N.Y. School Blocks Cell Phones from Wi-Fi Network

The school’s new policy is intended to free up bandwidth on its network.

When a school’s Wi-Fi doesn’t have enough bandwidth to support numerous devices, it’s going to run into problems.

The New York Times reported Jan. 14 that in order to provide enough bandwidth for online educational needs, the Bronx High School of Science has started booting students’ cellphones off of the school network and blocking them from re-connecting.

“We don’t want to exacerbate the problem we already have any more,” Bronx Science Principal Jean Donahue said. Donahue also noted that the school’s network has been struggling for several years under an increasingly technology-heavy curriculum, and that the Education Department was working with the school to increase its broadband capacity.”

The struggle with providing enough bandwidth for all devices in the school comes after the New York City Education Department lifted a long-held ban on cellphones in school buildings last year, allowing students to once again bring their personal cellphones to school.

The article further reported that Bronx High School of Science only allows students to use their phones at lunch and during free periods, and had blocked Facebook from being accessed through the wireless network. However, students used the network to watch YouTube, Netflix, and send pictures over Snapchat, as they were not blocked by the school.

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Donahue is currently working with the Education Department to improve the school’s broadband capacity, starting with short-term upgrades and working towards a more systemic upgrade.

Bronx High School of Science’s struggle with broadband capacity is just one example of the many schools that have struggled with similar Wi-Fi issues.

Technology has provided teachers and students with an immense amount of new teaching and learning opportunities, which has led schools across the globe to implement various types of devices and tools to help improve their students’ educational experiences.

Many schools have put the cart before the horse, however, when it comes to implementing technology that requires access to the internet. When a school’s network is not assessed beforehand, schools run the risk of not being able to support the amount of devices needing to access the network, and also put the network at risk for being hacked.

In order to avoid these challenges, schools need to ensure they have a robust and feature-rich wireless platform in place that will allow them to support numerous devices and block access to potentially dangerous or distracting sites.

To learn more about managing student devices, check out our sister publication Tech Decisions‘ in-depth guide to Managing the Mobile Devices on Your School Network.

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