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NEWHALL, Calif. (KABC) -- A computer ransomware attack has locked up systems in the Newhall School District, leading to the cancellation of remote classes for at least Tuesday.

The district issued a message to students telling them to not log on to the district's distance learning systems or use any district device.

The attack came ironically on National Online Learning Day.

For students and parents, it's just one more glitch in a year that has been full of unwelcome surprises.

"They've gotten used to this weird unpredictable 2020 where they can't go to school," said Joel Crawford, who has two children attending Stevenson Ranch Elementary.

"I think they're adaptable, they've kinda rolled with it, they're just waiting for things to get back on track."

Clifford Neuman, director of USC's Center for Computer Systems Security, said such ransomware attacks are quite common. Other school districts have also fallen victim, he said.

"Usually what you have is a well-orchestrated ransomware campaign that is attempting to attack a large number of systems," Neuman said. "They're hoping to net some high-profile systems where the administrators are going to be willing to, for example, pay a ransom to get access to their systems back."

The school district is telling parents they've contacted their legal services and insurance provider as well as a forensics firm to resolve the issue.

There's currently no estimate for when online learning will resume.

The district posted a statement that read in part:

"Newhall School District recently learned of an incident involving a ransomware attack on our systems. After we learned of this incident, we took immediate action to protect the District's system and data. We are working to restore operations and enhance the security of our platforms. A professional third-party forensics firm has been engage to investigate the ransomware incident and determine the scope of the incident. As our investigation continues, we will continue to enhance our security measures to help protect the student and employee data stored on our systems."

We want our students, their parents, and the Newhall community to know that we place a high value on maintaining the integrity and security of the data we hold in our systems. We also want everyone to know that we are working diligently to restore operations. Both restoring operations and our investigations are ongoing."

In the meantime, the district has posted on its website a list of basic activities for parents to help guide students through this even more unusual day.

"This is a great opportunity for kids to learn that things are out of your control," Crawford said. "And all you can do is be positive and try and do your best in these situations."

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Neighbors Living Near Morey Middle School Homeless Camp Question Student Safety When Classes Resume

DENVER (CBS4) – Neighbors in Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood say the problems they first started noticing at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic when homeless camps set up around Morey Middle School have continued months later, even after the city cleared the tents located directly on the sidewalks of the school. They say the people living outside their houses and apartments have just moved blocks away but the threat to their safety and the illegal activity remains steps from their doors.

(credit: CBS)

“It’s a very tough problem,” said Timothy Wayne, a property owner in the Denver neighborhood. “They get stuff stolen, people break into their cars, they see the prostitution, they see the drugs.”

Back in June when neighbors first contacted CBS4 about the issue, there were tents located on all four sides of the school campus. Two months later, the city had a homeless cleanup that pushed those living on the street by Morey to leave the area. But neighbors say they moved, in some cases, just one block away. The school has been fenced off but the sidewalks remain clear.

“It is a problem when the kids return,” Wayne told CBS4 on Thursday. “They’re just going to keep moving them around and that’s not going to work.”

Morey is a part of Denver Public Schools and the district remains in remote learning. But students could return to some form of in-person teaching as early as next month, residents worry about what the students will face when they walk to and from school. The city says the response it has in place continues to try and serve those in the tents and it does not have plans to make any changes as of now when school returns on campus.

“They’re concerned about safety, some of them come home at 2 o’clock in the morning,” Wayne said of his tenants who live near the school. “It’s very scary to them, they get catcalled, they get harassed.”

(credit: CBS)

City staff told CBS4 that homeless outreach workers, public health inspectors, mental health teams, and trash crews visit those encampments almost daily. They try to connect as many people to resources including shelters, motel rooms, as well as their families. But Wayne and others believe this response is not working and a new approach is needed.

“They’re not going to go away and they’re not going to leave the central core,” Wayne said. “The place we’re going to put them is land which is open that’s not being utilized and that’s these little city parks.”

He says there are about half a dozen parks the city could use around the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Wayne has also suggested the Denver Housing Authority or developers who have access to unused space, where construction has halted because of COVID-19, as a temporary site for the homeless. He says it would need to be a partnership that uses that property and provides city resources including access to water and electricity. The city has discussed a sanctioned encampment but has yet to release any updates on the process to create that option.

(credit: CBS)

“I think that’s as good as you’re going to do,” Wayne said. “You need to address the whole problem and we all need to address the whole problem.”

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