Afternoon classes delayed, cancelled due to regional connectivity issues


Greer Vermilye

Connectivity issues around noon caused interruptions of the school day.

By Lily Freeman

Tens of thousands of people across the East Coast experienced connectivity issues with the Verizon Fios internet service this afternoon — likely due to a fiber cut in New York City — including a number of Whitman students and staff who faced difficulties accessing their online classes. Zoom, Google and the county’s virtual networking system, MyMCPS Classroom, were among the platforms that experienced severe lags.

Over 20,000 people reported issues with Verizon as of 12:08 p.m., according to, a website that records complaints about connectivity.

Whitman staff members received an email from MCPS at 12:20 p.m. confirming that the issues were regional. About half an hour later, the school system made a similar announcement to the public.

“There is a problem nationally affecting Internet access and access to many tools including Zoom, Google and Canvas,” MCPS tweeted at 12:48 p.m. “Students may experience delays accessing their classes.” 

The school system added a link to its own website that displays the functionality of education-related platforms, including Zoom, MyMCPS Classroom and Synergy, which contains grades and class schedules. By 2 p.m., the website had deemed all of the services “operational.”

While a number of teachers were able to carry out their afternoon instruction as planned, the issues delayed several classes and forced at least one to be completely cancelled.

Connectivity lags prevented social studies teacher Gregory Herbert from accessing Zoom, causing Herbert to call off his seventh period AP US History class. 

Though losing out on class time didn’t cause any serious consequences, the experience was disheartening for some students.

“This is the easiest way to communicate right now and at least be able to see your teachers a little bit,” senior Ta Costello said. “It’s not just in our area, though, and I feel bad for everyone who’s been affected by it.”

Sophomore Jasper Lester was also disappointed that Herbert had to cancel class, he said — but even before his seventh period began, Lester was already aware that connectivity issues may cause disruptions. At 11:30 a.m., Lester had logged onto Zoom to retake a math test, only to discover that the platform was lagging.

“No one got onto the Zoom until about 12, and at that point it was really slow,” Lester said. “Everyone had their cameras on, but you couldn’t actually see anything. It was all black; I couldn’t see anyone’s face.”

Lester’s teacher postponed the retake since the students had already missed half an hour of test-taking time before they were able to connect to Zoom.

 “It’s frustrating, but this is just what goes along with online school,” Lester said. “If school stays online through the end of the year, this is probably to be expected again.”

This is the second time in the past three days that connectivity issues have prevented students from accessing platforms crucial for their education. On Sunday evening, a number of students were unable to connect to MyMCPS Classroom to complete assignments and view announcements from teachers. The cause of the malfunction was unknown.

Though this afternoon’s issues were dispiriting for some, several teachers said that students’ flexibility was a bright spot during a tough period.

“When it wasn’t letting me in, it gave me a little anxiety,” said English teacher Christopher Williams. “I thought, ‘What if students just don’t show up?’ But everyone was able to come in, and contrary to my fears, everyone stayed. That was really nice.”

Today’s malfunctions were far from the first to prevent students from accessing their online classes. On November 30, widespread power outages caused over 600 students to report connectivity problems. 

“I think it’s a funny way to sort of mark what online learning is — having technical difficulties,” said freshman Joseph Akinyoyenu, whose seventh period class got delayed by 10 minutes this afternoon. “It’s just what happens in online learning. We get through it.”