So after a week of turmoil, what happens now for Miami-Dade County Public Schools?
On Thursday, police arrested a 16-year-old student who they say confessed to launching eight of the cyber attacks which have plagued the district all week, but that’s only about a third of the total number of attacks directed at disrupting the district’s internet connectivity.
Meanwhile, the district’s teachers have been operating under a directive that grades K-5 should continue using the K12, My School Online distance learning platform while grades 6-12 should use Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
That move seems to have eased the pressure on the system.
For example, fourth-grader Samson Karp had no trouble accessing and using My School Online Friday, so his father, school board member Dr. Martin Karp, sees obvious improvement in the platform. This comes after a debilitating software glitch was fixed on Monday and after the cyber attacks were discovered to be clogging everyone’s access.
“For me, it’s not about blaming somebody or pointing fingers or saying it’s this or that, it’s how do we fix it, how do we fix it now so that the rest of the year can be one of tremendous success and we can all look back and say, OK, this is what happened but we were able to pivot and provide a solid education for our kids,” Karp said.
NBC 6 contacted three elementary school teachers Friday. One of them said she was able to use My School Online successfully, the other two switched to Zoom because of glitches and an inability to reach all of their students.
Karp said he heard those complaints on Friday as well, even after the improvements in the system.
“I’m getting feedback from the K5 folks, whether it’s a teacher of kindergarteners for 29 years or a teacher in the elementary grades, the upper grades expressing concerns with that platform, they want some choice, they want autonomy,” Karp said.
Meanwhile, the district’s IT team is busy trying to fend off cyber attacks. There was another one Thursday night and one Friday morning, which they deflected.
Here’s the thing: these cyber attacks are not a new phenomenon. As NBC 6 reported five years ago, it happens constantly.
“It’s not a matter of if you’re gonna be attacked, it’s when you’re gonna be attacked and what you can try to do to minimize the impacts of the attack,” said Ed McAuliff, the district’s chief security officer, in that 2015 report.
The Miami-Dade Schools Police, along with the FBI, Secret Service and the FDLE, are investigating the cyber attacks.
Meanwhile, the school district is evaluating My School Online. They have sent questionnaires to teachers to assess its viability and they will decide at the end of next week whether to keep using it or to abandon it altogether.