Wi-Fi outage strikes school last Tuesday

Blake Bennett, Staff Writer

Last Tuesday, the school’s Wi-Fi shut down after the network security service mischaracterized regular website traffic as malware and blocked all internet traffic.

The school uses Wi-Fi from the Cisco Meraki IT company which is generally stable, Director of Technology Adam Kenner said. However, the school will soon migrate from Academic and HM Academic to a new network, HM Secure. Students and teachers will log into HM Secure with their Google accounts while guests will use Guest Wifi, which will require a generic password, Kenner said.

Kenner received numerous reports of internet outages starting at 9 a.m. on Tuesday and acted immediately to locate the source of the problem, he said. When the Technology Department receives complaints, they address them based on how much they affect the efficiency of learning at school. “The response was instant and all of our resources were diverted to first identifying where in our systems the problem seemed to be occurring,” Kenner said.

Once the problem was identified, Kenner contacted outside resources to help remediate the trouble, he said. “By noon, we had outside technicians on-site troubleshooting the internet circuit that carries all our wireless traffic.” By 5 p.m., the school restored all internet services using a temporary workaround for the security issue that persisted outside the school’s network. 

Wi-Fi outages are a rare occurrence at school, Dean of Faculty Dr. Andrew Fippinger said. “It’s a huge network, so the fact that it goes down so infrequently is quite impressive.”

The Tuesday malfunction kept students and faculty offline for most of the day. “In today’s world, where classes are heavily reliant on Wi-Fi, it really prevents learning when the Wi-Fi doesn’t work,” Matthew Pruzan (10) said. “I commend the tech office for their speed in fixing the problem.”

It was also a major issue for students who rely on their time at school to complete a large portion of their homework. “I prefer to complete most of my work at school so it was very disruptive and caused issues for me while doing my work.” Lukas Frangenberg (10) said.

Middle Division Spanish teacher Mary Elizabeth Rosa could not access the materials that she had on Google Drive during the outage, but still engaged her students and met her learning objectives, she said. “Since I am still old school in some ways, I was able to switch plans for my classes, not impacting my teaching or the learning of my students.”