HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — It’s “take two” for students in the Hartford Public Schools. The first day of class is starting a day late after a ransomware attack forced the district to postpone school Tuesday.
Late Tuesday afternoon, the district sent a letter out to parents that the school year would begin instead on Wednesday.
The letter read, in part:
We are pleased to announce that Hartford Public Schools will start school for both online and in-person learning tomorrow, Wednesday, September 9, 2020. We regret the unexpected delay and deeply appreciate your patience and flexibility as we resume our plans to welcome all our students back to school.Hartford Public Schools letter to parents Tuesday afternoon
Children across Hartford have the option to learn online exclusively or head back in a few days a week. For those who came back Wednesday for the first time since March, it’s a mixed bag of emotions.
A staggered start to day one. Grades 3,5,7,and 9 masked-up and heading back into classrooms across the capital city. This is certainly a new normal.
Due to the postponement of the first day Tuesday, Hartford Public Schools did announce an updated schedule to it’s staggered start for in-person students.
“Like going to the bathroom, having mask breaks, everything. It’s something we need to adjust to,” said Lexmari Alamo, 7th grader, Kennelly School.
Not all 18,000 students across the district are heading back. The hybrid model provides for some grades on certain days. And some opting to learn from home in hopes of keeping coronavirus away.
“They’re very resilient, you see that we did have a rough start yesterday,” said Stuart Beckford, Hartford Federation of Teachers.
Tuesday’s scheduled first day came to a quick halt after 200 city-wide servers were subject to a ransomware attack over the weekend. Teachers Union officials handed out masks at Kennelly School and praised safety measures in place.
“You see everyone out here is wearing masks, everyone is hand sanitizing and practicing social distance over my shoulder here. You see everyone is six feet apart,” said Beckford.
School staff directed students into several entrances. And even little ones who were nervous about heading back felt hopeful it would be more productive than remote learning.
“Well I don’t have no computer,” said a student.
Parents also have mixed feelings.
“A little nervous, especially with the pandemic stuff going on. We’re just going to have to see how things work out. I’m excited the start for her. We’re looking forward to it,” said Kevan Dantzler, parent.
As for the ransomware attack, a year ago, Hartford invested half a million dollars in a cybersecurity system. Mayor Luke Bronin says that investment paid off by limiting the damage of Saturday’s attack.
“There is one system that we knew yesterday was significantly compromised and that was our student information system, Power School,” Hartford Superintendent of Schools Leslie Torres-Rodriguez said. “That was a seven-hour rebooting process.”
But by Tuesday morning, IT workers were still trying to repair the system that controls bus routing and communicates real-time information about routes, and that’s why the superintendent made the call to postpone school.
Mayor Bronin said, “Our IT team will be prioritizing the effort to ensure that the school system is fully up and running, and ready to open as soon as possible. They’ll be going school to school, going desktop by desktop.”
That effort paid off, based on Tuesday afternoon’s announcement.
Web Extra: Mayor Bronin, Superintendent Torres-Rodriguez address ransomware attack that delayed the start of school
The attack is not a first for the City of Hartford; It has fought off prior attempts. Bronin says no student information was compromised.
According to UC Berkeley, these are the possible impacts of a ransomware attack:
In the end, the main cost to Hartford Public Schools was a one-day delay in reopening.