Community Education Police & Fire

Internet outages at some schools linked to attempted copper thefts

Posted on May 30th, 2024 By:

Four schools on the Key Peninsula last week experienced internet outages linked to reports of attempted copper thefts in the vicinity of Peninsula School District’s central office.

Vandals damaged communication lines hanging on power line poles in an apparent attempt to steal copper wire, according to district spokeswoman Danielle Chastaine. The lines don’t contain copper, however.

Outages occurred May 21 at Key Peninsula Middle School, and Evergreen, Vaughn and Minter Creek elementary schools. All those schools but Evergreen were hit again on Friday, May 24, Chastaine said.

The district’s internet service provider repaired the damage on both days. One vandalism site was roughly 27,000 feet from the district’s central administration building in Purdy; the other was roughly 31,000 feet away. The outage did not affect the admin office or nearby Purdy Elementary.

The outages affected both internet access and phones, which are VoIP (voice over internet protocol).

“During phone outages, our school administrators have cell phones and radios to contact each other and families, if necessary,” Chastaine said.

Families who called a school’s main office during an outage would not have been able to get through. But they could have called the principal or other administrators, who have district numbers that connect to their cell phones, Chastaine said. They also could have called the district office, which relayed messages to the schools during outages.

Without internet, teachers had to fall back on old-school instruction.

“We want to highlight and express how thankful we are for the flexibility of our KP school staff who quickly came up with alternative lesson plans and enriching experiences for students during the outages,” Chastaine said.

Intercom systems were down during the outages, but some staff equipped with walkie talkies managed communication with each other and administrators throughout the buildings.