DES MOINES, Iowa — The end of Des Moines Public Schools’ cyber saga is in sight. The district announced late Tuesday night that students will come back Thursday after a cyber attack cancelled two days of classes.
In an e-mail parents and media, Des Moines Public Schools claimed its information technology department “made significant progress” in restoring its network Tuesday night. However, it also warned students to “expect an offline learning experience” upon their return to class.
More specifically, the e-mail mentioned that WiFi would be offline across the district on Thursday and that many teachers will not have access to the internet upon their return.
DMPS sent the update hours after interim superintendent Matt Smith commented on the cyber attack for the first time. Smith confirmed that class would not take place on Wednesday, although said at the time that some employees would return that day.
“We are operating as if it is a ransomware attack,” Smith said during Tuesday afternoon’s press conference. This is no easy feat to come back from. We are taking an abundance of caution as we’re working through this.”
Smith noted during how much the internet is intertwined with education, and why it was nearly impossible to have a functioning school day with no network access.
“It affected transportation routing systems, team services, and instructional materials that are dependent on network services,” Smith said. “Some of these have workarounds, some of these do not.”
Smith said the school district did have a plan in place for a cyber attack, considering other Iowa school district and Des Moines Area Community College have already experienced this type of incident.
“This is one of the reasons why we have cyber insurance, we allow the experts to guide us on the right path,” Smith said.
Smith did not elaborate on the specifics of the cyber attack, such as the type of device and data targeted, or if any data was compromised in the incident. However, Smith does expect DMPS staff members to get paid on time despite the cyber attack.