Where in the World has the Wi-Fi Gone?

Where in the World has the Wi-Fi Gone?

Claire Kuwana, Sentry Staff Reporter

Recently, students were shocked to discover that, out of the blue, in the top left corner of their phone screens, the three bars signifying a connection to a wireless network had disappeared. Word of this new lack of Wi-Fi spread extremely quickly, as students continuously tried to regain access to the network. If a student is using a school-issued device, such as a MacBook, he can access the wireless network; however, if he is on any other device he cannot.

Instructional Technology Coordinator Keith Reeves said, “I have received some complaints from students, none from parents yet.” When asked if teachers had shown any indication as to how they feel about the situation, Reeves described them as “extraordinarily distressed, angry, unable to teach, [and]  very concerned about juniors and seniors specifically.”

Nonetheless, if one has a complaint concerning the state of the Wi-Fi, it is not Reeves one should be complaining to. Although Reeves can try to convey complaints to some of his colleagues, he and the rest of the administration have absolutely no real control over this situation. If they do not, then who does?

“The Director of the Service Support Center, his name is Terrence Proctor, he runs everything involving technology in the school district …. and the Assistant Superintendent for Department of Information Services, his name is Raj Adusumilli ….  [he] is the person who has the ability to fix this right now, it is his call,” said Reeves. If students would like to stand up for themselves and share their opinion on this situation, those are the people he should call.

Another question a number of students have is why they are no longer being allowed to access Arlington Public Schools’ (APS) wireless network.

“They [APS] would say that at the moment there is insufficient connectivity to ensure that testing takes place in an uninterrupted fashion,” said Reeves.

On the contrary, when asked what the value of authorizing a student to access Wi-Fi during school is, he said “Every individual learns differently … we cannot presuppose your learning modality … there may be students who benefit most significantly from having the ability to … access ancillary and relevant information … we cannot rationally or reasonably assume what those things might be. That is one of the reasons why national and international organizations work tirelessly to ensure that every kid has access to wifi.”

Although there are certain things that APS is required to block under the Child International Protection Act, Reeves said “I … do not believe there is any compelling reason to deny you access to anything else … It makes no sense at all … to deny students access to any information, ever … to say, ‘you shouldn’t know a thing’.”

For a limited amount of time in September, there was an announcement on the Yorktown High School homepage stating that a timeline regarding the time when Wi-Fi access would be granted to students again would be released soon; however, that announcement was later removed.  In addition, the Yorktown Instructional Technology Coordinator Twitter account (@YorktownITC) tweeted on September 22, “APS Dept of Information Services says is drafting a response to School Board inquiry re: the state of Wi-Fi. Will update when available.”

On October 16, APS posted a new statement on the bottom of their “Personalized Digital Learning FAQs” page. To summarize, this announcement states that the APS wireless network was disabled for students because the “demand for access to the network has exceeded capacity …. resulting in slow internet performance for all users. It also caused problems with online SOL testing. ” To combat this problem, “APS removed Wi-Fi access for the lowest priority devices,” which they seem to believe includes student’s mobile devices. APS is currently in the process of increasing their network bandwidth, which should be completed in December 2015. After this is finished, “network access for student-owned devices will be addressed.”

For the sake of the student body, we hope more information regarding this situation will be released soon. The question is, if this information is released online, will we even be able to access it?