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Georgetown schools to get technology upgrades as soon as next school year

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After the Georgetown County government hack in January, as well as the Colonial Pipeline hack in May, Michael Powell with Georgetown schools said technology upgrades will ensure teachers' and students' information on district severs is safe. Photo courtesy of GCSD

GEORGETOWN — From information security updates to prevent hacks to audio enhancements to make teaching easier, Georgetown schools IT director Michael Powell said various technological updates could be coming to the schools as early as August 2021.

Georgetown County government experienced a security hack back in January, and rebuilt its system itself rather than paying a ransom. After this hack, as well as the Colonial Pipeline hack in May, Powell said these upgrades will ensure teachers' and students' information on district severs is safe.

Some of the upgrades, paid from bond money, include end-to-end email encryption, multifactor authentication for teachers or students trying to access their information when not at school, a password reset option for students, an information security plan to establish policies and procedures in the event of a hack and professional development in information security.

Powell said he hopes to have a draft of the information security plan to show the board in the next month.

Audio updates including replacing school intercom systems to allow for two-way communication between classrooms and adding four speakers in each classroom to evenly distribute a teacher's voice, especially while wearing a mask, are also included in the IT projects.

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"Let's say if I was teaching elementary, and I get the intercom two way communication, I can get a wireless pen mic and I can project my voice from the front of the classroom to the back of the classroom," Powell said. "It just makes it easier for the teachers, and over on the risk management piece of security, we can set up a capability where if he needs to reach out an extend communication and contact the classroom, he can."

While elementary schools will get the first updates, middle and high schools will soon follow suit, Powell said.

"It's going to add value towards instruction in the classroom," Powell said.

Follow Demi Lawrence on Twitter @DemiNLawrence.

Demi Lawrence reports on Georgetown County for The Post and Courier. She graduated from Ball State University in 2020, and previously was an intern at The Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Indiana and Indianapolis Monthly.

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