Y2K Bug Extends Schools' Vacations

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-- Linkmeister (link@librarian.edu), December 24, 1999


Friday December 24 1:13 PM ET

Y2K Bug Extends Schools' Vacations


Grammar schools, high schools and universities alike usually end their winter breaks on the first Monday of the new year. But this year, worry over potential effects of the Y2K bug led some schools to extend their vacations for a few days past Monday, Jan. 3 - just in case.

Children in Washington started school early this year, on Aug. 30, to make up for days they'll lose because the district delayed the start of school to Jan. 5. Public schools in Dayton, Ohio, are extending winter vacation a full week, to Jan. 10.

``We just want to make sure everything is operational,'' said Carole Johnson, spokeswoman for the Dayton district, which has 24,000 students.

A survey by the U.S. Department of Education released in October found that more than a third of schools at all levels were unprepared for any problems that might arise if computers misread 2000 as 1900. Most were expected to be ready for the date change when it comes, however.

Among the school systems that consider themselves ready is the nation's second-largest, the Los Angeles Unified School District, with more than 700,000 students. It will reopen Jan. 3 - a target set by school officials in March 1998.

Facing that deadline with no room for mistakes, computer specialists had equipment checked and upgraded by June. Last month they held an early New Year's and thank-you picnic to celebrate.

``Once you're told `We're going to be ready or else,' you make sure you are,'' said the district's Y2K director, Terryl Hedrich.

Minneapolis public schools will also reopen on Jan. 3, but will be ready for any problems. First thing New Year's Day, a team of technicians, faculty and staff will check the district's computerized equipment, from heating and elevators to fax machines.

If a problem is found, they'll declare Jan. 3 a snow day and take it from there, said Sheldon Ramnarine, head of computer operations for the 48,000-student district. That's remote, however, he said. ``We spent a little more than a year and a half looking at all the issues.''

Worry over the Y2K bug bit harder at officials running the 36 campuses of Minnesota's state colleges and universities. They won't let their 144,000 students back in class until Jan. 12.

Northwestern University, with campuses in Chicago and nearby Evanston, pushed its winter quarter back two days, to Jan. 5 ``to make sure our systems were all up and operating OK,'' said school spokesman Alan Cubbage. Plus, he said, ``We really didn't want to force students to have to fly on Jan. 1 or Jan. 2, figuring if there was a problem, that would exacerbate it.''


-- Linkmeister (link@librarian.edu), December 24, 1999.

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