Northampton Public Schools struggle with internet connection Tuesday 

  • Bridge Street School parents wait outside the Northampton elementary for the dismissal of students shortly after noon on Friday, March 13, 2020, at the end of a previously scheduled half day.  GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 10/20/2020 1:43:37 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Gina Hall’s son, who’s in the sixth grade at JFK Middle School, was supposed to go into school on Tuesday to get accommodations for taking a test, which his individualized education plan (IEP) allows.

“We got a call just as my son and husband were leaving to go into school — the internet was out there, don’t bother to come in,” Hall said.

The problem wasn’t just at JFK. Internet connection went out in all six buildings across the district on Tuesday morning, said Antonio Pagán, the district’s chief information officer.

His team has identified the network issue but hasn’t been able to solve it yet, he said midday Tuesday. “Any professional networker will say sometimes [networks problems] are easy to fix, and sometimes they will take longer than expected. Hopefully, we will be able to get it done by 2 o’clock, as expected.”

There is a temporary solution implemented, but it doesn’t offer enough bandwidth for everyone to connect, so people were still experiencing issues Tuesday around noon, Pagán said.

Most students are connected at home, working with teachers remotely, and are not affected, said Superintendent John Provost. The district is allowing prioritized students, such as those with IEPs, to come to school for services.

About 260 students are on campus during the remote learning period, and “those are the ones that are experiencing the connectivity issues,” Provost said. The district has been testing students to assess where they are at in their learning, and any tests scheduled for Tuesday were canceled, Provost said.  

The middle school also had temporary connection issues after a recent windstorm, and staff reported issues in the building in a recent district survey. Internet connectivity issues and other changes pose difficulties, Hall said.  

“As parents and caregivers, we want to be really flexible and understanding of changes because we’re in a very precarious time,” she said. But “for students with disabilities who struggle with being flexible with transitions, it’s really unsettling for all these changes to be taking place constantly. It’s hard to get into a routine when everything is changing. This creates a barrier for them in terms of accessing the curriculum.” 

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com.




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