COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton County Schools’ first day of virtual instruction got off to a shaky start Tuesday morning thanks to technical difficulties.
At approximately 8 a.m., the district announced it was experiencing issues with its internet service as AT&T “had a circuit go out” around 3 a.m., which led to systemwide issues.
In an online address Friday, Sept. 4, Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey predicted such technical issues would likely occur and had a two-word suggestion for how to make it through: be patient.
“[We] will be working hard to address any issues that you may encounter,” she said during her address. “This is new for all of us. Please be patient with us as we navigate this new experience.”
If students encounter a technical problem, Fuhrey said support could be found at the student’s respective school website or at newtoncountyshcools.org.
In the same address, Fuhrey said the school system had deployed more than 11,000 devices and more than 2,000 internet access resources to students across the county. However, the arrival of approximately 6,200 Chromebooks have been delayed, she said. The reason is likely the nationwide push for virtual learning causing a shortage, Fuhrey said, and a timetable for receiving the devices is “uncertain.”
Since the issue arose, Fuhrey said each school has developed a plan to support students lacking a device or internet access. Students can use a landline or cell phone to listen in as teachers provide instruction via Zoom, she said.
“None of this is an ideal situation,” she said. “I, too, am a parent of a Newton County School System student and I understand the frustration you may be experiencing. The start to this school year is certainly unconventional, but I believe that our students, staff, families and community are strong — strong enough to withstand this trial. Together we can accomplish anything. We will get through this, but it will require that everyone takes a deep breath and understands that no one on our Newton County School System team is enjoying not serving our students in the most traditional way, and that’s in person.”
Fuhrey said she looked forward making the transition to in-person instruction soon. Newton County Schools recently announced its plan for a ‘gradual’ return to in-person learning beginning Sept. 21.