Following a cyberattack detected on April 6, Minnesota’s Rochester Public Schools (RPS) has announced that it does not believe that any student data was accessed. Additionally, the school system said that it has no evidence that the affected data pertaining to RPS employees has been used for financial fraud or identity theft. Since the attack was detected, the school system has been working with third-party forensics experts as part of an ongoing investigation.
On April 7, RPS announced that its staff had discovered irregular activity on its network beginning the previous day. RPS technology staff responded by shutting down district-wide internet connection to review and address the issue.
As part of the ensuing investigation, students and staff have not been able to access their RPS Google accounts. While staff were able to regain access to their accounts last week, RPS said that beginning this week staff will be helping students reset their passwords to regain access to their accounts. RPS did note that while students will be able to access their Google suite, that does not mean students will have immediate access to all systems or to the RPS Internet. Rather, the school system said it will continue bringing systems back online “as quickly and securely as possible.”
As a result of the attack, the school system had to distribute hot spots to all school site offices for office staff to use for continuation of services. Additionally, due to their reliance on the internet, schools also had to manually override the controls for their cooling and heating systems, as well as restore access to copiers within school buildings.
Additionally, RPS schools had to cancel ACT testing due to a lack of access to computers and RPS’ network. The school system also had to postpone the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) testing, which was scheduled to start this week in many of the schools. RPS said in a statement that it plans to work with leaders at the Minnesota Department of Education in the days ahead to develop a strategy for state testing in Rochester Public Schools this spring.
In a statement earlier this month, RPS did acknowledge that having some technology systems down may impact 504 plans and Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for some students. RPS pledged to adapt to this situation as necessary in order to maintain continuity of service for students.