The video call service Zoom reported partial outages on Monday morning, causing problems on the first day of classes for many schools in the United States as the tech company rushed to resolve the issue.
“We have identified the issue causing users to be unable to start and join Zoom Meetings and Webinars and are working on a fix for this issue,” the company said in a statement. “We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience.”
Just before 8 a.m. in California, the company said that it was “deploying a fix across our cloud,” and trying to restore service for users.
As the coronavirus pandemic has kept students out of classrooms and office workers out of offices, Zoom has become a critical lifeline for many schools, companies and local governments. Many courthouses rely on Zoom to conduct hearings, city councils govern through virtual meetings, and the police face reporters in video news conferences.
“Virtual courtroom proceedings are being affected by a widespread Zoom outage in the U.S. and beyond that is preventing courts being able to start and join meetings,” Michigan’s Supreme Court said on Monday.
Zoom said it began receiving reports of users being unable to start meetings at about 5:50 a.m. local time in California. The website DownDetector, which tracks outages at social media companies and tech companies, showed significant outages in major cities across the country, including New York, Washington, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis and San Francisco. The site reported more than 15,000 outages by about 7 a.m. Pacific time.
By the third week of a typical August, nearly two-thirds of the 50 million public schoolchildren in the United States have returned to their classrooms. This year, many of the country’s largest districts have delayed the start of school or have chosen to begin the year with remote learning as the coronavirus continues to spread.
Zoom has proved invaluable for many schools, letting classes continue without students and teachers packed into classrooms. During the outage on Monday, schools in Georgia, Texas and Pennsylvania reported problems. The Atlanta school district, which serves about 50,000 students, was among those affected by the outage. “We are working to resolve the issue and will provide an update when restored,” the district said on Twitter on Monday morning. “Parents and students will hear from their local school regarding next steps and alternative ways for virtual learning.”
Students and professors at Penn State University reported a “widespread outage” of Zoom service on its campus on Monday morning, and urged students to download Zoom’s desktop client as a possible workaround.
Hundreds of millions of people now use Zoom, up from about 10 million in 2019. Like other tech companies that have experienced sudden popularity, Zoom has scrambled to scale up its capabilities and security. In April, Zoom formed a council of chief information security officers from other companies to share ideas for improving quality and minimizing disruptions.