Eastside responds to the recent WiFi improvements at East

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Melissa Vital ('23)

The East Technology Department has implemented a lot of changes to improve the WiFi at East.

As students and teachers return to Cherry Hill East all together for the first time since March 2020, the technology department and school administrators have implemented changes to try to ensure a smooth and successful transition from virtual classrooms to in-person ones. This year more than ever, it is critical that students bring their devices to school since teachers are continuing to use online platforms that have been employed over the last two years. With that said, the WiFi connection at East – essential in the 21st century – has struggled to keep up with the recent influx of devices. Sometimes, students feel the WiFi connection is stable, other times, however, students cannot get a connection within the East halls. In response, students have voiced their concerns about East’s wavering WiFi, prompting the East Technology Department to react both appropriately and efficiently.

The Eastside Editorial Board would like to commend the East Technology Department for recognizing the WiFi connectivity difficulties and implementing the necessary changes. With new access points, increased accessibility, more technology directors on hand, and greater resources and funds going towards solving the problems, East has acted swiftly and directly for the benefit of their students’ educational demands.

Last April, East installed 120 new access points, called Arubas, throughout the building. These new access points are capable of sharing connections up to 150 feet. Therefore, access points are placed in every other classroom to reach the maximum number of students possible. The new Aruba access points have led to a significant improvement with the East WiFi. Previously, only 125 students could connect to each access point. However, with the help of new access points, 250 students are able to connect to a singular access point.

Although many Aruba access points were placed throughout East classrooms last spring, there were no access points in the hallways, until now. In the past, classrooms were the main focus for WiFi connection because they are where students do a majority of their work. However, the absence of access points in the East hallways did not satisfy the East community’s needs, causing the East Technology Department to make another change.

On the week of September 27, 2021, Aruba access points were added to the East Lobby, Main Entrance, Student Entrance, Cafe 1, Cafe 2, D Wing and C Wing, as well as a variety of other areas in the building. The newest Aruba additions have had an extensive impact on East students and have significantly improved East WiFi.

Jillian MacHenry (’22) said, “I have seen a significant improvement in the WiFi just over the last week of school.”

I have seen a significant improvement in the WiFi just over the last week of school.”

— Jillian MacHenry

According to an Eastside survey conducted prior to the new access points being put in place, 70 percent of students claimed that their class time is interrupted by WiFi issues ALL the time, while 30 percent of students find themselves having WiFi issues SOME of the time. It is evident that East students were constantly battling WiFi issues on a day-to-day basis.

Assistant Director of Technology Marc Plevinsky believes this could be attributed to issues in the first few minutes of class. In between classes, as students move through the hallways and hit each access point, the system gets overwhelmed, causing the WiFi to slow down at the beginning of each period. Plevinsky now believes the WiFi works efficiently for students as a result of the newly installed access points.

Although the East community does not realize this, the East Technology Department and administration has put an insurmountable amount of time and effort into improving the East WiFi. A lot of work and dedication goes on behind the scenes that students and teachers do not see.

Not only have Aruba access points been added throughout the building, but the authentication issues have also been resolved.

Rick Friedman, The District Field Technician, said, “Every time students open up their laptops, their device re-checks for authentication and has to re-connect to the WiFi, which can take up to 10 minutes.”

However, Friedman said this issue has been resolved now that wireless printers are no longer sharing WiFi with devices used in school. This recent change has allowed both students’ and teachers’ devices to connect exponentially faster.

East is not shutting off WiFi in between classes.”

— Marc Plevinsky

According to both Friedman and Plevinsky, East is not shutting off WiFi in between classes, discrediting a rumor that has spread. It may appear this way, but in reality, there are approximately 2,300 students and 150 faculty members all battling to use the WiFi services, sometimes with two to three devices each. With East being one of the largest schools in the area, it is extremely difficult to satisfy every technology user in the East community.

Another Eastside survey shows that 96.3 percent of students bring electronic devices to school. When put in perspective, a typical student has a computer, a phone, and sometimes a smart watch. Each device needs to connect to the East WiFi. As a result, there are thousands of WiFi connections made throughout the school day. The technology department understands this, which is why they have put a substantial amount of effort into improving the WiFi.

In essence, Eastside commends the East Technology Department’s efforts to improve the WiFi service at East and utilize funding effectively. The department’s willingness to implement changes has positively impacted the East community. Especially now, when nearly all East students take classes that involve WiFi and computers, just as much as paper and pencil assignments, it is important that all technology-related issues are resolved. Despite what the student body may think, East has been working to solve problems voiced to them by students and staff. That being said, Eastside advises disgruntled students to ask questions and try and understand the circumstances before resulting to mere speculation. Once again, Eastside would like to recognize the East Technology Department for being a great example of managing the current difficulties quickly and efficiently.