On Saturday, January 27, 2017, a cyberattack on the Williamson County School District, where more than 3,000 students were working in schools, prompted a lockdown and forced students to return to their classrooms.
A year later, the Williamsons district has reopened and students are back in their classrooms, though they are still not permitted to enter or leave the building.
“We want to assure you that the Williamsburg County School district will continue to work with all the families affected by the cyberattack and that we are working diligently to ensure the safety of our students and employees,” Superintendent Michael Schaffer said in a statement.
“I know it is a challenging time for many of you and I appreciate your patience during this time.”
Schaffer added that a school resource officer will be in the schools to support staff during the lockdown.
Williamson County School Board member Bill Stump said the district’s computer system was hacked and all district staff were affected.
“It was a very bad situation and we took it very seriously,” he said.
The Williamsburg Board of Education voted unanimously to open the district to the public on Monday. “
This is going to be a long and tough week for all of us, but we are trying to do our best to be there for the students and we will be doing our best as the school year begins.”
The Williamsburg Board of Education voted unanimously to open the district to the public on Monday.
“The district is currently closed to the general public,” Stump told The Associated Press on Monday, January 28.
“But we will reopen on Monday to the community.”
School District spokesperson Lauren Davis said the school district is working to reopen as soon as possible.
“As the district works through the aftermath of this tragic event, we are grateful for the outpouring of support from our community and our staff,” Davis said in an emailed statement.
The Williamsonton County Board of Schools said that its IT systems were hacked and that some staff members have been placed on paid administrative leave.
The school district has been working with other districts in the region to update their systems.
Schaffer told the AP that his district is not currently working with any outside companies on updating its systems.
The cyberattack also prompted the Williamssons Board of Elections to ask the Williamston County Commission to hold a public hearing on how the district will handle a possible repeat of the incident.
The board voted on Friday to hold the hearing, which was scheduled to take place on Monday but was pushed back to Sunday due to the lockdown and the impact of the cyber attack.
“A school district that was already under attack is going through another cyber attack that is going, I guess, beyond the capacity of its schools,” Schaffer, who also serves on the board, said.
Schaff said he and other school leaders are still working with the Williamscons Department of Emergency Management and the county to determine what kind of response the county will provide.
“Right now, we just need to see how this impacts the other schools in the area,” Schaff told The AP.
“There are no students at risk.”
A year ago, a similar incident in the county led to a teacher at a Williamsson County school being fired.
On Thursday, the Williamsson County Board voted to hire a cybersecurity expert to oversee the county’s school district and the Williamspons schools.
The move comes after Williamsss County officials warned of a potential repeat of a cyber assault on January 20, which forced the closure of nearly 1,200 classrooms and sent thousands of students to the hospital.
The lockdown in the Williamtown area prompted a call for help from the public after the incident, with people offering to help with the lockdown efforts.
“Please help us by calling or texting the school to ask them for a backup plan,” the district tweeted.