwards, Canvas spokesperson
Canvas tells KXAN service was back to normal as of 3:30 p.m.
According to Zoom’s website, they started receiving reports about users not being able to access meetings and webinars around 7:51 a.m. Central. As of 10:10 a.m., the company’s website indicated all issues had been resolved.
The outages delayed the start of classes at St. Edward’s University, however, and officials there want students to know they need to check with professors about their classes, and not just assume they are canceled. Officials are trying to get alternative videoconferencing options like Google Meet online so future classes can go uninterrupted, they said in an email.
Texas State also confirmed they are having technical issues using the web browser version. They are joining from the Zoom smartphone app is working for them, however. Those issues came after the initial problems and were reported on Zoom’s website around 9:15 a.m.
“There was an initial, you know my heart sank,” says Holly Wise, a senior lecturer of journalism at Texas State University.
Wise says she encountered the problem when she tried to sign on to teach her first class scheduled for 9:00 a.m.
At 8:55 a.m., she says she quickly set up the class on another platform and emailed students the new link.
“Thankfully about half of them were able to access the new platform. The other half weren’t able to and that’s unfortunate, but we look forward to seeing them on Wednesday when we meet again,” she says.
Wise says she’s structured her class so that the materials are available to students before class-time.
“There isn’t a gap in terms of the material that is given to them. There is the glitch of not being able to have that face to face interaction, for a moment,” she says.
But the professor says it’s a good lesson in having a contingency plan for the future–both for other professors as well as students.
The university tells us despite the Zoom issue, overall most staff reported the first day of the semester went well. The school says it feels confident in the systems and technology in place.
“We’ve made a lot of adjustments and investments in technology over the last few months. So at this point, we feel like it will serve us well,” said Assistant Vice President of Communications and University Advancement Sandy Pantlik. “Of course, we will monitor the situation, talk to our students and faculty and make sure the needs are being addressed.”
42% of Texas State classes are exclusively online, and about 20% are in person. The rest are a mixture of both.
According to the website DownDetector.com, Zoom outages heavily impacted the East Coast of the U.S., as well as in Europe, specifically London, England.
Tech problems fuel calls to reopen campuses at Dripping Springs ISD
Nichole Street in Dripping Springs says her daughter missed a class Monday morning due to the Zoom outage.
She also experienced Canvas’ slowdown.
“I’m checking emails also start trying to start my day, then I’ve got another room kid in another room yelling for me, “Mama I can’t get my meeting–my call. It’s just, it’s constant running around. It’s almost 11 [a.m.] and I have read probably two emails of my own, for work,” Street explains.
The technical issues have Street pushing even harder to reopen campuses.
She joined other parents in a rally calling for board members to reopen in-person learning on September 14th.
The board is expected to make that decision Monday night.
“It’s just so ironic that today is the day of the board meeting and that we are wanting the schools to reopen,” Street says.
Street says she has family members who have contracted COVID-19 but believes children are not a high risk.
“For children, it’s maybe a fever. It’s very minute,” she says.
The CDC says hospitalization rates of children are significantly lower than those of adults with COVID-19.
They say that could mean children have less severe illnesses from the virus compared to adults.
But the agency also says the true infection in kids is not known yet because of a lack of widespread testing and, so far, we’ve prioritized testing for adults and others with severe illness.
Street believes reopening safely is achievable.
“Just open the doors. Give everything you put into place a chance. Give the kids a chance,” she says.