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Zoom outage disrupts online classes in the US

August 25, 2020

A Zoom glitch left many US students and teachers unable to attend classes remotely for several hours on the first day of school. In Mexico, the government turned to television to broadcast classes across the country.

USA Covid-19 | Homeschooling
Image: picture-alliance/ZUMAPRESS.com/H. Rick Bamman

Video conference company Zoom experienced a partial outage on Monday, disrupting schools across the United States which have moved to online classes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Zoom services were down on Monday morning with users unable to load the website, while others could neither host nor join scheduled meetings. The outage lasted for about two-and-a-half hours on what was the first day of school.

"We have resolved the issue causing some users to be unable to start and join Zoom Meetings and Webinars or manage aspects of their account on the Zoom website," the company said on its website.

CEO Eric Yuan also issued an apology on Twitter and assured users that the company would try to prevent such glitches in the future.

Read moreUN warns of 'generational catastrophe' over coronavirus school closures

"Today @zoom_us had a service disruption that affected many of our customers," he said. "We know the responsibility we have to keep your meetings, classrooms & important events running. I'm personally very sorry & we will all do our best to prevent this from happening in the future."

Zoom's shares fell less than 3% during regular trading.

The California-based company has experienced a surge in users since the pandemic forced millions across the world to stay home. The video conferencing tool is used for work meetings, school, social events and to otherwise stay connected during the lockdown.

Monday's outage gave students and educators in the US a glimpse of the challenges of remote learning which has become part of the new normal.

Televised classes in Mexico

Schools remain closed in many countries across the world to reduce the chance of infection, and several states are seeking alternatives to in-person classes.

The Mexican government has teamed up with four private television stations to broadcast classes to students in a nationwide experiment in remote learning.

Read moreCoronavirus: Children return to schools in Germany, in the heat, wearing a mask

About 30 million public school students will take lessons on their TV sets until the situation in the country improves.

"Despite the pandemic, the pain, the suffering it has caused, which unfortunately it continues to cause, we are... standing," President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday as he declared the new school year open.

Mexiko Covid-19 | Homeschooling - Santi, 6, follows a televised kindergarten lesson in his home as students return to classes but not schools in Mexico City, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020. A system cobbling together online classes, instruction broadcast on cable television channels and radio programming in indigenous languages for the most remote, will attempt to keep students from missing out.
About 30 million public school students in Mexico will take lesson on their TV setsImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/R. Blackwell

Education Secretary Esteban Moctezuma said officials have decided to rely on television because it has far greater penetration than the internet.

Read moreLearning pods and cardboard cubicles: US schools adapt to the pandemic

He also noted how some countries have reopened schools and witnessed outbreaks while others have canceled the school year altogether. "Maybe other countries don't have the commitment of Mexican teachers," he said.

"Maybe other countries don't have a heart like our mothers and fathers. Maybe our boys, girls, and young people want to learn more than anyone in the world."

The Mexican government's ambitious plan coincides with an exodus from private schools.

About 2 million students at all levels are expected to quit private schools because of the coronavirus crisis, according to Reuters news agency. Many parents are unwilling to bear the costs of private schools due to the lack of both in-person teaching and access to facilities.

adi/dj (AP, AFP, Reuters)