Holiday spam e-mails are to blame for slowing message delivery to faculty and staff in schools across Kentucky, including those in Franklin County.
Tim Smith, chief information officer for Frankfort Independent Schools said he received e-mail from the Kentucky Department of Education alerting school districts to the unusually large volume of spam clogging inboxes.
In the e-mail sent to all school districts by KDE, districts are warned that e-mails sent from parents and businesses to Kentuckys K-12 organizations might arrive more slowly than normal.
Its been an issue for the past couple of weeks, Smith said. (Ive received) numerous e-mails from the state saying there are problems with inbound e-mails.
According to KDEs message, a spam filter looks at each e-mail and attempts to prevent junk or inappropriate e-mail from being forwarded to school districts. Without the filter entire e-mail systems at school districts would be forced to shut down.
Smith said hes had several complaints about the delay the spam e-mails are creating within the states filtering system.
These days they rely on electronic services to communicate, Smith said.
He said once KDE alerted him to the problem he passed messages on to principals within the district telling them to notify faculty, staff and parents of the situation via newsletters.
Smith noted that e-mail to addresses within the district (those ending with Frankfort.kyschools.us) is running fairly smoothly.
Things are very reliable within our district, he said.
Many messages are averaging several hours before making it to their destination.
The KDE e-mail recommends parents and businesses consider alternate methods of communication for important or time-sensitive messages.
Smith said he is recommending the same course of action.
I would recommend multiple communication methods especially this month, Smith said.
He cited phone calls as one way to communicate while e-mail is delayed.
Try not to send non-essential e-mails, Smith suggested.
He said spammers looking to make money are to blame for the e-mail problems.
It really causes problems when people use e-mail inappropriately, he said.
Smith said there have been issues with the e-mail system before, but the recent problems are the most troublesome.
This is the worst its been, he said.
Wayne Dominick, Franklin County Public Schools communications coordinator, said the county schools also had e-mail issues all week.
He said he hasnt personally received complaints about e-mail delivery but all those using e-mail for the school are aware of the problems.
We told the staff that its slow, dont think people are ignoring you, Dominick said.
Dominick recommends sending e-mails, but not expecting immediate replies. He said if the issue is urgent to call the school.
He echoed Smith when it comes to previous issues with e-mail and the current situation.
Weve had intermittent problems, but never when its been down this long, Dominick said.
KDEs message says e-mails between people in the same organization, between organizations and e-mail sent from schools to parents and businesses should be delivered faster than those from outside sources.
The message says an estimated 10 million junk e-mails are sent each day to Kentuckys K-12 schools during the holiday season.
KDE estimates e-mail will be back to normal by the beginning of next year, once holiday spam ceases.
Lisa Gross, KDE communications director, said the size of the department makes it an easy target for spammers.
Were like any large organization, were susceptible to that (massive amounts of junk e-mail), Gross said.
She said the design of KDEs e-mail addresses makes it easier for those sending spam to target large amounts of people.
Its overwhelming, she said. It just causes delays.
Gross said the e-mail system typically doesnt have major problems and that the filters are working to get valid messages to their destinations.
Its actually very simple; too much junk e-mail, she said.