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Hackers, mistakes prevent mass return to France online school

Paris (AP) – French children, parents and teachers are struggling with internet problems across the country, making a nationwide sharp switch to online education networks, the government has said.

On Wednesday, the Paris prosecutor’s office launched an investigation into possible hacking of key systems, and the government’s cyber security agency is also investigating. Education Minister Jean an-Michel Blanker announced cyber-attacks on the state-run distance learning network, blamed hacked private networks and other disruptions to servers.

But frustrated parents accuse the government of poor planning.

After more than seven months of one-on-one tutoring, 12 million students in France had trouble switching to online education on Tuesday. Some were resolved by Wednesday, but the Ministry of Education announced the second day of cyberattacks on the state distance learning network, accepting “irregular” and slow connections in many districts.

The reason was clear for Esther Baumad, the leader of Open Digital Education, a leading online teaching platform. “Too many people were connected at the same time,” he told France-Info.

Those who shared tips on WhatsApp class chats և opened up on social networks. Teachers interfered with the smaller classes than usual because some children could not access their network or had to drop out altogether.

“I know this is not easy,” President Emanuel Macron said Tuesday as he attended an online history and geography class for 14-year-olds in the south of France. He acknowledged some “difficulties, some incidents.”

Sitting on his laptop in the Presidential Palace, Macron watched World War II lessons, thanking students, teachers, and families for adapting to the rapidly evolving situation.

His government sent all children full-time to school in September to reduce education gaps caused by a virus block last spring and return them to work for their parents. As a result, most French schools did not make major changes to adapt to distance learning, as did many in the United States, where a new study released by the Biden administration on Wednesday found that 34% of students in the country study full-time.

After months of insisting that French schools be closed again, the French government was forced to back down last week amid a new wave of viruses that fueled a more contagious version first discovered in Britain. Macron ordered schools, not businesses, to close nationwide, and imposed new travel restrictions for four weeks.

French hospitals are already struggling with the number of new viral patients. The country reported 97,273 deaths due to the most viruses in the world.

France, meanwhile, is trying to speed up vaccinations after a slow start. Seven military hospitals have begun vaccinating civilians this week, and the main vaccination center has opened at the National Sports Stadium north of Paris.

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