Systems that might have embedded chips:
Less than 100
days to go 'til the millenium . . . Is your school Y2K ready?
It's that computer glitch that could cause thousands of systems to crash when computer chips register the year 2000. Many chips were programmed with a two-digit year to save space and money. But on January 1, 2000, four digits are needed to identify the new century.
Everyone's been talking non-stop about what it means for airports, the government and businesses . . . but what about schools?
exam by flashlight?
In many schools, computers and chips control everything from bus schedules to attendance records to the elevators. So what will happen that first week in January when you head back to class after winter vacation?
Will you need a flashlight for French class when the lights won't come on?
Will you be surfing school hallways on cafeteria trays because the Y2K bug has set off the sprinkler system?
What about that
not-so-hot Home Economics grade from last quarter? Will it disappear
forever when the school's computerized record systems crash?
and schools officials say no. In a recent survey by the U.S. Department
of Education, 98 percent of the schools said all of their "mission
critical," or most important, systems would be Y2K-ready by January.
However, a government
investigation shows that many schools are cutting it close to the
deadline, and their systems won't be Y2K proof until nearly the end
of the year. According to Senator Robert Bennett of Utah, that's reason
"The late completion
dates leave very little time for testing to make sure everything works,"
he said at a recent Senate Hearing on Y2K. Bennett is one of several
Senators urging schools to put Y2K compliance at the top of their to-do
From the biggest schools...
The report also
says that larger, urban school districts are the least prepared for
the year 2000. The bigger districts are often more dependent on computer
networks to link large numbers of schools together. That means there
are more Y2K problems to fix.
The Los Angeles,
California school district is the second largest in the country. Computer
experts have been working on Y2K problems there since 1997. Terryl Hedrich,
director of Information Technology for LA, says Y2K proofing the systems
was a huge job. "We spent almost 44.5 million dollars. We had to
go back and look at every single line of code in our systems. That's
24 million lines of code in 125 applications."
Still, Hedrich thinks the LA schools will make it through the millenium without much trouble.
On the other side
of the country, in Peaks Island, Maine, Y2K was not a major concern.
The island's school has only 61 students and about 15 computers.
"I don't know
if they've even talked about it yet," one employee said.
Some schools districts,
like Albuquerque, New Mexico, have decided to extend winter break for
a few days, just in case there are any unanticipated Y2K problems. Instead
of heading back to classes on January 3rd, students there will go back
on the 10th.
Hassle or horror story?
The basic fact is, no one knows exactly what will happen on New Years Day. But most experts say there's no reason for panic.
beings are 100% Y2K compliant. That means teachers will show up to work,"
says Dr. David Weidner, Director of Information Technologies for the
American Association of School Administrators.
So it's best to do the homework and head to school that first week in January. It looks like Y2K is more likely to create hassles than horror stories.
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