Melanie Barney The Philadelphia Inquirer
South Jersey’s school system closed schools for a third straight day Thursday, affecting more than 6,000 students and leaving parents out of child care being chased by
By late Thursday afternoon, Monroe Township Superintendent Susan B. Ficke notified parents that internet service was restored in the district and that the Gloucester County district would reopen schools on Friday.
The superintendent of education said, “I sincerely apologize for causing you and your family a great deal of trouble due to the declaration of a state of emergency. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation during this time.” We look forward to welcoming you.”
In a letter to parents Monday, Ficke said the district’s internet service had been cut, requiring an emergency shutdown.
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Ficke said these acts were caused by an unauthorized third party. Only technical staff employees were told to report to school on Thursdays. The school district employs her 800 teachers and support staff.
On Wednesday, she sent an update to parents. “We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and assure all students, parents and staff that the school administration and IT professionals are working to resolve this issue as quickly and effectively as possible. I think that I want to do it.”
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Ficke and other school officials did not respond to phone messages on Thursday.
Anthony DeFelice, a sophomore at Williamstown High School, told 6ABC that he uses the internet in many of his classes, and he wasn’t surprised when his school closed. A sign on the high school door said all activities were canceled until further notice.
“Something was going on on Monday and it got canceled around 8pm that night,” says DeFelice.
Ficke first told parents that holding classes without internet service would raise logistical and safety concerns. His parents were then told the problem was much more serious.
“Is it about IT or more?” Nina Seagrave, mother of three, asked CBS3. She worries that her personal information, including her address, phone number, and social security number, has been compromised.
Some parents took to social media to express frustration with their childcare and school absences. They said the school district provided few details about the possible cyberattack, and no information was provided on the district’s website.
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“I’m appalled… what is this?” wrote one parent. “I don’t need internet to go to school!! It’s ridiculous!”
Another parent added:
The sprawling district consists of 6 schools spread over 42 square miles. There are 4 elementary schools, 1 middle school and 1 high school.
“Shocking… what is this? You don’t need internet to go to school! It’s ridiculous!”
Online comments from concerned parents