RPS schools adapt teaching methods amid cybersecurity incident

Published: Apr. 12, 2023 at 8:50 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – It’s been nearly a week since Rochester Public Schools discovered a cyber security threat on its computer network. The district cancelled school activities Monday, and although students returned back to the classroom Tuesday, they aren’t able to use the internet yet.

When teachers and staff members at Lincoln Elementary heard they’d be without internet for a bit, many weren’t too worried, having taught through shutdowns and outbreaks during the pandemic.

“What we’ve learned from our past couple of years in education is that our educators in this district and in our building are super resilient, adaptive and very creative,” Lincoln Choice Elementary School principal Jim Sonju said.

“We roll with the punches. We get to use our creative outlet. We all like a challenge and so we can say, “Yeah, I got this,” Lincoln Choice Elementary School kindergarten teacher Undrea Draney-Woolley said.

Students, teachers and other staff members have not been able to use computers, smart boards, Ipads and other devices since the beginning of the week.

“If I don’t have access to the internet, we’re going to find another way to engage students,” Sonju said.

School staff is using this as an opportunity to go back to basics.

“Basically, we’re looking at it as being untethered to the technology. We’re a highly technological school. So, we’re saying what can we do and what doors does that open,” Sonju said.

“We’re doing a lot more pencil to paper, and we’re staying off our Ipads,” Draney-Woolley said.

Her kindergarten class is going completely unplugged, having class in the school’s outdoor classroom Wednesday.

“It’s been used pretty much nonstop during this situation,” Sonju said.

Teachers say students have adjusted smoothly as well.

“We’re still learning, working on our language arts and our math and our science. And they haven’t missed a beat,” Draney-Woolley said.

“We’re just having fun with it. We’re rolling with it and making the most of it,” Sonju said.

RPS says office staff has been able to access the internet on their devices using hot spots. No word yet on when RPS staff will be able to use the internet again.