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Arlington School Board Weighs Student Device Policy Changes

The Arlington School Board could soon overhaul the school division’s policy governing how students use electronic devices in classrooms.

Arlington Public Schools officials presented a new version of technology “acceptable use” guidelines for the board to consider on April 19. The policy would create a new set of standards around how students use their own devices in schools, as well as equipment provided by APS.

Though APS has long relied on guidelines governing how students and teachers can use electronic devices and the internet, school staff are in the midst of a wholesale revision of those policies to keep up with advances in technology.

The proposed acceptable use policy for students stipulates that the use of devices is a “privilege, not a right,” and lays out the division’s process for handling incidents where students use electronic devices in inappropriate ways.

“In essence, if you can’t do something off of technology, you can’t do it in technology,” Tara Nattrass, Arlington’s assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, told the board.

The proposed policy also sets limits on how APS can collect student data through electronic devices. Specifically, the document bars APS from collecting “unnecessary personal information by means of its website” and directs the division to only take in data “only to the extent necessary to serve its constituents and the community.”

However, the policy does still allow school officials to archive, read and monitor any content generated on APS-owned devices or networks.

Nattrass stressed to the board that this acceptable use policy does not address issues like screen time limits for younger students or the use of devices at home. However, she noted that officials do plan to release more information on those issues later this summer, and some on the board heartily encouraged Nattrass to keep the community apprised of that process.

“I need to know when the rest of this is going to get done and where this is going to be,” said school board member Nancy Van Doren.

The board is set to vote on the draft policy on May 3.

File photo

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When: Dec 12, 2022, 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: 2022 General Membership Meeting — NAACP Arlington Branch
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