Student management

Cumberland Valley School District Officials Defend Use of Student Monitoring Software | Education

The Cumberland Valley School District’s recently launched student monitoring software for learning devices assigned to district students in grades 5-11 sparked public anger at a district school board meeting on Tuesday. evening.

About half a dozen residents objected to the district’s use this school year of Blocksi, a Chromebook extension that lets teachers monitor what students are doing on district-issued Chromebooks and Chrome student accounts. resumes in the classroom. The district first distributed iPads, Chromebooks or laptops to students three years ago as part of its 1:1 technology initiative.

On Tuesday, parents said they object to the district’s use of Blocksi, describing it as “viral spyware” that replicates in families’ electronic devices when students’ Chromebooks are brought home . Some parents said the software compromised their personal and work devices and threatened legal action against the district if the program was not removed.

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“This could lead to a major data breach. The spyware has infected everyone,” said Jason Snyder of Hampden Township, who told district officials on Tuesday “to go back over there to the (district office) response room and talk about it. , then come back here and rectify that. ”

Superintendent David Christopher said Tuesday that Blocksi was launched by the district this year in response to multiple concerns from teachers about students playing games and other unauthorized activities on district devices in the classroom.

Blocksi is a Google for Education and Microsoft partner that was selected by the district after being tested with a comparative software program for students in grades 5-9 in the 2021-2022 school year, it said. he declares.

“Blocksi is software that offers a variety of solutions to help with classroom management, internet filtering and study security,” Christopher told The Sentinel this week. “Blocksi complies with all privacy laws and is not illegal spyware or malware. In fact, Blocksi helps CVSD comply with the Child Internet Protection Act.

“As an individual district, Cumberland Valley uses a singular component of Blocksi as part of our device management program,” Christopher said. “Blocksi is installed via a Google extension on the Chrome browser and Chromebook devices of a fifth through fifth grader. 11. Twelfth-grade students, who have Windows laptops, continue to be monitored by the district web filter, as required by law.”

Mark Blanchard, the district’s assistant superintendent for secondary education, said Tuesday that Blocksi restricts students’ access to the internet and prohibits their access to microphones and cameras on devices in the district.

“(Blocksi) is just used here as a teacher dashboard,” he said.

“As part of the Blocksi (district) solution, neither the teacher nor the district have access to turn on the microphone or camera on a student’s device, and Blocksi’s classroom management solution n only functional on the device or in the Chrome student account between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. each day,” Christopher said. “Additionally, CVSD does not have GPS hardware on our devices, and Blocksi does not geolocate our students, which was shared as a concern by some parents.”

More information is available on the District’s 1:1 webpage at regarding District Application Restrictions, Personal Content, Remote Management and Control, and Content Filtering , did he declare.

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The school board on Tuesday authorized a two-year contract between District Student Services and Laurel Life for a “dedicated school services mental health professional responding to mental health and behavioral health services” identified by school teams and by reference in individual therapy and therapeutic group sessions”.

The contracted professional is also responsible for providing “information on subjects and training within the therapist’s experience and knowledge, as arranged by the (district’s) Professional and Student Services Department.” Laurel Life is a behavioral services, mental health and education company based in central Pennsylvania.

“The last few years have been difficult for everyone, including students,” Christopher told The Sentinel this week. “The main reason we hire a mental health professional is that when students have mental health issues, we haven’t been able to connect them to care due to a lack of providers. In the region. Even when we used a third-party concierge service to help families find a caregiver, it sometimes took many calls and the wait time was long.

“By employing a contracted therapist through Laurel Life, we believe we can impact that wait time for many students,” he said.

The district expects its costs for a contracted mental health professional to be compensated through a Pennsylvania Law 55 grant for school mental health, as well as safety and security. Last month, the state Commission on Crime and Delinquency announced that grants totaling $190 million would be awarded to 784 eligible Pennsylvania school districts, area vocational and technical schools, intermediate units, charter schools, regional charter schools and cyber charter schools for the 2022-22 school year.