Tyngsborough schools investigate cyberattack – The Boston Globe

A cyberattack at Tynsgborough’s middle and high schools cut Internet service to students this week, and officials have hired an outside company to identify the source of the attack, the school department said.

The outages impacted the two schools located on the district’s Norris Road campus. The school department’s info tech team has determined the outage was not caused internally or through the district’s Internet provider, Superintendent Michael Flanagan said in a statement.

Instead, officials believe the outage was caused by an outside device brought into school buildings either unwittingly or intentionally, the statement said.

Northeast Technology, an IT solutions company in Danvers, has been hired to identify the source of the attack. The town’s police department is also investigating.

The town’s elementary school was not impacted by the attack.

The school district has been operating in a hybrid mode this year, offering a mix of in-person and remote learning for students.

Flanagan said he is “frustrated” and “disappointed” by the attack’s disruption on learning. “We have all pulled together and worked so hard to create a positive learning environment in spite of the challenges and disruptions of the COVID pandemic,” he said.

“While we are confident that we will soon rectify this situation, I am upset for the difficulty and disruption this has caused our students, families, and staff,” Flanagan said.

Students and teachers at both schools worked remotely on Friday and are off Monday due to a school holiday, the statement said. Officials hope in school learning can resume on Tuesday.


Adam Sennott can be reached at adam.sennott@globe.com.

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Three schools to benefit from U.S. DoDEA grant to expand STEM programming | Articles

Three Fairfax County public schools will benefit from a five-year $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) to expand programming in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Fort Belvoir Primary School, Fort Belvoir Elementary School, and Whitman Middle School will receive funding to support Project OWL (Outdoors While Learning).

Project OWL was developed to support military-connected students who face unique instructional and social-emotional challenges. The program includes:

•    Outdoor learning spaces such as native plants and vegetable gardens.

•    Integrated classroom spaces designed to engage students in STEM using an interdisciplinary approach.

•    Environmental field trips such as those sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. 

•    Enhanced recess activities that will encourage students to be inclusive while having fun.

•    Afterschool and summer STEM enrichment programs.

•    Family wellness activities with help and support from the community. 

The Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education of the National Science and Technology Council states that it is critical to national security to have students spark interest in critical and fast-growing careers in STEM.

DoDEA plans, directs, coordinates, and manages the education programs for eligible dependents of U.S. military personnel and civilian personnel of the Department of Defense. It has congressional authority to provide resources to public schools to support the continuity of education for military-connected students through a competitive grant program. 

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Seattle Public Schools still doesn’t know for sure how many students have sufficient internet for school

Since COVID-19 first shut down in-person learning, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) has distributed devices and internet for thousands of students. But for months, district officials haven’t be able to answer these questions with certainty:

How many kids actually need the technology? And does it work well enough to meet remote learning demands?

They’re questions central to conducting school online and closing digital access and learning gaps, especially for Seattle, whose schools appear to be staying remote for the foreseeable future.

But after school buildings closed last spring, Seattle and other districts didn’t take complete stock of how many students needed devices and internet, instead relying on student poverty rates and drawing estimates from surveys. As a result, data on technology access for students during the pandemic has been spotty.

About 4,000 of SPS’ over 50,000 students haven’t been engaging regularly with online learning this fall, half of whom the district suspects are having issues with devices or connectivity, according to district spokesperson Tim Robinson.

In some cases, the lack of firm information has made estimating the appropriate response to the problem harder and more time-consuming, especially when it comes to internet connectivity. And the main solution offered by school districts — discounted or free plans offered by internet service providers — sometimes results in internet access too slow to handle multiple kids learning online at the same time, according to industry guidelines.

The most comprehensive statewide effort to get clarity on student tech needs — voluntary state surveys of school districts in May and August — only requested estimates. Based on the answers it received, the state education department projects that between 81% to 89% of Washington state students had adequate technology and connectivity for remote learning.

“Some districts did a good job of collecting data and provided some reasonable

Rural Schools Struggle With Distance Learning : NPR

In numerous recent interviews, educators have told NPR they’re concerned the rural-urban divide will only worsen if kids can’t get online to learn.

Tony Avelar/AP


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Tony Avelar/AP

In numerous recent interviews, educators have told NPR they’re concerned the rural-urban divide will only worsen if kids can’t get online to learn.

Tony Avelar/AP

The past seven months have been a big strain on families like Mandi Boren’s.

The Borens are cattle ranchers on a remote slice of land near Idaho’s Owyhee Mountains. They have four kids — ranging from a first grader to a sophomore in high school. When the lockdown first hit, Boren first thought it might be a good thing. Home schooling temporarily could be more efficient, plus there’d be more family time and help with the chores.

“I thought, I’ll be able to get my kids’ schooling done in a few hours and then they’ll be to work with dad, and no problem it will be great,” Boren says, chuckling. “Well, it didn’t turn out so great.”

That’s because all four kids — in addition to Boren, who telecommutes — were suddenly plugged into the family’s satellite Internet, which is spotty on a good day. You can forget trying to use Zoom or Google Classroom.

“I soon found out that our Internet speeds were so slow, we had to spread it out all week long actually,” Boren says. “We were doing schooling on Saturdays and Sundays as well.”

Her kids started back to school in person, at least for now.

Mandi and Steve Boren own a ranch in rural Idaho, where Internet service is spotty making distanced learning nearly impossible some days.

Kirk Siegler/NPR


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Mandi and Steve Boren own a ranch in rural Idaho, where Internet service is

LaunchCode expands programming into high schools

The workforce development nonprofit has established the LCHS Pilot Program, which is designed to create and teach a new computer science curriculum

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis-based nonprofit LaunchCode, which provides technology training and places aspiring computer programmers in apprenticeships and jobs, has launched a new pilot program to expand its footprint to local high schools.

The workforce development nonprofit has established the LCHS Pilot Program, which is designed to create and teach a new computer science curriculum to high school juniors and seniors in Missouri.

LaunchCode founded the program with more than $200,000 in funding from the Bayer Fund and additional backing from AT&T. The pilot involves working with six teachers, each from different St. Louis-area high schools, who received training from LaunchCode over the summer and began teaching the nonprofit’s curriculum at the start of the 2020-’21 school year. High schools involved in the pilot program include Vashon, Gateway STEM, Confluence Academy, KIPP St. Louis, Affton and Rosati-Kain.

LaunchCode established its LCHS Pilot Program in response House Bill 3, an education bill passed in 2018 by the Missouri General Assembly. The legislation set up a statewide science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) career awareness program and established new curriculum requirements for computer science education.

“This legislation is an important step in the direction of preparing a workforce with skills that better align with the needs of our increasingly-digital workforce,” said Jeff Mazur, LaunchCode’s executive director. “The issue, however, is that there is a lack of accessible and affordable ways for schools to equip teachers with industry-relevant computer science curriculum. That’s where LaunchCode is stepping in.”

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