How our 22,000-student district is using a web content filtering platform to keep students safe and on task when learning remotely

A tech leader’s tips for making remote learning safe


How our 22,000-student district is using a web content filtering platform to keep students safe and on task when learning remotely

When COVID forced school districts nationwide to quickly pivot to remote learning, we not only had to configure mobile devices for students to take home, but also implement safeguards to shield them from inappropriate content while outside school walls. We took both responsibilities very seriously, knowing that families were relying on us to maintain both a continuity of learning and safety for their children.

With 45 school sites and about 22,000 students to manage, we knew this would be a major undertaking. To tackle the challenges, we first upgraded our system to accommodate the 20,000-plus Chromebooks that our students would need to learn from home. Then, we acquired additional licenses for ContentKeeper, a school web filter we’d been using since 2017. Using this combined approach, we’ve been able to maintain control of content within social media websites; allow students access to educational content; and block or unblock sites as needed.

Getting everyone online and on board

Prior to the global pandemic, we were at a 2:1 student-to-computer ratio thanks to our labs, but more like 4:1 for true wireless access. We were in the early stages of going 1:1 when COVID hit, having already secured a bond to fund a full refresh. Unfortunately, we quickly learned that handing out computers to families with multiple children was a problem, and that we didn’t have the equipment to do a true 1:1. Instead, we used our bond money to buy thousands of Chromebooks.

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