TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Thousands of Baltimore County Public Schools students returned to their virtual classrooms on Wednesday after a ransomware cyber attack.
The cyber attack took down the county’s website on Thanksgiving week, and it forced the third-largest school district in Maryland to cancel classes for three days.
The district’s information technology department was able to find a work-around that allowed teachers to resume online instructions with all students, approximately 115,000 pupils.
“It was so exciting to see their faces,” Denise Madden, a special education teacher and parent of a student in the county, said. “We miss the kids, and our first thing in our mind was what about the kids? We’ve got to get back to the kids because this is learning time that they are missing.”
The ransomware attack also threatened remote devices.
Earlier in the week, teachers and staff had to line up to turn in computers that may have been infected. As for student Chromebooks, the head of IT believes they’re safe.
“We are highly confident the student devices were not compromised at home,” Jim Corns, the Executive Director of IT in the school system, said.
Denise Madden’s daughter Maci Madden, who’s also a teacher, and about 8,500 other educators in the county wanted to get students back into a rhythm after they missed three days of classes.
“At the end of the day, we are here to serve our students, or scholars to make sure that they are on the right track to success,” Maci Madden, who is in her first year as an educator in Baltimore County, said. “I was amazed that they were able to get us back so quickly.”
Investigators have not revealed who hacked the district’s website or how much ransom they demanded.
“You’re doing this and it’s the children that you are hurting, it’s not adults so to speak, it’s the children, and how dare you?” asked Denise Madden.
The teachers’ association told WJZ there were no major reported issues on Wednesday, even though there were some concerns about connectivity.