School’s wi-fi and web page blocker needs improvement

Callie Kesilewski, Photography Editor

Since the beginning of last school year, the speed of the school wi-fi has substantially slowed down. The apparent cause is all of the Chromebook, which takes up some of  the bandwidth. However, all other devices are extremely slow or simply do not work. Much of the southern part of the school and the commons are several feet underground. Cellular data cannot penetrate through walls well, so phones and other devices are essentially rendered useless in these dead zones. Other dead zones exist in the interior math rooms, many world language rooms and anywhere along the 1400 or 1300 hallways. If you want to call or email someone using your phone, in many places, the easiest way to do it involves going outdoors. In winter, that is not exactly very feasible. 

Cell phones have become a critical communication tool during events such as power outages or other emergencies. If power is cut to the school’s phone and internet network, communication to areas outside of the building becomes impaired. Many staff members have radios as backup, but not all do, so many are left dependent on school or cell phones. Seconds count in any emergency. It might be dangerous for a staff member or student to leave a classroom simply for phone service. It’s faster for a staff member to call emergency services or administration in this case, since it takes time for someone to get to the area of the school where the problem is located. Having better wi-fi would eliminate this safety hazard. While increasing wi-fi bandwidth does cost more, it is worth it for safety.

Student access to personal email is also important. Students have many responsibilities outside of our school. Have an appointment during release? Need to take an extra shift at work right after school? Much of this information generally comes through email or text. If you can’t get the information because of the cellular dead zones, making that appointment or work shift becomes strained. At high school age, building strong relationships with adults and other community members/groups is critical to future success. Being organized and on top of schedules is a key part of that. Some students also run their own businesses, like shoveling snow or mowing lawns. They receive emails throughout the day that in many cases are time sensitive. Can’t reach a customer due to our wi-fi? A student might have just lost a job.

The school’s new web blocker also poses challenges for internet browsing. Infinite Campus (at the time this article was written) was blocked. Wikipedia Creative Commons images are invisible. Weebly sites, which are used in classes like IDEA, are blocked. The new filter blocks many websites and resources that students use on a daily basis. 

Overall, the school district needs to investigate our wi-fi problem further. It is important for both students and staff to have reliable cellular internet access in the event of safety issues or simply other responsibilities outside of school.