It’s that time of year…the holidays are over; parents are ready for the kids to go back to school and BAM! In the first 7 days LCPS closes 3 days and delays for 2 hours on another. On Facebook the debate rages and I begin to wonder, does Loudoun County Public Schools ever make the right call?
post photo courtesy of Dave Scarangella
When the forecast calls for bad weather—snow/ice—LCPS monitors Doppler radar and AccuWeather. In addition, transportation staff drives around the county to assess the roads and other staff spot checks various schools to see the conditions of parking lots and sidewalks. That information, plus available forecasts, go into the official call, which needs to be made around 4am, to allow for getting the word out to staff, news outlets, and then parents and students.
When some of us, especially in Eastern Loudoun, get up, survey the roads, and finding them reasonably clear, head to the Internet, sending it into overdrive. Many fail to take into account the Western and more rural areas of Loudoun County, which have many roads that are narrower, less maintained, and are made of gravel or dirt. These areas are often much more treacherous than our paved, maintained roads of Ashburn.
I work from home—and so does my husband—and it’s an interruption when the kids are home. But I’m not responsible for around 70,000 students. Closing, delaying or closing early is a pain and I’m sure one not made lightly. Schedules, activities and more have to be shifted around and/or rescheduled. So let’s give the folks at LCPS the benefit of the doubt, that they are making informed decisions and aren’t just messing with us.
Although…on Tuesday there was a brief news item on the official LCPS site that schools would be delayed 2 hours on Wednesday. My poor friend (who shall remain nameless) happened to catch it and posted on Facebook. She obviously was not the only one, which let to the hilarious situation of the LCPS Public Information Officer, Wadye Byard, having to send out emails, texts and autocalls assuring frustrated parents all across Loudoun County that school would be on and on time Wednesday.
And now…the big news.
There was a security breach at LCPS that wasn’t discovered until someone was Googling a phone number, which led him to a web page with personal details about LCPS students. A third party, Risk Solution International, left the pages public after testing, leading to the breach. Leesburg Today is following the story.
At this time what we know is that the site deals with emergency management plans for LCPS, is normally password-protected, and contains almost 1300 links with identifying information on students. It did NOT contain social security numbers, photos, or credit card/drivers license numbers.
The good news (really) is that the site was not hacked; the site was left unsecure unintentionally. This is still a serious mistake and obviously Risk Solution International needs to review and possibly change their internal protocols. That information needs to made public to the parents of LCPS students, so we feel assured that everything that can be done to protect our kids information is being done.
This incident is just one more reminder of the fragile nature of the Internet. As more and more information, especially sensitive information, is shifted to massive servers, like we have dotted around Ashburn, we need to be vigilant, demand excellence from those who are storing our information, and have a plan for when breaches occur.
It is also a teachable moment to our kids about what they – and we – put out there about ourselves and how is can be accessed, intentionally or not.