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Beyond the Cave

Blocking and Website Security Update at Summerville

This is what shows up when many students search up words or sites that have been blocked by the administration.

Summerville students and teachers have noticed a change in the amount of websites that are blocked on the school Wi-Fi and devices. 

Many more categories of websites and videos were blocked in recent weeks, including videos being blocked for such categories as “How to and Style,” “Activism,” and “Science and Technology.”

Sometimes websites being used for class would be blocked as well, and this could lead to disruptions as teachers learned from students that a website they were trying to use was blocked and then sent a request for it to be unblocked. 

“With YouTube yes, it has been frustrating. I understand why they did it, but it makes it difficult for students to do what they need to do,” Mr. Suggs said. 

Senior Kyra Hopp, shared what she noticed was blocked on her Chromebook.

“I was looking at paint samples on the Lowe’s website and it just got restricted as I was looking at paint samples and I just don’t know what that’s about,” Hopp stated. 

Beyond the Cave sought to answer some questions about this blocking increase: primarily, who is doing the blocking and why was there an increase in the number of blocked websites? 

In an interview with Kris Persson, he explained that the motives were multifactorial and many people were involved in this change. 

“The admin team and teachers got together and shared concerns about too much non-classwork activity happening on Chromebooks in classrooms and teachers were spending a lot of time and energy having to correct that in their classrooms instead of teaching. So the admin [administration] team requested that we make them stricter, so we contacted the vendor,” explained Persson. 

Summerville has been using multiple blocking programs in order to comply with state and federal requirements, and as such there are many different companies actively involved in blocking websites. 

Additionally, there are multiple times and places where Chromebooks may have restrictions placed upon them. 

“We actually have a multitiered system. We have a filter that applies to our students and the activities that they do on their Chromebooks as users, then we have a filter that applies to your device when you’re at home because it is a school-owned device. And then we have a firewall here on campus,” shared Persson. 

Previously, a lot less websites were blocked. As Persson explained, this could cause issues in class. When asked what is blocked now, Persson stated that, for the most part, blocking websites was often by request. 

Teachers and students also shared their opinions on having websites blocked. Hopp explained that it could be frustrating and tedious to try and avoid blocked websites, even while doing schoolwork. 

“I just think it is kind of stupid because at this point it isn’t a tool, it’s just more work to use the Chromebook for school, than to just go on my own personal email and do my work myself,” stated Hopp. 

Marcus Rodriguez, junior, similarly shared how accessing websites could be difficult. 

“[The blocking] kind of affects some studying when I can’t look at sites that have the information that I need. I do see the struggle in it but I can see why they block sites on Chromebooks,” stated Rodriguez. 

Teachers have also had frustrations with websites becoming blocked against their knowledge. While requesting for a website to be unblocked is relatively simple, it takes time out of class when a link a teacher wanted to use suddenly fails to work and they need to request for it to be unblocked. 

Mrs. Peterson had assigned her students work to her students while she was gone and came back to realize they had done nothing since it was all blocked. 

“[I noticed] everything travel, was blocked. I called the IT guy and he unlocked everything, but it still doesn’t unblock everything,” Mrs. Peterson stated. 

Going forward, this system of blocking appears likely to continue. Students and teachers will just need to be aware of what has become restricted on school devices. 

Despite the frustration it may bring, it is important to also recognize the benefits of blocking websites in an effort to keep students on task and focused during class.

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Peyton Skinner, Photo Editor
Leila Stuart, Copy Editor
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