The Week Without Internet

The unforeseen virtual attack on the internet gives community perspective

Screens across the district remained blank for the past two weeks as a computer virus invaded the system, resulting in collection of 3000 computers. Though not all computers were infected, precautionary reimaging to each of the 3000 laptops must occur before redistribution, halting classes from digital resources they have grown accustomed to.
The Information Technology department at ELHS led by Ben McCarthy has worked tirelessly and diligently to reimage computers in order to get the now technology-dependent classes up and running.
Students and teachers last Monday returned to pen and paper as laptops were shelved to avoid the potential spread of the computer virus. At first, many thought the WiFi was down and that everything would be back to normal within a day or two. Teachers joked to students that school without the internet used to be how school ran. Then, as the WiFi remained down, the administrators informed classes to return school-issued laptops for reimaging.
Reimaging is the wiping of a computer’s hard drive and installing a new operating system, in ELHS’s case, to remove “infected” computers and bring “clean” ones into the new, virus-free system. Each computer takes 20 minutes to reimage and 20 can be reimaged at a time according to administration.
Some computers are prioritized over others. For example, the business office computers will be reimaged first so that payroll for the staff will happen on time, then the senior class and freshman class. Seniors need their laptops to complete largely digital college applications, and freshmen need laptops to complete online PSATs.
However, for all classes alike, communication has been notably disrupted. Due to the pandemic, teachers converted all materials and instruction to digital resources as a means of communicating with students. Google Classroom, Infinite Campus, and email became the largest modes of communication and have stuck to this day. On Google Classroom, teachers post messages to the “stream” notifying students in the class. Assignments, due dates, and a place to submit completed homework are also posted, further eliminating the need for agendas and paper altogether. Since the virus attacked the ELHS domain, Google Classroom does not work for everyone, and communication has been limited to orally and written down which enforces more responsibility on the students.
“I usually do a google form (for homework), but I’m just not doing it. I’m not going to make my students responsible for it after. There’s things in our control, things out of our control, and I’m not gonna punish my students for the network being down. I don’t think that that’s fair,” science teacher Victoria Thomson said.
For teachers whose classes rely on computers, communication is the least of their concerns. Classes such as AP Computer Science depend on devices in order to learn, so classes have looked more like study halls, putting students at a disadvantage in maintaining the rigorous AP schedule.
“We have not been able to do anything,” AP Computer Science teacher Cecilia Prytko said. “With a lot of classes, the curriculum is online and right now is supposed to be checkpoint time, and nobody has access to the tools to even study for the quizzes.”
This incident is not the first time ELHS lost the efficiency of technology at its fingertips. In 2010, before iCloud usage to back up files, teachers who saved work on the district Universal drive lost everything. Like now, teachers who have made the switch to fully digital are the most impacted.
“If we had been given a warning that this was going to happen, it actually could’ve been an interesting experiment. There are ways in which I’m kind of nostalgic for a world before the internet and the constant notifications for both students and teachers, and the value of just writing it down in your planner,” English teacher Ryan Ainscough said. He acknowledges, though, that the timing is “less than ideal,” and feels the stress and disconnect of the school’s current predicament.
Going without the internet for a week proves to give ELHS a space to reflect. Clean computers will return shortly, but until then, teachers ask students to be patient and flexible. Though this technology-less period is nothing short of inconvenient, remaining adaptable makes this time go all the smoother.