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Over the weekend the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the second-largest school district in the nation, was hit by a ransomware attack that has caused a “significant disruption.”

Classes resumed on Tuesday following the Labor Day holiday, but a number of essential services – such as faculty email, Google Drive access and computer applications such as the Schoology management system – remain unavailable.

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In the sprint to remake education during the pandemic, Los Angeles Unified School District armed half a million students with internet and devices to stay connected, but experts and parents said that its efforts to teach online sometimes fell short and left students behind.

Parents complained of edtech apps that were hard to hear in some cases or ones that were so cumbersome their children avoided them altogether. Some were age inappropriate, being used for elementary age students who had a hard time navigating them.

dot.LA spoke with a half a dozen parents and teachers about the district's effort to build thousands of virtual classrooms across the sprawling district.

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Image by Ian Hurley

In the early days of the pandemic, there was a mad dash to get technology and broadband internet service into students' homes. About 1 in 3 Los Angeles Unified School District families didn't have a desktop or laptop computer or high-speed internet, according to an April 2020 study by USC Annenberg.

To improve tech access and to make other COVID-related purchases, the Board of Education granted authority to then-Superintendent Austin Beutner to spend "any dollar amount necessary" to respond to the crisis. In 13 months, the district spent $390.5 million.

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