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Phoenix-area colleges extend Spring Break after possible cyberattack

Community college students in the Phoenix area are getting an extra week of Spring Break after a suspected cyberattack crippled their schools’ computer networks.

A network outage has impacted the information technology systems of the Maricopa County Community College District, Interim Chancellor Steven Gonzales announced in a message to students Friday evening.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we will need to continue to keep our computing systems offline as our information technology experts and key partners continue to work to identify and resolve the issue,” Gonzales said.

Spring Break was originally scheduled to conclude on March 22, but without access to school email, student information and online education tools, officials decided to postpone the return of most classes until March 29. Because of the extra week off, students will have to stay a week later at the end of the spring semester, with the academic year ending on May 22.

“We understand this situation is frustrating and has impacted many of our students’ ability to complete assignments, review lectures and study for exams,” Gonzales said in his statement to students.

School officials say they disconnected network access and took systems offline on March 16 due to “suspicious activity,” but have not given any details on what prompted their concerns. The Maricopa Community Colleges system includes ten colleges in the Phoenix area.

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