New York district postpones 1st day of school after cyber threat

ORANGE COUNTY, New York (WABC) -- An Orange County district has postponed the first day of school after a cyber security threat.

Monroe-Woodbury Central School District Superintendent Elsie Rodriguez sent a letter to parents saying the ransomware attack impacted district operations, and as a result, officials scheduled an unplanned Superintendent's Conference Day for Wednesday.

Hackers are believed to have infiltrated the district's computer system, which was shut down as an emergency precaution. Officials were able to access important records on backup servers and will print out the material on a paper for the first day of classes.

"By shutting everything down, we believe that we have protected our data," Rodriguez said Wednesday. "But again, we're going to have to go back to paper. Everything is going to be on paper."

Up to 20,000 pages will be printed, everything from student and teacher schedules to medical records.

At this point, it is unclear if hackers are holding the data hostage and if there will be a demand for money as has been the cases in other such incidents.

"They start to, slowly but surely, start to look at our data and make a decision as to whether the data has been compromised, whether it's good data or bad data, as we would say," Rodriguez said. "So once we go through that process, we will have a better understanding as to what happened."

The process is expected to take up to two weeks.

"It was shocking at first," said parent Stephanie Santiago, whose daughter is beginning first grade. "We prepped for this day, and no go. So now I have to do everything all over again."

Students will now attend their first day of school on Thursday, September 5.

"We recognize that for our families this unexpected schedule change may be difficult," the letter read. "The safety and security of our students is always our first priority, and we believe this extra time will allow us to better prepare for a smooth first day for our students and staff."

The district's computer network remains shut down, as its technical team works in conjunction with cyber security consultants to facilitate restoration of the servers.

"At this time, we are unsure how long the restoration process will take," the letter read. "We will not know the full impact to the district's systems until restoration is complete."

Parents with additional questions are urged to contact the main office of their child's school.

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