School officials for Baltimore County have lifted a restriction on the use of its Microsoft Office platform after discovering and fixing a problem that allowed documents to be shared by anyone searching the system.
(TNS) — Baltimore County school officials said they are lifting the final restrictions on use of a Microsoft Office system used by students.
Monday’s decision comes less than a week after the county school system discovered that documents users had shared on the Microsoft software could be searched by anyone in the system. There are 132,000 students and staff who use the system.
School officials made the discovery Wednesday evening and restricted access to students at about 10 a.m. Thursday to make sure that no documents could be searched. They instructed staff to follow procedures supplied by Microsoft to make sure the documents could not be shared improperly.
The restrictions meant students couldn’t continue to do work they had left on that platform Thursday morning, said James Corn, the executive director of the Department of Information Technology at the county school system. By Friday morning, students again had access to the system from their laptops at school.
But on social media, parents expressed concerns that their children couldn’t get their schoolwork done at a crucial time of the year when grades will soon be due.
Corn said his department was taking the next step Monday afternoon to restore student access at home to what is known as One Drive.
Baltimore County teachers union president Abby Beytin said teachers had not complained to her about the problem.
“I have not heard from the teachers about it at all. I have shared with them what is going on with the One Drive, and what they would have to do, Beytin said. “But other than checking to see if they have any items to move from one folder to another, it doesn’t seem to be a big problem at this point.”
And the county’s PTA president, Jayne Lee, said she was aware of the parent concerns expressed on social media, but had not heard from parents.
Corn said parents have been calling asking, “When will my student be able to access One Drive again?” but haven’t expressed concern about what records might have been searchable.
The county’s student information system, which keeps data about each student, was not open to being searched. And students and teachers could still access Schoology, a platform where teachers and students can share grades and assignments.
Student Social Security numbers are not kept by the school system, said Brandon Oland, a spokesman for the system.
School officials have been looking into what files might have been searched, but don’t have conclusions yet.
©2019 The Baltimore Sun. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.