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Internet capacity problems disrupt Baltimore County public school classes

Baltimore County public schools Thursday reported an internet outage that prevented teachers from connecting with students who attend class online.

The school system exceeded its firewall capacity around 8:15 a.m., according to a statement from the district that serves about 111,000 students.

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Spokesman Charles Herndon said the primary cause of the outage stems from too many students using the Google Meets application, both at home and in person.

In anticipation of this issue, administrators sent a memo to schools last week to remind them that students do not need to log on if they’re attending in person.

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Students within the classroom were encouraged Thursday to turn off their cameras to relieve the strain on the firewall, according to a statement from the school system.

Baltimore County is offering a blend of in-person and online classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, making internet service essential for lessons. The district has been bringing more students back gradually since March.

Linda Garey was frustrated when her sophomore son returned Thursday from his first day back in Patapsco High School complaining that he spent the day doing nothing because of the internet issues, she said.

“They should have predicted this and had paper work available [for students],” she said.

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Garey, who runs a daycare, said she does not allow the children in her care to spend more than 30 minutes on screens each week. She wondered allowed why schools do not operate the same way.

“A lot of students who do go back are students like mine who really feel like they need the help,” Garey said.

Herndon said the school system didn’t believe the disruptions would be a recurring problem and are unrelated to past outages and a ransomware attack last November that crippled the school system’s computer networks.

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