Greenwich Schools Defend Wifi at Greenwich High School as “Reliable for Educational Purposes”

snapchatAccording to a statement released by Kim Eves from the Board of Education Thursday night, “The internet access at Greenwich High School (GHS) is reliable for educational purposes.”

The statement released Thursday night at 9:00pm said that Greenwich Public Schools Chief Information Officer Phil Dunn met with student ambassadors and the GHS Student Government president Spencer Faragasso on Tuesday.

According to the statement, Mr. Dunn said, “the students, including their Student Council President, agree that the District’s Digital Learning Environment (DLE) initiative is transforming learning and is going well. They specifically said that it was creating standardization in the delivery of instruction, as well as increasing the efficiency with which they work.”

At the December 2015 Board of Education meeting, Faragasso drew some gasps when he gave an update on the state of Wi-Fi inside Greenwich High School. He said that he had asked fellow students to identify where inside the high school the Wi-Fi is either ‘very weak’ or ‘non-existent.’

spencer faragasso

 Phil Dunn, the head of IT for Greenwich Schools said the Chrome books are arriving today. Credit: Leslie Yager

At the 2015 convocation in the student center, Phil Dunn, the head of IT for Greenwich Schools, said the Chrome books are arriving. Credit: Leslie Yager

“Students commented that the Wi-Fi is very slow and nearly impossible to use in almost all areas of the student center, the science wing, and all of the houses — so, basically, the entire school,” Faragasso said in December to a few gasps from the audience. “There are a lot of improvements that need to be made.”

In the Jan. 7 statement Mr. Dunn was quoted saying, “the network, while imperfect, works reliably for educational uses.”

“I shared with the student group that the network was intentionally designed to segment traffic for 1) faculty, 2) instruction (instructional devices, including the Chromebooks connect to this) and 3) guests,” Dunn said in the statement. “Upon hearing this, the students acknowledged that, generally the only time they encounter an issue is when they are between classes, transitioning through the hallways and checking social media such as Facebook on their personal phones. The students’ experiences align with our prioritization of the instructional segment of the network above the “guest” uses.”

According to Eves’ statement, the GHS internet network surges to a maximum of 7,000 wireless devices connected to it at any moment, with the average hovering around 5,000 phones, Chromebooks, and other laptops. There are also an additional 2,000 wired computers connecting to the network.

According to the Jan 7 statement, “A typical student in a typical school day has their internet connection pass through more than 30 wireless access points as they walk through the school.”

As in all aspects of the organization, the Greenwich Public Schools strive for continuous improvement. This includes improvements in the infrastructure supporting our Digital Learning Environment (DLE). Since the start of DLE, we have made massive improvements to the District’s internet infrastructure.

At GHS alone, a study by seasoned Hewlitt Packard (HP) engineers was commissioned to design the network for massive numbers of devices, including all of the media-intensive uses that students access (e.g., streaming YouTube and Spotify with frequency). The GPS IT team made further refinements to the wireless access points in and around the Student Center during the recent holiday break.

This work is as much art as it is science, with refinements made on a case-by-case basis given the dimensions, construction materials, and human traffic patterns within each space. – Statement from Kim Eves, Greenwich Board of Education, Jan. 7, 2016

By way of follow up, Faragasso, GHS Headmaster Chris Winters and Mr. Dunn will work together, “to share meaningful communications to the students and community on DLE in the coming two months.”

See also: BOE Fodder: Fixing Spotty Wi-Fi inside GHS; Providing Greenwich Students with Wi-Fi at Home