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'It's almost like the Hunger Games': Extended Day Program registration malfunction frustrates parents

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Waterloo Region District School Board (WRSB) and the Waterloo Catholic District School Board opened up registration for extended day care for school aged children on Monday but overwhelming demand caused the system, called OneList, to malfunction.

For many parents, anticipation quickly turned to frustration.

“I was there from 8:30 a.m. all the way to about 3:00 p.m. until I finally gave up because I was just kept refreshing and retrying and retrying … It was basically my full time job yesterday trying to register my kid,” said Krista Soble, a frustrated parent. “It’s almost like the Hunger Games.”

WRDSB and WCDSB sent messaging to parents on Monday afternoon that they were shutting down the registration process.

They said parents will get a notification when registration is back open but on Tuesdsay evening, it was still not working.

“OneList will advise you in advance once registration reopens via email. For families who started the registration process and experienced technical difficulties they have captured your completed registration steps and you will receive notification to log back in and complete the process in priority order in accordance with the Waterloo Region District School Board Wait List Policy.”

According to OneHSN, the company who operates OneList, the issue stems from a Canada-wide policy change when it comes to before and after school care.

They said previously students already enrolled in a program would automatically have a spot next year. This year, because of the Canada-wide Early Learning Program, which necessitates licensing of the school board programs, every student must be re-registered.

”It's essentially a competition process now that has to occur in the late part of June, early part of July for those September spaces,” said Darryl Buck, president and CEO of OneHSN.

He said the OneList software required significant structural change, and it was thoroughly tested, but ultimately did not hold up to the demand.

“We had no means of testing the demand that hit the system all at once,” said Buck.

Buck said they are working hard to get the system back up and running.

“We've committed within the week to having that fix implemented and tested and then notifying the families when it’s available to go back in for the lottery or the registration process,” said Buck.

For parents like Soble, the website malfunction is frustrating, but it is the lack in communication from the school board that she said is most upsetting.

“They didn't let us know that there was a technical issue until after 5:00 p.m. so that's a whole working day of trying to get this system to work,” said Soble.

According to Soble and others who reached out to CTV, this is not an isolated incident.

“This seems to be a common issue with their website, things just don't seem to work and they just don't communicate well with what's happening with the website because this isn't the first time we've had issues with registration and they just don't seem to address the problems,” said Soble.

We reached out to both local school boards for comment and neither were available for an interview.

In a statement sent on Tuesday the WRDSB said:

“We recognize the inconvenience, confusion and worry that these technical issues have caused, and we appreciate the understanding and patience of families. We have conveyed the importance of resuming service as quickly as possible to OneList.”

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