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Dracut Schools’ Computers To Go Dark To Switch To New System

Jan 23, 2019 01:23AM ● By Lisa Redmond

Dracut School Superintendent of Schools Steven Stone.

DRACUT - For two days this week, the Dracut School Districts information management system will essentially go dark.

It's not ransomware or some hacker. The Dracut Schools Information Technology Team will be switching the school district's data to the Aspen information management system from the current iPass system.

IT team member David Hill told the School Committee on Monday that after months of planning, the Aspen system will "go live'' on Jan. 28.

A computer "blackout" is scheduled for Jan. 23-25, during which all the school system’s data - student health records to attendance records - will be transferred from one system to the other, Hill explained.

But grades close on Jan. 25, during the black out. Hill explained that teachers can still input grades using the old iPass system and parents and students can access report cards on the iPass portal, Hill said.

While school officials suggested doing the switch during the summer, Aspen company officials recommended doing it while school is in session to see how it operates under real circumstances.

During the switch in systems, School Superintendent Steven Stone said "There will be hiccups…This is an unbelievably complicated process. So we apologize and beg people's patience."

Committee member Sabrina Heisey questioned the security on the Aspen system. Stone replied that state and industry standards of this type of system requires encryption software.

Hill explained that the move to Aspen is to make the district’s information management system “very, very user friendly’’ for the staff, students and parents who need to access it. “This is almost like apples and oranges,’’ he said, comparing the two systems.

To lessen the learning curve, Hill explained that each school has one or more staff members who have already been trained on the new system and will be helping others learn it. Stone noted the district will post a “cheat sheet’’ on its website to help parents.

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