HILLSBOROUGH, NJ – A cyber attack shut down the entire township school system on Monday with local and federal investigators working to pinpoint the source and what, if any damage has been caused to the computer network which is utilized by thousands of students, teachers and support staff daily.
Classes were conducted on a virtual basis Tuesday, with staff and students using their remote devices.
Students, parents and staff were advised that the same procedure will be followed Wednesday. All classes will be virtual.
Sign Up for Hillsborough Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.
You have successfully signed up for the TAPinto Hillsborough Newsletter.
Schools Supt. Dr. Lisa Antunes said yesterday that it will be a slow process putting the pieces back together.
“Our technology team continues to work methodically with cybersecurity experts and law enforcement to establish a timetable for the completion of the restoration of the operation of our systems. This is an overwhelmingly complicated task with many moving parts,” she wrote in Tuesday’s update.
Antunes posted three messages on the school’s Messenger page Monday and Tuesday alerting students, parents and staff to the situation, along with a Frequently Asked Questions list:
Monday, April 12:
“Dear HTPS Community,
We apologize for the late email and early phone call to come.
Several hours ago, our technology department was alerted to a possible cyber attack. Law enforcement, including the FBI, recommended shutting our systems down so that we may be able to ascertain the depth of the attack.
Due to the nature of the cyber attack and potential instability of the network, posting to virtual is not possible at this time. Therefore, all schools will be closed Monday, May 12, 2021, and the Board of Education meeting will be canceled at this time and may be rescheduled.
We apologize for the inconveniences this unfortunate event will most assuredly cause, however, in an effort to minimize damage to the organization we believe this is the best course of action for tomorrow.
Be on the lookout for more information as it becomes available.We are working with our technical department and local and federal law enforcement agencies to isolate the issue as soon as possible,”
Monday, April 12:
The second message from Antunes, posted later in the day updated the situation:
“At this time we will pivot to our all-virtual school day tomorrow, Tuesday April 13. All before- and after-school activities will be cncled. Moving forward, school Messenger updates will be sent each day until the sitution is resolvecd advising the status for the next school day.”
Tuesday, April 13:
“Good afternoon HTPS community!
Thank you for your continued patience and understanding as we continue to navigate our current situation.
While we always do our best to provide information as soon as it is reasonable and possible to do so, when situations such as this occurs, it is simply not always possible. Our technology team continues to work methodically with cybersecurity experts and law enforcement to establish a timetable for the completion of the restoration of the operation of our systems. This is an overwhelmingly complicated task with many moving parts.
At this time, we will continue with an all-virtual school day tomorrow, Wednesday, April 14. All before and after school activities will be canceled. Moving forward, School Messenger updates will be sent each day until the situation is resolved advising the status for the next school day.
I would also like to share that food distribution pick up for all-virtual students is as scheduled for tomorrow, April 14, from 1-2 p.m. If your children are in-person learners and you are in need of food, please email Kathy Major-DeGregorio at email@example.com by 8 p.m. this evening. Please plan on picking up your food tomorrow, April 14, from 1-2 p.m. at Hillsborough High School.
Additionally, be on the lookout for updated information you may receive from your building principal.
Please see below for updated FAQs we would like to share. Information continues to evolve and will be updated as quickly as possible.
Have a good evening,
Lisa M. Antunes, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools”
FAQs – Related to Cyber Attack – Parents / Students
Updated April 13, 2021
Why did we move to all-virtual learning? At this time, the cyber attack is an ongoing investigation. We are very limited in sharing the many factors that affect information we can provide to staff and families. A timetable for the completion of the restoration of the operations of our systems cannot be provided at this time.
When will the district return to in-person learning? School Messenger updates will be sent each day until the situation is resolved advising the status for the next day. Due to the ongoing investigation of the cyber attack, we are limited in sharing certain information until our assessment is complete and we understand the full scope of the incident.
Has any of my personal information been compromised? The integrity of student and school information is our top priority in addressing this situation. At this point, we are investigating what, if any, personal information has been compromised. However, we will share updated information as it is received.
Can students utilize their Chromebooks? Yes. At this time, Chromebooks are unaffected and students may access their Google docs, participate in Google meets, etc.
If schools are closed for additional days, will there be busing for out-of-district (including vo-tech) students? As is typical when we use emergency days, there is no busing on these days. Busing information for out-of-district students on all virtual days will be provided by the Transportation Department.
How will the district calendar be affected? Today, Monday, April 12, we utilized our second emergency day. We have one more emergency day built into the 2020-2021 calendar. If unused, the district will be closed on Friday, May 28. This will be confirmed at a later date.
Why are after school events and activities canceled? At this time, the cyber attack investigation is an ongoing, active investigation. We are very limited in sharing the many factors that affect information we can provide to staff and families. In some cases we are simply not permitted to share sensitive information. A timetable for the completion of the restoration of the operations of our systems cannot be provided at this time.
When will after-school activities resume? We are looking to resume after-school activities as soon as possible, however, we will assess this daily. At this time we are unable to provide a timetable for the completion of the restoration of the operation of our systems. We will provide an appropriate update on resuming after-school activities when information becomes available.
Will this incident affect the return of students who opted for in-person learning at HHS and HMS on Monday, April 19? As of this moment, we do not expect any changes to the start of in-person learning at HHS and HMS on Monday, April 19.
How will food distribution work? Information will be forthcoming on food distribution for this week. If your children are in person and you are in need of food, please email Kathy Major-DeGregorio at firstname.lastname@example.org by 8:00 p.m. this evening. Please plan on picking up your food tomorrow, April 14, from 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. at Hillsborough High School. The food distribution schedule for all-virtual students has not changed.
Will students be able to get schedules for the start of the 4th marking period? We are working on various options to get schedules to students by Monday, April 19. This may or may not be able to occur, but we will keep you posted.
How will I get updated information? You will receive logistical information from your building principal as soon as quickly as possible.
If Genesis is down, how will parents be contacted in the event of an emergency? Our building administrators have backup copies of contact information for all students.
Are district phones working? Once we have staff in buildings, phone calls will be answered. Right now voicemail is not working. Emails to staff members may be sent.
Will before and after care be provided? At this time, and as typical, when schools are closed, before and after care will not be provided.
Will the April 12 Board of Education meeting be rescheduled or will the next meeting be on April 26 as scheduled? At this time, we are unsure if the meeting will be rescheduled.
How long will it take to restore our system? We are working to restore operation of our systems as quickly as possible. At this time, we are not able to provide a timetable for the completion of those efforts. We thank you for your patience.