Ed-Tech Policy

Many School Computers Still Aren’t Ready for Y2K

By Andrew Trotter — November 03, 1999 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The dawn of the new year may catch many schools unprepared for the Y2K computer bug, a U.S. Department of Education survey suggests.


The government’s Y2K logo.

“I’d be very surprised if we didn’t see 1,000 to 1,500 schools shut down,’' Marshall S. Smith, the department’s acting deputy secretary, said at a press conference held here last week to release the survey’s results. The nation has about 91,000 schools.

Of the nearly 1,000 school districts that completed the survey in September, 36 percent said their districts had not yet prepared all their “mission critical” computer systems for problems they could encounter as the calendar rolls over to 2000. Individual respondents decided which systems were mission-critical, but they typically include business operations, fire protection, security, and transportation.

Four percent of districts said that at least some mission-critical systems would not be ready by Jan. 1.

The results show some improvement over last June, when, in a similar survey by the Education Department, 72 percent out of 3,500 districts said they had mission-critical systems that were not Y2K- compliant. At that time, however, only 2 percent said those systems would not be ready by Jan. 1. (“Survey: Districts Still Not Prepared for Year 2000 Glitch,” Sept. 9, 1999.)

The latest survey also shows that many districts haven’t debugged many other computer functions that, although not deemed mission-critical, are important to school operations.

For example, 14 percent of districts said they did not expect all their infrastructure componentswhich include heating and telecommunicationsto be ready by the first of the year.

Trust, But Verify

In addition, only 56 percent of survey respondents said they had completed contingency plans to cope with potential Y2K disruptions, and only 83 percent said they would have contingency plans in place by Jan. 1.

Mr. Smith recommended that districts spend the next 65 days completing such plans and checking key systems that affect student safety and essential business operations. He also encouraged parents and students to ask their districts to provide independent confirmation of the adequacy of their Y2K fixes.

The Y2K bug derives from the once-common programming practice of representing each year by just the final two digits. Errors could result when the year rolls over to “00.”

A version of this article appeared in the November 03, 1999 edition of Education Week as Many School Computers Still Aren’t Ready for Y2K

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Ed-Tech Policy Opinion Why Are We Turning Our Backs on Remote Learning?
Neither the detractors nor defenders of remote learning are fully in the right, argues one superintendent.
Theresa Rouse
5 min read
Illustration of girl working on computer at home.
Ed-Tech Policy Letter to the Editor Using E-Rate to Address the Homework Gap
The FCC's E-rate program can provide relief to many families, says this letter author from the Internet Society.
1 min read
Ed-Tech Policy Q&A Acting FCC Chair: The 'Homework Gap' Is an 'Especially Cruel' Reality During the Pandemic
Under the new leadership of Jessica Rosenworcel, the FCC is exploring broadening the E-Rate to cover home-connectivity needs.
5 min read
Internet connectivity doesn't reach all the houses
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and iStock/Getty
Ed-Tech Policy Millions of Students Got Free Home Internet for Remote Learning. How Long Will It Last?
Time and money are running out on temporary agreements between districts and ISPs. Broadband advocates want a federal solution.
10 min read
Cupped hands hold a precious wi-fi symbol
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Digital Vision Vectors/Getty