- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Arlington Public Schools officials said they will resume online instruction Thursday morning after having canceled all remote learning Wednesday because of a severed fiber optic cable that halted the school system’s web portal.

Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia said APS’ internet service provider doesn’t know who cut the fiber optic cable. All of the school system’s internet service was restored at 1 p.m. Wednesday, the APS website reported.

The network outage affected all 26,895 students and most of the 4,000 staff members, but did not impact meal services.

The school system said that it was alerted about the cable cut in Vienna on Tuesday night and that the internet provider was unable to restore service in time for virtual classes Wednesday morning.

APS advised any parents experiencing technology issues with its website to contact the school system’s technical support team.

“Again, we apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your continued patience,” read a statement on the APS website.

Due to the network outage, the school system has extended to Friday the deadline for families to choose online-only instruction or a hybrid approach that combines remote learning and in-person classes. Wednesday had been the final day for families to choose an education option.

All Arlington County public school students started the academic year with virtual learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the school system has outlined a phased approach for having students return to classrooms.

The public school system also is working on a backup network link that should be up and running at the end of the month, should a similar situation occur again, Mr. Bellavia said.

Arlington Public Schools’ internet failure mirrored an incident that shut down Virginia’s online voter registration portal last week and required a federal judge to extend the registration deadline.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge John Gibney Jr. allowed Virginians to register through the end of last Thursday. Tuesday had been the original deadline.

There were 7,293 updated or new registrations last Wednesday and 7,044 others last Thursday, the Virginia Department of Elections said.

A 10-gigabit fiber optic circuit was cut accidentally during a Chesterfield County roadside utilities project, causing a network outage that lasted several hours.

Lindsay LeGrand, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Information Technologies Agency, last week said that a temporary repair using an above-ground line was installed, then a permanent, underground line.

Secretary of Administration Keyanna Conner said the fiber optic cable had been installed in the spring to help shift to remote work during the pandemic.

• Shen Wu Tan can be reached at stan@washingtontimes.com.

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