It was a warm mid-September morning and Jeff Pelzel was preparing for another day of school. Although the coronavirus pandemic raged across Southern California, Pelzel, superintendent of the Newhall School District in the Santa Clarita Valley, had successfully transitioned nearly 6,000 students and teachers to virtual classrooms.
As he walked to the office, Pelzel checked his phone and noticed something strange. His email app, which was usually brimming with fresh messages, was empty. He tapped the browser and navigated to the school's webmail. Nothing. His palms began to sweat as powered on his PC. The warning that flashed across his screen was terrifying. In bold letters the message bluntly stated that his entire school district was locked up and offline. Pelzel shot a text message to IT, but he didn't need to wait for a response to know what was happening.