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Glitches mar Barrington’s first day, reflecting a statewide challenge


BARRINGTON, R.I. (WPRI) — It was a frustrating morning for parents and students in Barrington after distance learning stalled for a few hours, but similar glitches are happening statewide, according to Gov. Gina Raimondo.

“Every day there are probably hundreds if not thousands of kids who have a glitch,” Raimondo said in her afternoon briefing on the coronavirus pandemic.

Day one of computers connecting homes to teachers in Barrington brought on various issues reported by parents within the first hour of the school day, which started around eight in the morning.

By just after 10:30, the school department in the town of 16,000 sent out a district-wide email stating internet connections were “spotty” and students were advised to “take a break.” The system was back up and running by about 1:30 in the afternoon.

One mother, who asked not be identified, said her children became so annoyed with connection problems that they asked when they could go back to school.

The COVID-19 pandemic won’t allow that anytime soon, but Barrington Superintendent Michael Messore said he is confident day two and beyond will go smoother.

“This is a new experience for all and there will be some obstacles to overcome,” Messore said. “Teachers will continue to remind students not to stress when there is a connection failure.”

Messore said resident-owned computers some students are using were not interrupted as often as the Chromebooks provided to families by the district, and he said the district is working with Cox Communications to smooth out the connection problems.

Cox spokesperson Jeffrey Lavery said the company’s network team confirmed there have been no major service disruptions since virtual learning started in the state on Monday.

“There is obviously increased traffic,” Lavery said. “But it has not caused widespread impacts.”

R.I. Department of Education (RIDE) spokesperson Pete Janhunen said several districts had growing pains on Monday, but overall the department was pleased with distance learning.

“We expected some bumps in the road, including website hiccups at some schools,” Janhunen said. “But our district and school leaders worked quickly to get ready to do something entirely new, and this week they dived into the deep end.”

Raimondo echoed that positivity.

“A few days into it, I feel great about it. It’s going better than I would’ve expected,” Raimondo said. “And I think a week from now, we’ll be in an even better position.”

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.

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