The vast majority of U.S. schools are relying on technology platforms more than ever before.

That means schools have been particularly affected when big tech providers like Zoom and Google have experienced temporary outages. Zoom was down on the first day of school for thousands of students across the country last fall, and the possibility of another outage for a key tech-based service always looms on the horizon.

For the Joliet school district in Illinois, this school year started off on a rough note with the Zoom disruption, followed by a Google outage, as well as some local Comcast internet service problems, all of which disrupted students’ learning. “At that point in time, we didn’t have a plan B,” said John Armstrong, the district’s director of technology. “We hadn’t gotten that far.”

A few months later, outages are less disruptive, with more money invested in more robust technology options that can serve as backups in case of an outage. “Now it certainly has an impact, but it’s more on the annoyance level than shutting us down,” he said.