Long Lines at LA Schools as 'Daily Pass' Servers Crash, Leaving Thousands Struggling to Check-In

Sarah Favot

Favot is an award-winning journalist and adjunct instructor at USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. She previously was an investigative and data reporter at national education news site The 74 and local news site LA School Report. She's also worked at the Los Angeles Daily News. She was a Livingston Award finalist in 2011 and holds a Master's degree in journalism from Boston University and BA from the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada.

Long Lines at LA Schools as 'Daily Pass' Servers Crash, Leaving Thousands Struggling to Check-In
Photo by Sarah Favot/ dot.LA

Los Angeles Unified School District parents and students spent the first day of school refreshing their browsers as the server for the Daily Pass app developed by Microsoft crashed as hundreds of thousands of users tried to log on.

The failure caused long lines that wrapped around the block at some schools as excited and anxious students returned, most for the first time since March 2020.

At Venice High School some students waited two hours to get in, frustrating some even though waits were anticipated as the nation's second-largest school district attempted to orchestrate one of the most complicated public health screenings in its history.

Long lines formed at John Marshall High School in Los Feliz Monday morning as the server for the district's Daily Pass app crashed.Photo by Sarah Favot/ dot.LA

The district touts the strictest protocols in the country, including weekly testing for teachers and its half million students regardless of their vaccination status.

Many parents said they expected delays and glitches with the system. Some blamed Microsoft for the technical challenges.

The Daily Pass was supposed to help mitigate the very scenario that occured on Monday morning. The software generates a QR code for students that screeners can scan to determine whether someone has a negative baseline COVID-19 test and is symptom-free.

Despite all the technology, screeners were checking a printed list at school entrances. If the Daily Pass wasn't working, students were asked verbal health screening questions at the schoolhouse gate.

District officials did not respond to a request for comment.

At John Marshall High School in Los Feliz, a tent with four health professionals wearing scrubs and gowns were prepared to administer rapid antigen tests for students who did not take a baseline test. The tent was not busy. One teacher encouraged students to show their vaccination cards if the Daily Pass was not loading.

The district operated its own testing sites, but students were also allowed to upload results from outside facilities.

Parent advocacy organization Speak Up spokesperson Jenny Hontz said she did not hear of any student being turned away.

In the spring students were forced to stay home if their COVID test failed to load in the system. At least one Venice High student left, appearing to feel anxious, Hontz said a parent reported.

One student said poor internet service in Marshall High School's neighborhood didn't help Daily Pass's log in process. But students were happy to be back -- despite the long line.

Parents and students trying to use LAUSD's Daily Pass encountered error messages as school started, August 16, 2021.

"I was scared we wouldn't have a year, so we're lucky to even have a year, " said Liam Cole, a senior at Marshall High School. Although he's not sure whether he'll get to go to his senior prom because of the district's safety rules.

Parents who said they didn't have problems logging on the system did so after midnight or early in the morning. The district requires that parents log in the same day as the child will be attending school, so it's not possible to do it the night before. Parents who were familiar with the system also said they took a screenshot of the QR code or printed it out.

Despite the long lines, many parents were grateful for the stringent protocols the district made.

Todd Kruger, whose son was entering kindergarten at Franklin Avenue Elementary School didn't mind the weekly testing requirement or the mask mandate because his son's been wearing a mask for likely as far back as his memory can go.

"The stricter the better. As soon as he can be vaccinated he'll have a needle in his arm but until then we'll be the safest we can," Kruger said.

The error message generated urged students not to leave campus.

"You will be let in shortly," it said.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.