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Carlisle Schools Back Online After Security Threat

A suburban public school district in Pennsylvania has restored Internet connectivity after disconnecting its network last week due to an unspecified security threat, the details of which are still not public.

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(TNS) — Carlisle Area School District has reconnected to its Internet system and operations appear to be running smoothly, Superintendent Colleen Friend said Tuesday morning.

A security threat prevented the use of the Internet Friday by district faculty, staff and students.

The federal government first notified the district of a possible incident Thursday afternoon. Out of an abundance of caution, the district shutdown its system and notified its employees around 2:30 p.m., Friend said. An email advisory was sent to district families on Friday.

"We don't have any specifics," Friend said during a phone interview Friday. "We were just notified that there was a possibility that something occurred. We've had no notification that there has been harm or damage."

At the time, Friend said she had no knowledge of the origin of the incident or who may be responsible. "The people who are working with us are going to take care of that," she said.

"The tech department worked very diligently all weekend long," Friend said during a follow-up interview Tuesday. "I can't give you specifics on what they were doing. We had several meetings to figure out our status."

School administrators met Monday afternoon with the team of security specialists who are assisting the district in its response.

"While our investigation into this is ongoing, they informed us that there is no immediate threat to our system," Friend said in her email to families Monday. "We can reconnect to the Internet."

A check with Friend Tuesday around 11:15 a.m. confirmed the district had reconnected and that operations were running smoothly.

"It feels like a normal day in Carlisle," Friend said. "It's smooth. I came in, put my computer on my desk, and we got to work. I talked to the director of digital learning. We're getting back to normal. I'm sure there are tech tickets [written requests for services], but that's just part of the nature of public education."

Due to the ongoing investigation, Friend was unable to comment on any details involving the incident. "It's not something that's going to start and stop in a matter of a couple of days," she said about the incident.

Friend said the specialists working with the district have not provided her with any timeline on when the investigation could conclude. Friend has not received any reports of Internet or computer incidents or issues from district families, local school districts or the Capital Area Intermediate Unit.

"No one has reached out to me at all," Friend said. "It feels very good to be back in school connected and to resume everything that our teachers are able to provide to our students."

The shutdown of the system Friday meant that students could not use any Internet-based applications on their laptop computers or iPads.

"We have asked staff to provide grace to students who were unable to access online resources or complete online assignments since being offline this past Thursday," Friend wrote in her Monday email to families. "Our technology department members will be in our schools throughout the day to assist staff and students who may need assistance resetting passwords or with any other technical issues."

Friend commended faculty members on their response to the shutdown.

"They were all notified [Thursday]," she said. "They were all prepared to come in, to pivot and adjust. Carlisle has the greatest teachers. It wasn't convenient for them, but they are Herd strong and made it happen."

School nurses and building administrators downloaded all the necessary contacts for students, so that information was handy in case of an emergency.

The food service department responded to the shutdown with a workaround for student account information.

The shutdown Friday did require the district to limit access to school buildings by parents and visitors. Parents were advised that if they needed to pick up their student, they should contact the office and work through a dismissal plan.

©2023 The Sentinel (Carlisle, Pa.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.