Digital safety takes a partnership between schools and parents
CASTLE ROCK – Safety is the number one priority in the Douglas County School District. While traditionally our efforts have centered on physical and psychological safety, District Chief Technology Officer Gautam Sethi says technology and online safety have become a crucial part of the picture.
“We are clearly recognizing that cyber safety and data privacy are becoming just as important as the physical safety of our students,” Sethi explained.
Today, many students are connected to technology throughout their entire day.
“Education does not stop at the classroom door. It goes home with the students. They are engaged online. They take their homework. They are doing projects and activities when they are at home or out in the field. That is the whole power of being online. You can work from anytime, anywhere,” Sethi said.
While these tools have provided students with amazing opportunities for collaboration and instant access to libraries with information on just about any topic, the online world also poses dangers.
“With that power comes the risks of being online,” Sethi said.
If not adequately protected, students’ privacy and safety can be compromised by unscrupulous companies and predators.
At the District, efforts have been made to secure student data.
“From a central office perspective, we take all the measures in ensuring that student data is locked up, secure, no bad people can come into our infrastructure and steal our data. We put the firewalls necessary, the hardware, the infrastructure, but beyond that the student data also flows through so many different channels,” Sethi said.
The Information Technology Services department plans to offer additional training for employees, to ensure that everyone working with students knows how to keep kids safe through thoughtful management of their data.
“We want to ensure the basic training of how to handle student data is provided to all of our staff members who touch student information,” Sethi said. “We want them to ask themselves, ‘is this the right thing to do with my student’s data or not.’”
Finally, with our students constantly connected, day and night, Sethi says it takes everyone working together, including the District and parents, to keep our students safe.
“We want to make sure this is a partnership,” Sethi said. “Our parents, our families are all engaged and they understand all the risks that come with being online and sharing your information in ways and means that may or may not be safe.”