Ransomware attack closes Haverhill schools | #ransonware | #ransonwareattack

The entire Haverhill Public School system is closed Thursday due to a ransomware attack that hobbled the schools’ computer network.

The system is transitioning from a mix of remote and hybrid classes toward full-day, in-school classes this week. On Thursday, elementary students from second through fourth grade were due to return to the system’s eight elementary schools, according to the district’s social media postings. Younger students had started earlier this week.

“We know this is heartbreaking for many students who were looking forward to a return to something near normal,’’ Superintendent Margaret Marotta wrote. “While we are hopeful that school will resume on Friday, we are currently unable to confirm that school will be in session. We will keep you posted.”

Marotta wrote that the system’s computer network was attacked Thursday and that IT staffers for the school system recognized it, and moved quickly to launch a counterattack.

“The school system is fortunate in that our IT department recognized very early [Thursday] morning that something was awry with the system,” she wrote. “While it was initially unclear what was going on, the team initiated safety protocols and shut down the network before large scale corruption of the system occurred.”

The computer network is used for remote learning, including platforms Schoolbrains and Google Meet and the schools’ phone system.

“We do not feel confident that we will be able to offer the level of information and communication needed to welcome hundreds of students back to new teachers and classrooms,” Marotta wrote. “For our older students, remote learning would be impossible as our learning platform will remain down.”

She said the schools are “working with our IT consultants, Haverhill Police, and Homeland Security to safely return our systems to operational capacity as soon as possible.”

The canceled day will be counted as a snow day, according to Marotta.

John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.

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