RPS cancels school Monday after cyber attack

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(ABC 6 News) – Rochester Public School students are getting an extension on their spring break after the districts superintendent called off all classes Monday due to no internet access.

RPS Supt. Kent Pekel says that “unusual activity was detected on the districts technology network” on Thursday, so the district decided to shut down the network and internet.

With no internet access, school officials say that teaching would be difficult and that’s why classes have been canceled.

However, staff is still required to report to their schools for a meeting at 9 a.m. for teachers to prepare to teach with no or reduced technology.

All sports and extracurricular activities are still on as well.

Classes are expected to resume on Tuesday, with no or reduced internet access.

“We regret the impact that not having students report on Monday will have on our families and we also regret needing to share this information during what for many of our families is a holiday weekend and at the tail end of spring break,” explained Supt. Pekel in a video posted to Twitter. “We ask for your patience and understanding as we work to resolve this situation as quickly as possible.”

Cyber attacks on schools is not anything new. In fact, schools across the state have been attacked for data collection in the last few weeks.

Minnesota IT Services data shows that it detected or received a report of 414 incidents in schools and universities in its statewide network in 2020.

By 2022 that number had dropped to 78.

MNIT says the decrease is due to investments in cyber security.

“Cyber attacks against schools is not necessarily new but we are seeing that threat continue to evolve and target more and more organizations,” said John Isreal, the interim chief information security officer with MNIT.

School districts have a vast amount of digital data, from student information, to medical records and hiring and employee history documents.

Supt. Pekel says that this incident is an ongoing investigation and will continue to release updates on the situation.