Livingston Public Schools

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  • TECHNOLOGY UPDATE, 12/6/19

    Dear LPS Community:

    I wanted to connect with our Livingston Public Schools Community as we continue our recovery efforts and district-wide response to the encrypting of our technology systems.

    It has now been two weeks since we confirmed that our system was compromised. School has been in session for seven days since then.  During this time, our technology issue has been our top priority. We have learned that, even with our technology staff working nights and weekends, recovery has many moving parts and restoring a technology system from the “ground up” on a large scale takes a significant amount of time.  We are attempting to accomplish months of work in a matter of weeks. We have made some meaningful progress over the past two weeks, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us. We know more, but are still seeking information and answers.

    We are in the midst of our full investigation and we are working through our recovery plan.  We have made meaningful strides in our efforts to restore our capacity to utilize technology throughout the district.  Our internet and phone systems are up, running, and functioning well. Additionally, this week, we began the difficult process of getting each of our PC-based computer devices cleaned to ensure that they are virus-free.  As we systematically address each of the 4,000 potentially impacted devices, our amazing educators continue to provide excellent instruction for our students at all levels. I am pleased to report that technology is being used productively in classrooms throughout the district.

    I have been so impressed with the flexibility, creativity, and professionalism our teachers have shown since this occurred.  They are clearly determined to move our students forward academically despite the setback. We are working to restore all aspects of our Genesis system. We know that everyone wants to be able to see grades online again as soon as possible.  At the moment, we remain unable to provide broad access to Genesis or to create report cards. Students are currently receiving academic feedback through graded and reviewed assignments and assessments from teachers. For now, these assignments and assessments will be their primary source of academic feedback.  We ask that you communicate with your children about how they are doing in their classes. Teachers will not be able to respond to individual grade requests from parents.

    Like you, we are anxious to have all of our systems back in use.  This will remain a daily focus for us, and resources will continue to be deployed to enhance our efforts to move us forward.  We are utilizing the assistance of professional consultants in addition to a technology firm that partnered with the City of Baltimore when their systems were recently infected by a similar virus.  As this situation has unfolded, we have learned about similar occurrences in other school districts, colleges, businesses, and government entities throughout the country. Unfortunately, there have been others even more recent than ours.  

    I ask for your continued patience.  In the letter I sent to the community on November 22nd, I stated that the district was informed by our consultants that it could take “weeks” for us to begin to feel technologically back to “normal” after our cyber attack.  In my meeting with staff and parents, both held on November 25th, I expressed that we would most likely not be on solid footing with technology until December break. Another New Jersey School district, whose systems were compromised at the end of September, informed us that, two months after their cyber-incident, they were still addressing some issues with their systems.  While data recovery efforts are ongoing, our consultants and other professionals continue to advise us not to share specifics about our data recovery efforts since this is an ongoing investigation. Consequently, we remain unable to communicate at all about that aspect of our work.  

    While, in the digital age, we have become accustomed to quicker fixes, everyone we speak with who is familiar with these crimes, reminds us that we have weeks, not days, of rebuilding ahead of us.  Again, considering how far we have already come, I believe we will know more, and become much more functional between now and winter break.

    Thank you, as always, for your partnership and understanding as we navigate this challenge together.

    Sincerely,

    Matthew J. Block, Superintendent of Schools

     

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