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Breakdown delays computer-based testing in Hernando schools

BROOKSVILLE — The Internet network serving the Hernando County School District has been down since Friday afternoon, forcing the cancellation of computer-based Florida Standards Assessment tests, which had been scheduled to start Monday.

The district has access to email, but very few other sites, said Joe Amato, the district's supervisor of technology and information services.

"It went down at the worst possible time," Amato said.

Because Internet access must be filtered in schools, the district connects to the Web through a state-run site, MyFlorida.com.

"It basically works as a gateway to the outside world," Amato said.

He and his staffers were able to briefly restore connectivity on Friday, but "it went down again over the weekend," he said.

His staff has been working around the clock to restore it, he said, helped by engineers from the state site and the private company in California that supports it.

The problem appears to be with MyFlorida.com's protective firewall, Amato said, and so far there is no evidence of hacking.

But there is no word of when access will be restored.

The situation has affected not just computerized testing — used by students in the eighth grade and above — but instruction that depends on Internet access, said district spokeswoman Karen Jordan.

Younger students, who use paper tests, have continued on their normal testing schedule, and computer-based testing will be rescheduled, Jordan said.

Contact Dan DeWitt at ddewitt@tampabay.com; follow @ddewitttimes.

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