Student Return to School Goes Smoothly

by | Sep 15, 2020

While some families at home struggle with technology issues

The new school year started in earnest for students on Tuesday, with some returning to the classroom and more tuning in from home. For many 

Students head for the EGHS entrance on the first day of in-person classes.

Familiar buses cruised the streets but they were filled with three or four students in most cases. Some students walked or rode bikes to school; many others were dropped off by car. There was no crush, since at the four elementary schools only half the students planning to attend in-person were present and at the middle and high schools, only about a quarter of the in-person students were there. 

The staggered approach gives schools a chance to test drive their COVID-19 protocols with fewer students. That was the idea and it seemed to work Tuesday. Students came out of buses and cars wearing face masks; there was no congregating outside the school buildings, and there were no reported health issues. 

At home, it was the older kids who had issues getting online, from social media reports. EGHS students attempting to join their class livestreams were shut out, in several instances, much to their frustration. 

According to Supt. Alexis Meyer, it was a Google problem, not a district problem. High school students use school issued Chromebooks; several families reported being able to log in if they used an alternate device. But of course not everyone has an alternate device. 

Technology Director Arnoff sent this email to Hanaford parents: 

“I just wanted to let you all know that there have been a number of reports about problems with Google Meets and Google Drive yesterday and especially today. This is happening all over the state including in Bristol and Burrillville as well as across the country.

“There have been and continue to be issues with Google application connectivity, slowness of the applications, and staying connected (people are getting kicked off). These are Google issues. These are not issues we can fix on our end.”

That said, Supt. Meyer told the School Committee Tuesday evening a team of computer engineers would be on site Wednesday to help troubleshoot issues. 

On Twitter Tuesday late afternoon, Google tweeted:

The service disruption with Google Drive should be resolved. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and continued support. Stay updated by following the Apps Status Dashboard: Thanks!

The district had hoped to have a Chromebook for every student by now. Its order of 1,000 additional Chromebooks, however, has been pushed back to October at the earliest and Meyer said she wasn’t overly optimistic they would arrive by then. 

“Not having those Chromebooks’s that we ordered is a challenge for us,” she said. “We can’t supply all of the Chromebooks we need at home and have enough for people at school. That’s disappointing.”

In the interim, those families that can supply other devices for their children have been asked to do so for now.

School Committee members Anne Musella and Alyson Powell – both with children in the district – urged the administration to communicate better with parents. 

As if to illustrate the point, one EGHS parent told EG News late Tuesday their family had not gotten any communication about connectivity issues (such as the one sent to Hanaford families) – this after a frustrating day for their two high school students.

Powell did note one success from her 4th grader’s distance learning today: when all the students at home were live-streamed in, their Zoom-like screen was shared on the classroom white board and it was the distance-learning students who did the talking for this particular lesson. 

Her daughter was psyched about that.

If you missed Tuesday night’s School Committee meeting, you can watch it HERE.

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September 16, 2020 4:33 pm

The district has worked so hard to make in person school happen – I think we should be applauding their efforts rather than focusing on a technical issue that was completely beyond their control.


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