MANCHESTER — City middle and high school students frustrated by a Wi-Fi ban can access the district’s network again after the school board voted Monday night to end a one-month trial shutdown.
School officials implemented the restrictions to address complaints, concerns and frustration about the network, including incidents involving students accessing pornography.
According to school officials, one reason for the one-month shutdown was a lack of wireless internet capacity at Manchester schools. When students connect to the network with their cellphones, it slows down and hinders official school use, administrators said.
Since the trial period began, students have attended school board meetings regularly to voice their displeasure with the restrictions, saying they interfere with school work.
On Monday, Information Technology Director Stephen Cross shared results of a survey soliciting feedback on the trial.
“Teachers report less cheating,” Cross said. “Fewer internet connection issues. More students actually working in class.”
Cross said student reaction was on the opposite end of the spectrum.
“Students mentioned a lack of ability to study, do research, check email, contact parents, and not having access to emails,” Cross said. “Not being able to complete work from personal laptops, texting, gaming, streaming music and Netflix.”
“A lot of the distractions are parents texting their kids while they’re in class,” said school board vice chair Art Beaudry.
School board members voted to direct Cross to come back in January with pricing options for establishing one-to-one computing for students, the cost to set up a separate network for student Wi-Fi access and the cost for parents to purchase laptops for students.
The vote to reinstate Wi-Fi access was 8-6 in favor. Opposed were board members Rich Girard, John Avard, Art Beaudry, Ross Terrio, Jimmy Lehoux, and Kelly Thomas.