Huntsville City Schools prepares for students’ return following ransomware attack

Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — This is the third day of an ongoing investigation into a ransomware attack on Huntsville City Schools. School leadership teams and principals returned to work Wednesday to begin preparing for the return of teachers and students.

Though the investigation into the ransomware attack continues, Craig Williams, the chief communications officer says Wednesday was all about the ‘strategic planning process’ in getting students back to learning in the classroom.

“As you all know, there is a lot that goes into teaching and learning and the daily operations of the school system,” said Williams. “And so that’s been our focus today, not only the teaching and learning piece but everything that goes into teaching and learning as well.”

Since the Huntsville City School system shut down all technology on Monday due to a ransomware attack, all campuses have been closed to students, but Williams says at some point, the teaching and learning must go on.

“I’ve been asked that today in terms of what will teaching and learning look like when students get back into the buildings? And my answer is: it will look like exactly that,” said Williams. It will look like teaching and learning.”

Until the cybersecurity issue is fixed, technology will not be used. Williams says this gives an opportunity for teachers and students to return to the basics of teaching and learning with worksheets, reading, writing, and dialogue.

Some students within the district work full-time online, like those in the Huntsville Virtual Academy. Williams says the learning for those students may transition back to a blended learning style.

“I think back to blended learning that we did in March when the COVID pandemic hit originally,” said Williams” and we developed some of those packets. It will likely consist of something in that nature.”

As far as the ransomware investigation goes on Day 3, the district has not released what information might have been compromised in the attack or how much the ransom request is.

Williams says the issue will likely not be fixed quickly.

“Whenever it comes to anything cybersecurity related, it’s often a marathon, not a sprint,” he said. “This will, of course, take some time and we hope it’s, of course, sooner rather than later in terms of developing a resolution.”

Superintendent Christie Finley has yet to go on camera about the ransomware attack, but she did release a statement saying in part, quote”

“We ask for your support and flexibility during this time as we have only the best interests of students, families, and employees in mind.”

Christie Finley, Superintendent

Huntsville City Schools is expecting students to return to the classroom by next week but Williams says they will continue to provide updates on the plan.

Meanwhile, anyone with district-issued technology should continue to keep their devices turned off.

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