HUNTSVILLE, Ala — Huntsville City Schools said students will resume instruction beginning on Monday, December 7, following a cyberthreat the previous week.
The district said that students on a traditional, face-to-face schedule will return to campus on this date.
Elementary, middle and junior high school students will return to their normal schedule on this date and students will be provided assignments that will not require the use of district-issued devices until normal technology operations resume. Students enrolled in the Huntsville Virtual Academy will be able to pick up assignment packets no later than December 7 and the assignments will be due the following Monday, December 14. Individual schools are to communicate assignment pick-up and drop off procedures to parents.
All traditional, face-to-face high school students will attend in person on December 7 and the staggered cohort schedule will resume on Tuesday, December 8. Those in cohort A will attend in-person on December 8 and 9 and those in cohort B will attend on December 10 and 11. On December 14, students will resume attendance following the already set cohort schedule in the HCS reset plan.
Similarly, high school students will be provided assignments that will not require the use of their district-issued device.
"Our intention is to follow the above plan if possible; however, we continue to be thankful for your patience and flexibility," the district said.
Furthermore, school and district leaders returned to campuses on December 2 to plan for teachers to resume instruction. Teachers began to return to campus on December 3 to prepare lesson plans and materials.
Until the issue is resolved, devices should remain turned off, and users should continue avoiding logging into any HCS platforms.
Curbside meals will be served at all school campuses between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. for the remainder of the week.
The district also says, "We know that our community is curious about the nature and impact of this cybersecurity threat. We can assure you that we will let you know as soon as we are able to do so responsibly. We will continue to provide you with frequent updates as we learn more about the situation."
Due to a potential cybersecurity threat, Huntsville City Schools dismissed classes early on Monday afternoon and canceled classes for the rest of the week.
Until the threat is resolved, parents and students have been asked to shut down any district-issued electronic devices. The devices should remain off until further notice. People should also avoid logging onto any Huntsville City Schools platforms until the matter has been resolved.
Curbside meals will be served at all campuses from Wednesday, December 2, through Friday, December 4, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The district issued the following statement regarding the cyberthreat:
Students will not return to campuses, and any virtual/remote learning will not occur for the remainder of the week. Plans for next week will be shared in the coming days.
Principals, assistant principals, and Operations staff who are notified by their supervisor will return on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. Additionally, district personnel will return on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. Teachers and all other HCS employees will return to campuses beginning Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020 to prepare materials for students. Supervisors will contact employees regarding schedules.
HCS will serve curbside meals at select locations Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020 through Friday, Dec. 4, 2020. Meal service locations will be announced when they are finalized.
The district is working with local and federal authorities, and this is an active investigation.
As part of this investigation, HCS is continuing to work in conjunction with authorities to determine if any or what information may have been compromised. HCS is aware that some families at several campuses may have received phone calls regarding internet access for students. This does not appear to be connected to the cybersecurity threat. As a precautionary measure, these calls have been reported to law enforcement authorities as part of the investigation.
Families will not receive any district correspondence requesting their student’s name or personal information. HCS encourages families to be extremely cautious in sharing personal information with anyone. Avoid opening any emails and do not click on any links from unfamiliar email accounts. HCS updates will continue to be shared via official district platforms including Schoolcast (call, text, email), district social media platforms, and the district website at huntsvillecityschools.org.
Ensure HCS devices remain off, and do not log on to any HCS platforms until further notice.
The HCS Board of Education work session originally scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020 will be rescheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020.
HCS administrators are working to resume classes as quickly as possible. We will keep you informed as we continue to consult with authorities and determine plans moving forward.
The district said the issue appears to be a ransomware attack. They are working with local and federal authorities to investigate the issue. An announcement will be made on Tuesday once plans are finalized, according to Huntsville City Schools.
According to the districts, employees will be returning to work starting December 2.
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