Securly encourages efficiency, parent monitoring

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Recently, the school updated its internet filtering program from a program called Lightspeed to a new program called Securly in order to gain additional device speed outside of school.

Securly is a filtering program, and that means it looks through everything staff and students do on any school issued device. This includes things like writing emails or browsing the internet. The program detects keywords and phrases that the school may deem harmful or inappropriate to the school environment, and if these phrases are detected on a school device, an email is sent to the deans, Mr. Bellecomo explained.

“When you’re on a school device, like a Chromebook, there’s certain filters we have with certain words that set them off,” Bellecomo said, “Each hour, myself and Ms. Powell will get emails that say suicide, swear words, pornography, or things like that, which can’t get through the filter.”

According to District Educational Technology Director Mick Torres, the major difference between Securly and Lightspeed is that Lightspeed is a hardware system and Securly is a cloud-based filtering system. A hardware system filters through each piece of data being sent in and out of school devices. Cloud-based systems can send and receive information faster than hardware systems because they use the cloud, which means they can store a lot more information than hardware systems can at one time.

With hardware systems, data eventually clumps and transfers very slowly when devices are outside of District 128 buildings. This means, when using a hardware system for filtering, students’ Chromebooks would perform slower when used outside of the high school.

  Torres explained how Securly is a cloud-based system and it transfers data a lot faster than a hardware system, even when outside of the high school.

“Our primary reason was performance,” Torres said, “It was unacceptable for us to assign homework and for you to be able to go home with a Chromebook and have a performance degradation.”

Securly also has the option for parents to monitor what their children are searching. The aspect of parents monitoring students has caused some to become uncomfortable, as some believe that this is invasive.

“It’s a matter of privacy,” Bella Pineda (10) said, “In the first place, it’s weird that the school is monitoring it, but I get why. Then the parents have access to it and I get why, but it’s unnecessary.”

Other than the issue of privacy, there are benefits to the switch to Securly. According to Mr. Bellecomo and Ms. Powell, deans and parents can make sure that students aren’t searching up inappropriate content or any content that could pose as harmful to a student.

“Any school that has any type of device needs to be able to monitor what kids are looking at. Really, parents should too, because I do with my kids,” Bellecomo said.

According to Torres, Securly has come at no additional cost to the school, as it is priced about the same as the old hardware system. Torres stated that Securly costs $15,750 for 3,500 licenses per year, which is a cost of about $4.50 per student or staff member, based on the number of school issued devices.

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