Students make their way after school at Edmonds-Woodway High School on March 12, 2020. All public and private schools in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties must close for six weeks. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Students make their way after school at Edmonds-Woodway High School on March 12, 2020. All public and private schools in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties must close for six weeks. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

After Edmonds schools internet outage, staff ‘teaching like it’s the 1900s’

“Suspicious activities” on the district’s network delayed classes and caused schedule havoc. “Kids are using pencil and paper again.”

EDMONDS — Grades are on hold, people are communicating by telephone and students have reverted to pencil and paper — some of the consequences from a three-day internet outage at the Edmonds School District.

The outage began around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, the same day of the new semester, amid “suspicious activities” on the district’s network. Schools remained offline Thursday.

Further details on what caused the outage are “limited” because of an ongoing investigation, according to posts by the district. An Edmonds School District spokesperson could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Educators joke that they are “teaching like it’s the 1900s again,” said Andi Nofziger-Meadows, president of the Edmonds Education Association.

“Kids are using pencil and paper again. It’s pretty basic,” she said. “There is a lot more class discussion.”

A two-hour late start on Wednesday related to the outage frustrated many parents, who posted on social media about the short notice to find alternate child care. Nofziger-Meadows said the delay was necessary so the IT staff could help teachers log into computers after an overnight reset of all student and staff passwords to limit further security risks.

“Our tech staff has been working 24/7 on this,” she said. “It wasn’t a late start because we needed planning time. It was a late start so we could access materials.”

Nofziger-Meadows said the internet outage is “another curveball that’s been thrown in the last three years, when it seems like there’s been nothing but curveballs.”

It’s especially challenging because of timing.

“Tuesday was the first day of the new semester, and at middle and high school, there are classes that change at semester,” she said. “All of the class lists are online, so nobody had class lists to know who to expect to show up in which period.”

Instead, teachers manually listed the names of students who attended their classes. They’ve reverted to other pre-internet education strategies for activities and curriculum, Nofziger-Meadows said.

“Learning is still happening. And people are making the best of it,” she said.

Teachers aren’t able to enter grades, however, because the software they use requires internet access. The district is adjusting its grading schedule to accommodate, according to district posts.

Phones, fire alarm systems, most building intercom systems and HVAC systems are still operating. For urgent needs, including attendance or pick-up and drop-off plans, parents should call the district or visit the school offices in person.

Mallory Gruben is a Report for America corps member who writes about education for The Daily Herald.

Mallory Gruben: 425-339-3035;; Twitter: @MalloryGruben.

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