The Anne Arundel County Board of Education got a first look on Wednesday at proposals that would end the ban of some social media sites in schools and offer guidelines for appropriate conduct when using social media.
The proposed policies attempt to define the limitations and use of social media for both Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) employees and students on and off school grounds.
Board member Deborah Ritchie pointed out that the phrase "social media" doesn’t just encompass one or two websites.
“People are concerned when they hear 'social media' but this is about the use of social media," Ritchie said. "It is so much more than Facebook and Twitter."
In the draft regulation, AACPS defines a social media site as: "Any online or Internet based platform that allows interactive communication between persons or entities on social networks, blogs, websites, application software, Internet forums, and wikis."
Board members reiterated that social media sites would be allowed for use in schools on a case-by-case basis and for instructional purposes only.
Board member Stacy Korbelak raised several questions regarding the usage policy for students. She wanted to know if the policy would be applicable to all students, from pre-K to grade 12, when Facebook requires its users to be 13 or older.
“We are not opening Facebook and Twitter to all of our students,” said Laurie Pritchard, Director of Legal Services. “We are going to look very carefully at any sites we give access to our students. It will differ from high school to elementary.”
Another hot issue was that the proposal bans direct communication through social media between students and teachers, except "where the communications are approved, monitored and regulated by AACPS administration and parent(s)/guardians(s) written authorization."
Korbelak thought this could be a problem if a Facebook page is created to help spread general information about the drama department or other school-related groups. She added that some school-related Facebook pages for groups and clubs already exist.
She said the drama club, for example, uses the group page to post updates about rehearsals. In many cases, teachers must invite students to be a member of a group if the Facebook page isn't open to the public.
“Not allowing interaction with teachers or staff won’t work,” Korbelak said.
Ritchie reminded the public that the draft policies will be posted on the AACPS website for review during the next 30 days. Comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and questions should be directed to the office of the Board of Education at 410-222-5311.
- School Board To Discuss Social Media Policy at Meeting