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A phishing e-mail shouldn’t be able to close an entire school system

As if the school year could not be more of a mess for students, teachers and parents, Huntsville City Schools are now closed because of a cybersecurity attack.

This is a ransomware attack — the folks behind it usually demand a large sum of money for a release of the data. Schools, media companies and hospitals have paid the cost in the past, usually at a far smaller number than originally demanded to get the data back and get back online.

But, as for now, Huntsville City Schools are currently closed.

That’s right, it’s not a coronavirus closure or a substitute shortage; someone opened an e-mail phishing attack on Sunday evening and now they are trying to figure out how to get back online.

The school will be closed for the entirety of this week at a minimum.

Why?

Huntsville City Schools school boad member Carlos Matthews appeared on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” to discuss the issues the school district is having on Wednesday morning. Matthews says the issues are tied to the fact that the entire district has gone digital, crippling the schools district’s ability to communicate, do virtual learning and even monitor the medicines kept in nurses offices for students.

This is an embarrassing mess.

Matthews explained why the schools can not function: “Our buildings and everything about our school system is digital from top to bottom right now.”

That seems ridiculous but somewhat reasonable, as many children are at home doing school virtually and they have been told not to power on their devices.

But what about the kids who go to the physical schools everyday?

Well, according to Matthews, they can’t teach some of the kids and not all of the kids because of the law. The system has an obligation, according to Matthews, “we have to have equal education for all of our students and at the point the attack happened, it does not allow us to do that right now.”

Follow this logic, kids can’t go to school because the kids that aren’t going to school anyway can’t turn on their computers.

My producer, Copper, commented on this logic today by pointing out the obvious. She said that this is is like having two kids who need a heart-transplant and only one heart, so you have to let them both die.

There are many being hurt by these decisions.

What about disabled students?

What about parents who prepare for their kids to go to school every day?

What about their employers?

If the school systems in Alabama are unable to handle a week of school without the internet we have a problem, and they all need a contingency plan.

At a minimum, they should be opened up as quasi-daycare system for parents that need a place to send their kids.

If the school systems in Alabama are forbidden, by law, from opening their doors because of a technology issue that affects virtual students and other assets, then the law needs to change.

The school systems must be more nimble and smarter than this; the legislature and state school board may need to get involved.

Listen here:

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN.