Internet service is back in Lynn Public Schools after weeks-long shutdown

LYNN — Internet service in Lynn Public Schools is back up after a widespread virus shut it down for nearly three weeks.

Teachers got the email from Superintendent Patrick Tutwiler Monday mid-morning, according to Joe Skahan, a teacher at Fecteau-Leary Junior/Senior High School. Parents received an all-call from the administration Monday night, said Maria Cameron, whose child is a Lynn Public Schools student.

“We are glad it’s back,” Skahan said. “The way the administration communicated with the schools and principals throughout all of this was great. They let us know step by step when they were going to be working on things. They truly kept us all in the loop.”

Cameron said, in the all-call to parents, Tutwiler said that things were restored. He also thanked LPS for their resources and support and thanked the community for their patience.

In an email to teachers obtained by the Item, Tutwiler stated that the administration’s cyber security consultant granted permission for computer use across the district but, although it was good news, the permission did come with some caution.

Teachers and LPS faculty were advised to not use personal devices on the school network and be careful about opening email attachments from unfamiliar senders. Going forward, daily functions on school computers are a go, but the system does not have the bandwidth to accommodate streaming videos just yet.

Tutwiler’s email also stated the administration added an additional layer of security and virus monitoring.

“Certainly, network access means leveraging many instructional and operational tools and resources,” Tutwiler stated in the email. “For the past two and a half weeks, we have been without. I admire the incredible displays of generosity, resourcefulness and teamwork around the district. Further, I deeply appreciate your patience and cooperation. We’re almost out of the woods.”

Tutwiler said he will update School Committee members Thursday night about how to approach the situation going forward, until the system’s bandwidth is back at 100 percent.

On March 20, Tutwiler was made aware of a virus in some of the high schools and elementary schools. Out of caution, the administration made the call to shut down the Internet across the LPS so the virus would not spread.

By March 28, MCAS for third graders and tenth graders were postponed and students had to take them on paper instead of online. The administration needed to move quickly, so they switched from CrowdStrike as a third-party cyber security vendor to Charles River Associates.

While the administration was using all of its resources to resolve the Internet issue, teachers across the city of Lynn were going old school and making it work.

“It was a rough three weeks but I think the administration handled it the best they could, despite the fact we don’t have multi-billionaire funds to fix the problem instantaneously,” Skahan said. “It sucks it took a while but I feel they did what they could with the resources they had.”

Tutwiler said Charles River Associates will continue to significantly monitor Internet activity as a precaution. He said he suspects the system should be back to full bandwidth early next week at the latest.

“I cannot thank the educators, students, and families enough for their patience and understanding,” Tutwiler said. “These sorts of things happen and, unfortunately, when they happen in a school district it slows the processes down, but the teaching and learning continued in ways that are impressive. This is a storm we will weather.”

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