Ransomware attack prompts Haverhill Public Schools to cancel in-person, remote classes

HAVERHILL, MASS. (WHDH) - Haverhill Public Schools students will not be reporting to class Thursday after the district suffered a ransomware attack to its computer system.

Superintendent Margaret Marotta announced that school was canceled for all students, including those in grades two, three, and four, who were supposed to report back for in-person learning.

The district’s IT department recognized the attack early Wednesday morning and shut down the system before large-scale corruption could occur, Marotta said.

They are working with Haverhill police and Homeland Security to safely return their system to operational capacity as soon as possible.

Email, Schoolbrains, and Google Meet are among features that are down, as well as the school’s phone systems which went intermittently down throughout the day.

“We know this is heartbreaking for many that were looking forward to a return to something near normal, and we are hopeful that school will resume on Friday, but we are not able to confirm whether or not school will be in session on Friday at this time,” Marotta said. “We will keep you posted.”

Haverhill Mayor Jim Fiorentini added that the city and the school district have separate IT systems and that it appears the school district is the only one affected.

“Ransomware is one of our biggest nightmares,” he said. “We spend a lot of time, energy, and money working on preventing it. Numerous cities throughout the country have been taken over, some shut down for weeks or months. We never want to be in that position.”

Fiorentini continued that the school’s IT department is working hard to restore the computer system.

The district is offering grab-and-go lunch sites from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the four middle schools and from 3 to 4 p.m. at the high school. Additionally, pop-up lunch sites will be open from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 a.m. at Fanntini’s Bakery parking lot and 12:30 to 1 p.m. at the Haverhill Public Library parking lot.

Marotta says the missed day is being considered a snow day and will be made up at the end of the school year.

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