Should routine utility maintenance be done during virtual learning hours?

Updated: Sep. 17, 2020 at 5:44 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - It takes a village, and some parents believe there are companies leaving their children behind while virtual school continues. A Memphis dad is frustrated after having an internet and power outage two days in a row.

We know companies like MLGW and internet providers like Comcast have to do routine maintenance. Sometimes that means service is affected. In an age of virtual learning, those services are depended on even more, and one dad is asking who is holding those companies accountable for helping provide the best education possible for students.

“I would think the education of our children would be a top priority like mask mandates,” Russell Casey said.

After a strong start to virtual learning, Casey is trying to get answers as to why he’s experiencing so many power and internet outages while his daughter is in virtual school though Shelby County Schools.

“We are not the only ones. I’ve heard story after story,” Casey said.

In his Binghampton-area neighborhood there was an MLGW outage then a Comcast outage the next day.

“Not due to any act of God,” Casey said.

He said he understands the outages were due to routine maintenance. He’s wondering why this kind of maintenance is taking place during the school day when these services are needed even more.

WMC Action News 5 reached out to both companies about routine maintenance during virtual learning hours.

Comcast said it tends to perform routine maintenance during low traffic times, like overnight, but a spokesperson said, “Our policy is to restore service, when it is down as quickly as possible, especially when multiple people or businesses are impacted. Sometimes we have to weigh the options of potentially having a short interruption to restore multiple customers, versus leaving them without service until a maintenance window.”

Casey has even turned to the Mayor’s Office for help. He’s hoping local officials can hold companies responsible for disrupting the online school day.

“Where is the disconnect between our local government and these companies who provide the essentials,” Casey said.

WMC Action News 5 asked Mayor Strickland’s Office if the city can do anything to encourage or incentivize these companies to avoid any kind of routine maintenance during the school day. We were told that question was better suited for those companies.

MLGW released the following statement Thursday evening:

"Yes, our core construction business hours are from 7-3:30 p.m. We understand that maybe an inconvenience, but by performing these daily tasks it will prevent more frequent and longer outages in the future.

Please note if an extended outage is required, all affected customers will be notified prior to make the necessary arrangements."

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