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OASD Cybersecurity Update Impacting K-8 Students
The Oshkosh Area School District's commitment to student safety and student data privacy and security is on-going. With this understanding, please see below for an important email security update impacting K-8 students.
The District has disabled outside email for students in grades K-8.
This change was made on September 9, 2022 based on the District's ongoing review of best practices and amid recent cybersecurity attacks targeting school districts.
Parents/guardians are no longer able to email K-8 students at their district email address and K-8 students cannot email non-OASD email addresses.
Parents/guardians who need to get information to their children during the school day should contact their school office. Additionally, parents/guardians are also able to email their child's school secretary and ask that information be shared/forwarded to their child if needed.
This information was initially shared with K-8 families on September 13, see OASD Technology Update 09.13.22: K-8 Email Access. Additional information explaining this decision is available below.
THE SITUATION: The OASD’s Technology Team was made aware of several districts in Wisconsin who were the victims of cyberattacks as school started (Elmbrook School District Article). These attacks resulted in student, family, and staff data being compromised as well as ransomware in some instances. The OASD is deeply committed to protecting student, family, and staff information and has put in several protective measures in recent years. What we realized is that our main area of risk centered on our youngest learners in grades K-8 and a data incident could easily come from those accounts. We worked with our teachers to learn what educational impact there would be from this change and realized that having outside email is not used for education purposes in those grade levels.
WHAT WE MISSED: What we missed were those instances where parents were using this email access to communicate with their children. In previous situations, and with the proliferation of students using cellphones, we observed that most communicated with their children via text. We assumed that this would continue and in those instances where that was not possible, an email or call to the building secretary would provide that line of communication as it had in past years.
RESOLUTION GOING FORWARD: Cybersecurity is always a balance between protection and convenience. We will continue to do everything in our power to protect students and our student, family, and staff data while at the same time trying to make things as easy and convenient as possible. We will continue monitoring the situation as it is unfolding in other districts to learn more about how the attacks occurred and what we can do to ensure it does not happen here. Unfortunately, it is not feasible to continually monitor and whitelist the emails of our 17,000 parents and guardians. We will, however, monitor the situation with our clerical staff to see what type of message volume they are relaying and at what grade levels. If there is any way to restore access without putting student, family, or staff information at risk, we will gladly do so. Until that time, please email or call your building secretary if you wish to have something relayed to your child.
CONTACT: If you have any questions related to this update or the District's commitment to data privacy and security, please contact Deputy Superintendent Dave Gundlach (firstname.lastname@example.org or 920.424.0016).