HAVERHILL, MASS. (WHDH) – Haverhill Public Schools students did not report to class Thursday after the district suffered a ransomware attack on 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.
“Several of them jumped out of bed and came into work before dawn the other morning and quickly shut down the system and began to try to determine what was going on,” Marotta told School Committee members at a meeting Thursday evening.
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.
Marotta says the missed day is being considered a snow day and will be made up at the end of the school year.
Superintendent Marotta says they caught it early enough to avoid serious damage to the system, but it will be painstaking work to get it up and running and school will resume tomorrow.
“It’s a very long, slow process that they have to go through to be sure the virus doesn’t pop up again in our system,” she said.
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