New WiFi allows access at all schools, provides data to central office


Jade Pinkowitz

Montgomery County Public Schools' new wifi system requires that everyone login with their school username and password.

Jonah Graham and Ismael Cuevas

Beginning over the summer, Montgomery County Public Schools rolled out a new WiFi system that requires users, both students and staff, to login with their school username and password. 

According to principal Carol Goddard, the new WiFi system is not just specific to Watkins Mill, but all MCPS schools in an attempt to make things easier for administrators. “I think it came about because we, administrators would go to other schools and couldn’t log on because it was all separate and different,” Goddard said. “So they made sure it was the same everywhere we go.”

Watkins Mill High School’s IT systems specialist Paul Vance said,“The wMCPS SSID is going away due to the compromised security of the [Pre-Shared Key password].” In less technical terms, MCPS’s old network was redacted because the county did not feel the security used to authenticate and validate the PSK was secure enough.

Some students expressed concerns about whether central office had the ability to monitor or control student and staff devices. “No, they have no control over apps on your phone or anything like that,” Vance added. “But they can see the data traffic.” MCPS’s central office cannot really watch what anyone does on their devices, but they can see what websites people are visiting and what apps people are using.

“I don’t think you can go into Facebook or [play] games once you sign in. Those things will be blocked; they can control what can be blocked,” Vance said.

If a student accesses a forbidden website, it will appear in the central office logs. However, they can only see what website the student is using, not the exact content of their screen. “[Forbidden websites] will come up. Central office will see that and notify the school,” Goddard added. “The school can then [revoke wifi privileges] from that person for a little while.”

The school computers are on a different virtual local area network than personal devices. Therefore, teachers are expected to use GoGuardian to monitor what students do on computers. 

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