Parents of Henrico County Public Schools students now have the opportunity to monitor their children’s online activity through our secure web filtering system.
Although the system was already present in Henrico schools, its new features allow parents to monitor what their child is searching for on school devices, even when the child is using that device outside of school. With the SECURLY Home app, parents can view their children’s website history in real time. Parents who sign up will also receive weekly email reports about their children’s online activity.
“We’ve always worked with parents. This is education — it’s a partnership,” said Lenny Pritchard, COO of HCPS. We want to be as transparent as possible. As our web filtering systems have improved, this is something we can share with our parents.”
Since the school sponsored devices are only for educational use, many websites such as Facebook and other social media sites, gambling and pornography sites have already been blocked. However, with the new software, parents can block other websites they don’t want their children to visit. Parents can also set restricted hours for their child to use the device.
He launched a pilot last year that brought the monitoring program to certain classes in five schools — an application that Pritchard described as “relatively seamless”. The program is now active in all HCPS schools.
Pritchard said he expects more parents to sign up for monitoring features in the next few weeks.
“It’s only about four weeks for families, so I’m not sure how strong the signups are now,” Pritchard said. “But the school system as a whole has been included in the family’s newsletter, and the number will continue to grow because it has only been around for a few weeks.”
The safe system allows educators to request that certain materials – such as sex education content or certain YouTube videos – be unblocked for educational purposes.
“YouTube can be used as an educational tool,” Pritchard said. “Usually vaping videos are blocked. We have a no smoking or vaping policy – vaping. But if a health class is teaching vaping, the teacher can request that this video be unblocked.”
The web filtering system also alerts the school to students who are looking for self-harm-related content. Certain keywords are flagged and the school can receive an alert based on a student’s search history. Approved Parents of Student Contacts received an email from SECURLY on September 13, and additional information can be found with the parent. website or in HCPS online services page.
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Anya Sczerzenie is Henrico Citizen’s education reporter and reporter for an America Corps member. Make a tax-deductible donation To support its work, the RFA will match the dollar for the dollar. Participation over here for her free weekly educational newsletter.