In the Northampton Public Schools, School internet and technology play an important role in the students’ educational experience. Students and teachers are provided with Google accounts and chromebooks to be used in and out of school. While access to the internet provides many opportunities, it is important for students to be mindful of the district privacy policies and Acceptable Use Policy to understand the appropriate use of their school-issued devices and accounts. The purpose of the following information is to provide an explanation of the technology used, the procedures in place to protect student data and to provide awareness to students and caregivers around how student accounts are monitored.
Students use chromebooks and desktops while at school. Chromebooks require a student login and are filtered under Go Guardian filters while in class. Internet traffic also passes through the district content filtering software. Desktop computers may or may not require students to log in with their school accounts but they are still filtered with a Sophos firewall in the buildings.
Students should recognize their account is monitored. They should:
- Only use school devices and accounts for appropriate activity.
- Be aware of which device/account they are using, and try to keep school-related activity on school devices/accounts, and non-school-related activity on personal devices/accounts.
- Be aware of the policies and rules surrounding student accounts and devices.
- Be mindful of their digital footprint and how their internet activity can follow them throughout lives.
Go Guardian is a classroom management and filtering program that works only on chromebooks when students log in with their school-supplied email address. Teachers may use this to push out websites, share screens with the class, chat with students while working to provide support on their work, and to block websites or redirect student focus. Teachers have the ability to view all student machines in their class while in their class session. Classroom management sessions can be run from 7AM-4PM Monday through Friday.
Students have a specific filter that is applied to chromebooks. This prevents access to content that is blocked or flagged due to the search terms used by the student. Examples include sites with explicit content, sites encouraging aggressive behavior, and malicious sites. When these sites are blocked, the student will see a “lock” symbol and receive notification that a site was blocked and inviting them to contact the administrator to request the website to be on the safe list.
Student history is recorded in Go Guardian. Student history is not reviewed unless requested by an administrator on suspicion of a violation of district policy. Only the Chief Information Officer, Digital Literacy & Computer Science Coordinator, and Network Analyst can review student history and any record of a search is documented on a spreadsheet. At the end of each academic year, Go Guardian history is permanently deleted.
Google Admin controls all aspects of the G-Suite. Within this area, history and site blocks can be managed. Certain restrictions can be applied from the admin panel such as which extensions are permitted to be loaded, the landing page and blocks or safe lists to websites and apps. As is the case with Go Guardian, any searches conducted on a student G-Suite history must be requested by an administrator with suspicion of a violation of district policy and is recorded on a spreadsheet. Additionally, student history is erased at the end of the academic year.
The desktop computers, or any computer that is plugged into an ethernet cable in the school, are filtered by Sophos. Similar to Go Guardian, certain search terms are restricted. When students attempt to access sites that fall under these categories, they will be presented with an alert explaining it has been blocked.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can access student data, and when?
Student data can be accessed with Go Guardian/Google Admin. Within GoGuardian, a record of sites visited can be viewed as well as Smart Alerts. Smart Alerts are an aspect of Go Guardian that takes a screenshot of a student’s display if the content is deemed inappropriate. This data can only be seen by 3 IT employees: the Chief Information Officer, Digital Literacy and Computer Science Coordinator and the Network Analyst. They only access student data if the principal or associate principal requests as part of an investigation of suspected violations of school policy.
If student data is seen, will the student be informed? Who else will see that data?
Students will be informed if their data is seen as part of an investigation. The only people who will see the data, in addition to the student’s family and the IT staff who retrieve it, are the principal and associate principal. If the data raises suspicion that the child may be a victim of abuse or neglect, the data may also be shared with DCF as part of a 51-A filing.
Is access of GoGuardian/Google admin/history data logged?
Yes. The log of data is maintained by the IT department for 3 years, or until administrative use for the data ends.
Can law enforcement access student data?
Law enforcement cannot access student data without a subpoena.
What does GoGuardian do with my data?
What is considered appropriate use of technology when setting blocked websites and Smart Alert triggers?
Some filters and triggers are preset by federal and state law, such as those blocking pornography. Some are set according to school committee policy IJNBD (the Acceptable Use Policy), which establishes a “legitimate educational use” standard for technology use in school.
Are students who borrow Chromebooks to bring home under a different level of monitoring?
There is a standard level of monitoring browsing history any time a school account is used, regardless of the computer. If a student uses a personal chromebook or school-issued chromebook, Go Guardian can capture Smart Alerts. In either case, the same policy of monitoring is enforced–only when an administrator feels a student has violated district policy will the IT staff investigate a student’s use of the account.