Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS) was forced to close and halt instruction for two days this week after it suffered from a cyberattack, according to the Iowa school district.
On Monday, Jan. 9, the state’s largest school system – which serves 30,000 students and 5,000 staff members – said it preemptively took its internet and services offline in response to “unusual activity on the network.”
“Earlier this morning, DMPS was alerted to a cybersecurity incident on its technology network,” the district wrote Monday afternoon. “As a preemptive measure the school district’s internet and network services were taken offline as the matter is currently being investigated and assessed.”
The school district’s systems remained offline the following Tuesday and Wednesday, forcing DMPS to close for two straight days.
The district informed DMPS families and staff that their technology and external cybersecurity teams were working through the complicated process of clearing and restoring systems including internet, WiFi, and access to various networks.
“We are working as quickly as possible to remove all threats from our systems, make sure all servers and devices are safe and clean, and return full functionality so students and staff may return to the classroom,” DMPS wrote on Tuesday afternoon.
Students and teachers returned to the classroom on Thursday, Jan. 12, for an offline learning experience.
The district informed staff to prepare solutions for providing lessons with “diminished” network capacity. DMPS said internet access and other networked sources will be limited until further notice.
“As of today, we are still in the restoration process and making sure we are getting all of our systems back online,” DMPS interim Superintendent Matt Smith said in his latest Jan. 11 video update. “We are also in the investigation process.”
He continued, “Our diagnostic tools have run through all of our servers, and we now have forensic evidence that has been turned over to our cyber insurance company. They are analyzing the evidence that will give us information about how to move forward.”