A construction misstep cut a critical link for school Internet connections, severing service to schools throughout San Joaquin County and Stanislaus County for nearly 24 hours. A workaround was expected to get Web links up and running again by Tuesday night.
The outage at 4 p.m. Monday took down the primary and redundant Internet lines of the Stanislaus County Office of Education, which provides high-speed Internet to most Stanislaus County school districts, said Wade Williams, SCOE director of network services.
“This was a construction accident. A major fiber optic line was cut,” Williams said. An unspecified construction site along Highway 99 was to blame, he said. “They are not repairing the fiber optic line at the cut; that’s too big a mess. They are routing fiber optic cable around the cut, which will take less time,” he said. “They’ve told me they are confident it will be resolved today.”
However, two previous estimated times were missed. “We had a noon estimated time of repair. That came and went. We had an estimated time of repair at 2 p.m. That has now come and gone,” Williams said about 3 p.m.
The slice disconnected SCOE and the San Joaquin County Office of Education from the source of high-speed, low-cost school broadband service, the CENIC line, which stands for the Corporation for Educational Network Initiatives in California, a nonprofit.
I don’t know if we’re going all the way back to chalk. We might go to whiteboards.
Wade Williams, Stanislaus County Office of Education
While internal emails were still available, the agency’s websites were down Tuesday and students were unable to do research or connect to online teaching programs. “There was definitely an impact on education,” Williams said.
The outage left Modesto City Schools campuses and offices without external Internet connections. Internal servers for some employee services remained functional, said Becky Fortuna, the district’s public information officer.
“We’re all using our phones more than we have in a long time,” Fortuna said.
At Grace Davis High, where all the students have laptops and textbooks are digital, students were able to access their school books without Internet, she said. “All their textbooks have been scanned and put on their devices,” she said.
Ceres Unified, which links to the Internet through Charter Cable, was unaffected, said Assistant Superintendent Jay Simmonds.
In San Joaquin County, the Office of Education also lost its CENIC line, said spokesman Zack Johnson. The San Joaquin County office provides service for eight of the county’s school districts, including Ripon and Escalon, Johnson said.
Merced County schools were not affected, said Nathan Quevedo with the Merced County Office of Education. “We’re up and running. It looks good here,” Quevedo said Tuesday.