Updated: Haverhill Schools to Resume Friday; 140 Computers Found Infected by Cyberattack

Haverhill School Superintendent Margaret Marotta. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill school grades from pre-kindergarten to fourth are back to school in person Friday, but dealing with the lingering effects of Wednesday’s ransomware attack.

School buildings will not have standard internet, but a “workaround” is in place to bring internet in from outside to use such programs as SchoolBrains, Google programming and eSped. Haverhill Superintendent Margaret Marotta told the School Committee Thursday night there are also certain hotspots operating within the schools for nurses, clerks and others to check student safety issues. Marotta briefed members on the extent of the attack.

“They discovered remnants or information on roughly 140 of our computers which, given the numbers of computers we have in the district is pretty good,” she said.

The superintendent said “it is a very long, slow process” to review and clean each computer in the district before putting it back into service. She said the schools are being assisted by Haverhill Police, FBI, Homeland Security and an outside cybersecurity consultant.

Besides pre-k through fourth grade for cohorts A, B and C, the TEACH and Greenleaf Academy students participating in in-person learning will continue to do so. Those in grades five through 12, students in the Remote Learning Academy or students otherwise learning remotely will remain “fully remote” instead of remote with synchronous learning.

School officials are asking parents and guardians of all pre-k through fourth students to send children back with a note, confirming contact number and each child’s mode of transportation home. Marotta explained, “We are asking this out of an abundance of caution. While we will have access to our information systems, that access will be limited and we want to have quick access to any needed information.”

The ransomware attack Wednesday shut down remote learning, email, telephones and other system and forced the cancellation of in-person as well as remote classes Thursday.

Assistant Superintendent Michael Pfifferling said local and federal law enforcement are investigating. He said Wednesday, “Our security system caught the issue before any damage was done and shut itself down (as it is designed to do). We are working to rebuild the network.”

--Earlier--

Haverhill school grades from pre-kindergarten to fourth should plan on going back to school in person Friday, but with the effects of Wednesday’s ransomware attack still lingering, there could still be changes.

School buildings, however, will not have WiFi, making web-based programs such as Google inaccessible from inside the buildings. The Haverhill School Committee is expected to receive updates and a full report on the situation tonight at its meeting, which begins at 7. Haverhill Superintendent Margaret Marotta began informing families this afternoon.

“This is an evolving situation. Our IT Department has been working around the clock and we are making progress as expected. This is a slow and tedious process,” she said.

Besides pre-k through fourth grade for cohorts A, B and C, TEACH and Greenleaf Academy students participating in in-person learning will continue to do so. Those in grades five through 12, students in the Remote Learning Academy or students otherwise learning remotely will return to online instruction.

School officials are asking parents and guardians of all pre-k through fourth students to return a note in children’s back packs, confirming contact number and each child’s mode of transportation home. “We are asking this out of an abundance of caution. While we will have access to our information systems, that access will be limited and we want to have quick access to any needed information,” Marotta explained.

The ransomware attack Wednesday shut down remote learning, email, telephones and other system and forced the cancellation of in-person as well as remote classes Thursday.

Assistant Superintendent Michael J. Pfifferling said local and federal law enforcement are investigating. He said Wednesday, “Our security system caught the issue before any damage was done and shut itself down (as it is designed to do). We are working to rebuild the network.”

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