Melanie Burney The Philadelphia Investigator
A South Jersey school system kept schools closed on Thursday – the third day in a row – due to internet problems caused by an ‘unauthorized third party’, affecting more than 6,000 students and leaving parents scrambling for childcare .
Late Thursday afternoon, Monroe Township Superintendent Susan B. Ficke notified parents that internet service in the district had been restored and that the Gloucester County District would reopen schools on Friday.
“We would like to reiterate that we sincerely regret any inconvenience the emergency closure has caused to you and your family, and we thank you for your patience and understanding during this time,” the superintendent wrote. “We look forward to welcoming all students and staff back.”
In a letter to parents Monday, Ficke said the emergency shutdown was necessary because the district’s internet service had been disconnected.
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Ficke said the actions were caused by an unauthorized third party. Only technology staff employees were asked to report to school on Thursday. The district employs 800 teachers and support staff.
On Wednesday, she sent an update to parents: “We sincerely regret any inconvenience this may cause and want to assure all students, parents and staff that school administrators and IT professionals are working to resolve this issue as well. quickly and efficiently as possible.”
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Ficke and other school officials did not respond to phone messages Thursday.
Williamstown High School sophomore Anthony DeFelice told 6ABC that he used the internet in a lot of his classes and was not surprised when school was canceled. A sign on the school gate said all activities were canceled until further notice.
“There was something going on on Monday, and then they just canceled that night at about 8 p.m.,” DeFelice said.
Ficke initially told parents that holding classes without internet service would present logistical and security issues. Then later the parents were told that the problem was much more serious.
“Is it a computer thing or is it more than that?” Nina Seagrave, a mother of three, asked CBS3. She is concerned that personal information such as addresses and phone and social security numbers have been compromised.
Some parents have expressed their frustration on social media over childcare and missed school days. They said the district provided few details about a possible cyberattack and no information was provided on the district’s website.
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“I’m appalled…what is it?” a parent wrote. “You don’t need internet to go to school!! Ridiculous!”
Another parent added: “It’s a safety issue if phones and emergency contacts/medical information go through the internet.”
The sprawling district includes six schools in 42 square miles: four elementary schools, one middle school and one high school.
“I’m appalled…what is this? You don’t need the internet to go to school!! Ridiculous!”
Online comment from concerned parent
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