Thousands of Buffalo Public Schools students were slated to return to their buildings Monday morning, some for the first time in their high schools. However, that didn't happen, with a ransomware attack shutting down district technology.
"This has got to be extremely disappointing," said CAO We The Parents head Sam Radford. "It's about the parents who haven't been able to work, haven't been able to conduct their lives because their children were at home and they had to make arrangements for that. Now that's going to be set back, another day or however long. We're not sure."
Families across the city's public school system had their lives turned upside down, yet again, late Sunday when Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash said in a letter that there would be no instruction Monday, in schools or in living rooms.
The district was hit last week by a ransomware attack. Usually that means whoever did it will turn computer systems back on for a payment, often in untraceable bitcoin, although there are no guarantees.
Cash was vague about what specifically is going on, like whether personal data of students and staff were stolen. That's unclear. While a criminal investigation of the computer attack will likely continue for weeks by various federal agencies, Cash's letter gave no indication when computers can be patched enough to re-open instruction.
Buffalo School Board member Larry Scott said it's a mess.
"Interruption and chaos and this is just adding to that, at a bad time, especially when we were going to begin our Phase Two for 3rd, 4th, 9th and 11th and other targeted groups of students," Scott said. "Yup, it is late on a Sunday and it is an inconvenience to parents."
Around 5,000 students were to return to the physical classroom today, with many first-year high school students among them, kids who have never spent one day in their high schools. Staff were to report and all athletic events scheduled for Monday were to be held as usual.
"This is the worst time that this could be happening because we know that parents and families have been enduring disruption, inconvenience, challenges with making sure that their children are online learning and just dealing with the pandemic, itself," Scott said. "So this is just another added stress for our families, for our parents."