The Toronto District School Board has blocked all Wi-Fi access to Snapchat, Instagram and Netflix after discovering that the sheer volume of traffic to the popular sites was slowing down its network and making it “nearly impossible” for teachers to complete attendance and other necessary tasks online.
In a message posted to their website on Tuesday, the TDSB revealed that traffic to the three websites accounted for 20 per cent of its total network activity and has slowed down the internet to the point that teachers are having difficulty completing “operational tasks, such as attendance, registration and report cards.”
The TDSB said that the sites will be blocked until June 30.
“We are working on a more permanent solution that will include providing all TDSB schools with newer and faster network access,” the TDSB said. “Work will start soon and continue throughout the summer. We expect an improvement for September and that regular Wi-Fi access will resume.”
TDSB spokesperson Shari Schwartz-Maltz told CP24 that about 47 per cent of the board’s schools use an older network that is more susceptible to lagging and other slowdowns.
Maltz said the decision to temporarily block Snapchat, Instagram and Netflix was taken after staff determined that largely recreational use of those sites was affecting more important activities.
“This is a really busy time of year at the schools – they are doing kindergarten registration, they are doing attendance, they are entering report cards - and it has been affecting our own network usage and that just can’t happen,” she said.
TDSB apologizes to students
Maltz said that while students can no longer use TDSB Wi-Fi to access Instagram, Netflix and Snapchat, they can still reach the sites using their own data.
Meanwhile, in a message posted to Twitter on Tuesday the TDSB expressed regret for having to block the sites at all, saying “sorry fam” and explaining that their network “just can't handle it.”
One student then asked the TDSB asking how many retweets he would have to get to convince them to unblock the sites but the TDSB responded “Unfortunately, we are not Wendy’s”
The fast-food chain then weighted in, tweeting “That's the new catchphrase of our competitors.”
Wendy’s has, of course, been in the news after a teenager’s plea for a year of free chicken nuggets was retweeted more than three million times, setting a new record for the most retweets ever.
Wendy’s did agree to give that teen his year of free chicken nuggets but it doesn’t appear as though the TDSB is willing to back down on its new Wi-Fi policy, even if it does go viral.