We’re Here to Help with the Changing K12 Environment
by Doreen Fiola
COVID-19 Response: NIC Partners is an “Essential Service”
There’s so much going on everywhere in the world right now with school closures, city lockdowns and shelter in place orders. There’s been a lot of discussion on social media and in the broader press about how to assuage anxiety and feelings of helplessness. If you’re in IT for a K12 school or higher education institution, you’ve probably been working longer hours with less help than ever before.
We want you to know that we’re still here to help – NIC Partners is still able to “perform any work necessary to the operations and maintenance of ‘essential infrastructure,’ including… internet and telecommunications systems….” We’ve got a fully-staffed Managed Services department that is ready to take on some of the jobs your overworked (or non-existent) IT teams usually handle.
VPN Security for K12 Now Even More Important
With such a huge increase in remote workers – whether they’re staff, teachers or students, your VPN security is now more important than ever. Your VPN servers are paramount to your ongoing operations so their security should be a focus for your IT teams. The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (DHS CISA) has recently encouraged organizations to “adopt a heightened state of cybersecurity” and multi-factor authentication (MFA) for remote access to help provide protection against malicious cyber actors and phishing attacks. Your VPN servers should be kept updated with the latest security updates and patches.
We’re here to help ensure you are not subject to any outstanding vulnerabilities. Every K12 customer should be using MFA to verify that your remote users are, in fact, who they say they are. Now is the perfect time to start using Cisco Duo (if you’re not already) but it’s important that you continue using it in the long-term to prioritize your VPN security.
Hosting Large Scale Events
There’s obviously been an increased demand for hosting virtual events – and often for large audiences. Cisco has a couple of offers that are relevant here. Please reach out to your account manager for help taking advantage of these:
- Cisco & Vbrick are providing three free live events up to 500 participants; OR one free live event for up to 5,000 participants
- Cisco is offering Cisco Webex Events 3000 free to customers (has to be ordered through a partner so let us know if you’d like to take advantage of this).
We’ve been helping many of our customers with the following:
- Webex Events for large K12 district-wide announcements
- Getting started with the 90-day free Cisco Webex trial
- Set up the free Duo trial from Cisco for dual factor authentication
- Secure the free Cisco AnyConnect licenses so that employees can use VPN when they are working from home
- Expand VPN services and licenses to accommodate the dramatic increase in remote users
- Configure CUCM access for remote users
- Collaboration strategies to provide continuity of curriculum to all students with an emphasis on AP classes
- Firewall configuration troubleshooting
- Configure Jabber Clients for soft phone
- Procurement of additional telephones
- WiFi troubleshooting for remote users
Summary of K12 Resources
We know that it’s an overwhelming time for those who work in education. We want you to know that we’re prepared to help you in any way we can. In addition to our recent post: Tools to Help You Roll Out a Remote Working Environment, we’ve put together a list of resources that will help you make the most of remote work technologies and keep you up-to-date with what’s happening:
- California Department of Education: Distance Learning Guidance
- Free 90-day License for Cisco Webex – to help you roll out your distance learning. Contact your account manager or email@example.com today to get started
- Cisco Free Security Offerings – to protect your increased remote workers. Again, talk to your account manager or firstname.lastname@example.org today to get started
- Remote work rapid adoption communications pack – with editable assets and templates to help you scale quickly
- Online classes with best practices to help you and your users get the most out of Cisco Webex
- Tips for managing remote teams
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Interim Guidance for Administrators of US K-12 Schools
- California IT In Education – COVID-19 Resources
As your trusted technology partner, we want you to know that we are here to help you navigate these unprecedented times. One of our core values is determination… and we’re determined to support you however we can. We understand that not everyone has the technical resources to support the demand that you are now experiencing. We want you to feel confident in our ongoing ability to serve your needs.