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Students and teachers participating in in-person learning at Walker Upper Elementary School experienced an internet outage for nearly 45 minutes on Tuesday, the first day of the academic year at Charlottesville City Schools. 

The division is not offering in-person learning. The students at Walker were receiving in-person instruction through a partnership with YMCA. 

Families opting for in-person learning for their children go through third-parties that have agreed to partner with the school division. Third parties that need space can use the city schools buildings. 

“Some of our on-campus users — teachers and students —  had intermittent or no internet access from about 10:15 to 11 a.m.” said Beth Cheuk, a city schools spokeswoman. “Our internet filtering company, Securly, had a few East Coast servers down that impacted a number of school divisions.” 

Cheuk said the division focused more on getting the internet interruption resolved than quantifying the number of people impacted.

She added that the issue was resolved well before Charlottesville High School needed to log on before 12:30 p.m., meaning there was no impact there. 

There were about 50 students on campus in total, and the outage did not affect everyone, she said.  

“We will continue to have occasional internet or tech issues this fall, just as home users do,” Cheuk said. “In reality, we hope all our outages are like this one — only impacting a small number of users and fixed within 45 minutes.”  

Cheuk added that she’s thankful for the problem being small in scale because it would’ve been a rough day otherwise. 

Charlottesville wasn’t alone in having slight problems on Tuesday.

Phil Giaramita, spokesman for Albemarle County Public Schools, said there were common help desk items for the first day of school, such as problems with setting computer passwords and reports of the internet slowdowns or outages in households where there are multiple students.

“[There were] some isolated issues with CenturyLink service being temporarily out in the urban ring and out at Scottsville,” he added.

Unlike the city schools, Albemarle is serving a limited number of children in person. The county schools were expecting to serve between 1,000 and 1,500 of the division’s 14,000 on a voluntary basis.

They are students with disabilities that need in-person learning, students who don’t have adequate access to the internet and English-language learners.


Billy Jean Louis joined Charlottesville Tomorrow as its education reporter in April 2019 and is a graduate of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jean Louis speaks English, Haitian Creole and French.