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CMS Board Gets A Taste Of Distance Learning Hurdles

The CMS board finally got its Zoom meeting on Facebook -- with a staffer's camera aimed at a laptop.

As students and teachers across North Carolina grappled with distance learning this week, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board held its first all-electronic meeting Tuesday.

If you've been working from home and trying new technology, you can probably guess how that went.

Last week the school board met in a conference room without an audience, trying to avoid the crowds that put people at risk for coronavirus exposure.

Today the board shifted to an all-digital format, planning to convene by Zoom and stream the meeting on Facebook. At 2 p.m. ... nothing.

After about 15 minutes a “we’re having technical difficulties” message went up, and around 2:30, board Chair Elyse Dashew was on screen explaining that the board had tested the setup Monday.

"It worked yesterday," she said. "Today we’re getting an error, and so we have a bit of a work-around."

The work-around was an iPhone stream of a laptop carrying the Zoom meeting.

Tech troubles are a familiar frustration for almost everyone working from home and for teachers, students and parents trying to figure out how to do at least nine weeks of school without personal contact. As one Facebook comment said, “If this doesn’t work, why would doing all of fourth quarter?”

Once the meeting got going, the board approved two technical matters related to leave pay and in-person hearnings.

There was nothing about graduation ceremonies, grades or the other big questions still afloat. In a text before the meeting, Dashew said that’s because CMS is still sorting through state directives approved Friday. More details about distance learning should come in the next few days, she says.

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