On the first day of virtual school for Houston ISD, hundreds of thousands of students and their families were unable to access the district’s website for most of the morning Tuesday.

Those trying to access the HISD @ H.O.M.E. program at houstonisd.org were greeted with an error message that said, in part, “We can’t connect to the server for this app or website at this time. There might be too much traffic.”

The website started working again late Tuesday morning and, even when it wasn’t functioning properly, at least some area students were still receiving instruction from their teachers through the Microsoft Teams program. Also, HISD interim superintendent Grenita Lathan said during a Tuesday morning news conference that families were being rerouted from the faulty website.

Students can access the district’s online hub at houston.itslearning.com.

The largest school district in Texas, which includes roughly 209,000 students as well as more than 20 campuses in the Heights, Garden Oaks and Oak Forest areas, is conducting classes virtually for at least the first six weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic. HISD plans to open for in-person learning Oct. 19.

For the 12,000 or so HISD students who do not have computers or internet access from home, according to Lathan, HISD has opened 36 digital learning centers where elementary and middle school students can gather and learn in an online setting from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Hogg Middle School and Smith Elementary are serving as digital learning centers for area schools.

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