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Parents express concerns as Huntsville schools plan return

The district has been dealing with a cyberattack that left children without instruction this week.

Posted: Dec 3, 2020 11:01 PM

Teachers returned to campuses Thursday, days after a cyberattack forced Huntsville City Schools to cancel classes this week.

Parents said Monday’s news came as a bit of a shock as they had to rush to pick their children up from area schools. Now as they prepare to send them back on Monday, some worry about just how serious the cyber attack was and how much sensitive information may be in the wrong hands.

"I know some parents are like completely unaware and they're like, ‘What did they get?’ but then I also have the fear of I know how much you can get and I’m like, ‘They have my child’s birth certificate, they have my IDs, our socials,’" Amanda Short, a Huntsville City Schools parent, said Thursday.

Like many other district parents, Short is concerned. She said in addition to wondering what kind of personal information might have been taken, she now has to try to balance working from home with keeping her Chapman Middle School student busy.

"I have phone calls and I have meetings and things I have to get done and I have this child who has nothing to do,” she explained.

Short said she wished the district had alerted parents earlier to the possibility that their children could be out of school all week -- something she says would have given her more time to find activities for her son.

"You struggle with are you going to be the parent that lets him play video games all day because it's so much easier and it keeps him occupied or do you try and scrounge throughout the day to find productive things for them to do, which has been our struggle."

While Short said she is excited to send her son back to school, she expressed concerns over how safe it will be to have him log on to these devices again, still unsure of what has been compromised.

During a Huntsville City Council meeting Thursday night, there was no mention of the cyberattack.

Councilman Bill Kling said this is because the school is a separate legislative authority, independent of the city government.

"The school board, they call the shots, they decided what they want to do, their course of action,” Kling said. “If they want us to help in any way, we're certainly glad to do so, but we respect the school board for the job that they’re doing and they've been working very, very hard on this."

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