Shelby County Schools tests internet ahead of the first day of school

Updated: Aug. 20, 2020 at 4:27 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - More than 95,000 students and staff will log in in just over a week for Shelby County Schools’ first day of school. With everyone starting the school year virtually, quality internet access is at the forefront of the district’s mind.

Shelby County Schools asked all those students and staff to power up their devices Thursday, kind of like they would on a virtual school day. IT and internet providers wanted to get a good idea of how well the networks will handle all these connected devices.

“My husband and I, we didn’t even think about the fact that there could be so many more people on our internet system at that time,” said SCS parent Joann Massey.

To prepare for all that connectivity, everyone with those SCS-issued devices were asked to power them up at the same time Thursday morning.

“It was slow getting on, and we have pretty good internet,” Massey said.

That’s exactly what SCS IT and internet providers are looking for. The district said while these power-up hours happen, those providers will monitor any crashes or slow downs and troubleshooting any issues.

To perform the test, families are asked to log on and try to use a meeting platform, like Microsoft Teams, download and watch a YouTube video or use an interactive website.

“One of the twins was complaining this is so slow, but I think she’s used to her phone being faster,” Massey said.

Massey has two children at White Station High School and sat on the SCS S.A.F.E. Re-entry Task Force. While she experienced some slow downs, she credits the district for testing issues before the first day of school.

A second power up hour will take place Aug. 27 from 9-10 a.m.

"Power up and let the district see what that looks like," Massey said. "You can also ease your anxiousness by doing this test."

SCS released a statement Thursday afternoon about the test:

This morning, in collaboration with community stakeholders and internet providers, Shelby County Schools facilitated a network pressure test between 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. to gauge internet bandwidth capacity with increased traffic online. Preliminary reports from vendors show that there was an uptick in the amount of online traffic during the test, however, no limitations in capacity or noticeable issues with network performance were detected in the Shelby County area. Our internet providers will continue to monitor the network for any foreseeable issues as we continue to bring more devices online. Shelby County Schools has also requested for providers offering cost-effective internet plans to families to provide unlimited data to those families through December 31, in support of effective distance learning across the county. Shelby County Schools will continue to work with providers to ensure network preparedness ahead of the first day of school. A second pressure test will be held on Thursday, August 27. The District is here to assist students and families with technical issues and questions about virtual learning platforms. Our Support Hotline is available M-F, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., at (901) 416-5300.

SCS goes back to school Aug. 31. WMC Action News 5 reached out to the six other municipal school districts to see if there were any issues with connectivity during the SCS power-up.

Lakeland and Millington schools said there were no reports of major slow downs. No other districts have responded.

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