LIVINGSTON, NJ — An assessment conducted at all Livingston Public Schools after the servers shut down on Nov. 22 determined that the systems were “compromised by an outside entity and infected with Ransomware, which is designed to encrypt data,” according to Superintendent Dr. Matthew Block.

In order to ensure that the district is communicating the most current information with its staff, Livingston Public Schools is calling for a two-hour delayed opening for students on Monday, Nov. 25 so that the superintendent can meet with all staff members to “ensure clarity and consistency with [the district’s] plan moving forward.”

“We appreciate our families making arrangements so that we can hold this very important meeting,” Block said in a message to parents on Saturday.

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An evening meeting will be held in the Livingston High School auditorium at 7 p.m. on Monday in order to answer questions from parents. Block, other administrators and members of the technology department will be in attendance.

Block reiterated in his letter that the administration is confident that this outside entity is not associated with the Livingston community or the Livingston Public Schools district.

“Our data is not lost; rather it is inaccessible until we can resolve the situation,” he said. “The Livingston Public Schools were the victims of a crime, and this crime has been reported to the Livingston Police Department and other appropriate law enforcement agencies. Our understanding is that these criminals do not typically steal data, but rather render the systems unusable.”

Block also reported that other districts have recently been the victims of similar crimes and that attacks like this are becoming more and more common.

“We are told that these issues can take weeks to resolve,” he said. “Knowing this, we are working hard to make as much technology as possible available to our students and are taking steps to ensure our daily operating logistics are as smooth as possible…We have been devoting our time and resources to this as a top priority.”

According to Block, a team of technology professionals is currently working to get access to the district’s data back. 

The district provided the following updates on Saturday:

  • The district expects that Schoology will be available and usable for all students early next week.
     
  • Internet access will be available in all nine schools on Monday.
     
  • Student Emails have been working and will continue to work.
     
  • A direct phone line will be set up in each district school by Monday. The numbers to these direct phone lines will be sent to all parents/guardians as they are up and running.
     
  • Staff Emails will also be functional on Monday, but staff members will need to log into their Email in a different way and ask that the community be patient while they get accustomed to the new system. Parents and students will be able to reach out directly to teachers and counselors with specific questions as usual.
    “This will also allow us to communicate with one another, which has been a significant challenge,” said Block.
     
  • There is no impact on college transcripts at this time, as Naviance has not been affected.
     
  • The district believes students will be able to access all resources at home, but plans to remind staff that it is important to be flexible in the scheduling and grading of homework and assessments. Students will be asked to work directly with their teachers on assignment deadlines and extensions. Teachers will maintain paper records until the systems are back up and running.
     
  • All community members are asked to continue using the school Email address provided via Email on Friday to report any absences or other non-emergency issues. Click here for that information.
     
  • For the time being, the Genesis System and full Phone System will not be available.  
    “While we have been assured that our devices will not infect home systems, our student devices will still need to be cleaned at some point,” said Block. “We are working on a plan to do this in the next couple of weeks.

 

“These events are troubling for all of us,” said Block. “The last two days have been a whirlwind for district personnel, all of whom have done an excellent job maintaining normalcy for our students. I work with an amazing group of professionals, and I am thankful to be part of the LPS team.

“In the spirit of Thanksgiving, it is important to recognize that this did not compromise our community’s physical safety. One thing I have learned about the Livingston Community in my short time here, is that we are resilient and determined to overcome setbacks like this.”

Block added that information is coming to the administrative team hourly and that he expects to receive more information over the weekend.

Student Reporting Times on Monday were listed as follows:
Livingston High School will open at 9:50 a.m.
Elementary schools will open at 10:05 a.m.
Heritage Middle School will open at 10:20 a.m.
Mt. Pleasant Middle School will open at 10:35 a.m.
The A.M. Session of PRIDE is canceled.