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Wood County Schools shuts down computers due to virus

PARKERSBURG — A computer virus led to Wood County Schools taking its system offline Thursday as officials investigate how far it may have spread.

Superintendent Will Hosaflook said school administrators noticed issues with their systems Wednesday night and by Thursday morning other computers in Wood County Schools were affected or showing suspicious lines of code. The virus corrupts files on the infected machines.

“This virus, it spreads,” Hosaflook said. “The more people that use the machines, the more it keeps spreading. And my understanding of the nature of this virus, it could have been on the computers for 2-3 weeks before it activated.”

Hosaflook said all systems were shut down as a precaution and infected machines will have their hard drives replaced. The district is working with state and federal authorities to determine where the virus may have originated.

The West Virginia Department of Education cut its online link to Wood County Schools Thursday as a precaution against the spread of the virus.

“It’s totally paralyzed the system,” Hosaflook said. “I would guess about half the computers at central office are infected.”

Hosaflook said few Apple systems have been found to be infected, so it’s believed to mostly target Windows systems. Hosaflook said there is no indication of issues with any of the district’s iPads. The district recently expanded its one-to-one iPad program for district students, with most schools having tablets for all of their students.

Hosaflook said while the virus has caused problems, it has not and will not close schools.

“Education takes a teacher and it takes a student,” he said. The teacher will always outweigh the technology. Some teachers said (Thursday) was a great day at the schools. It was a tech-free day.”

In a press release Thursday, Hosaflook said “a leading, third-party computer security company is also onboard to assist in restoring access to District servers, to investigate the ransomware attack, and to enhance further the security of our platforms. Both the restoration process and investigation are ongoing.

“We want our students, their parents, and the Wood County 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 access to our files, so we can continue the academic school year with minimal disruption.”

Michael Erb can be reached at merb@newsandsentinel.com.

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