Weekly Letter (Jan 12, 2015)

 Dear Parents and Guardians:

 Star of the Sea School prides itself on providing a safe learning environment for its students. We know how difficult it is to keep up with how our children use new and ever-changing technologies. It is no surprise that the Internet is now the favored forum for socializing, and the preferred method of communication and entertainment among students. An emerging national concern is inappropriate use of the Internet by children. This problem has the potential to be harmful, and we ask your support in assisting us as we face this challenge.

 Across the nation, schools have seen an increase in negative student behavior as a result of message and photo posts using social media apps. Instant messaging allows students to chat and to post statements that ordinarily would not be said in a face-to-face conversation. The popularity of these apps continues to grow. For our youngest users, e-mail can be an equally powerful addiction. Some students use such digital venues to bully or threaten harm toward other students. These “cyberbullies,” mostly children between the ages of 9 and 14, use the anonymity of the Web to hurt others without witnessing the consequences. Students who are bullied online sometimes do not report these occurrences for fear that they will be barred from using the Internet.

 Helpful Tips and Resources

 With the safety of our students foremost in mind, we at Star strongly recommend that parents limit and monitor their children’s Internet and email access at home. We also encourage parents to learn about Internet safety and to play an active role in discussing the issue with their children. One helpful site for such information iscommonsensemedia.org.  Parents should be aware of what their children are writing on the Internet and what others are posting in reply. This is most importantly applicable to school issued email addresses (staroftheseasf.com). Reviewing settings with your child is one way to keep an eye on appropriate use. For example, parents can send school-filtered junk and spam directly to trash, to avoid a child perusing the contents of their junk folder. There is also a way to set up a child’s school email account so that it can be monitored via a parent’s email client. Additionally, smartphones can manage multiple accounts on the google mail app. We also encourage parents to establish rules and guidelines to ensure the child safety while on the Internet. Some Web sites offer parental or family guidance for Internet safety; for example, SafeKids.com. Star of the Sea’s Technology Committee is also working on compiling a parent resource page on our school website dedicated to internet safety at home.

 Cyber-Safety at School

 Star of the Sea uses google apps for education and has recently added other safety features to our firewall through the work of the Technology Committee to restrict student access to inappropriate Web sites and apps while on school grounds. We will continue to block objectionable material as we deem appropriate. With our adoption of Chromebooks in the middle school grades, we are able to “powerwash” our devices of student-downloaded non-academic apps. All teachers have instituted a policy of only accepting student work from staroftheseasf.com e-mail addresses. Students have been asked to use their school email for the sole purpose of school communication.

 Through lessons provided by classroom teachers and the annual Archdiocese safety and prevention program, we do our best to provide Star of the Sea students with the awareness and knowledge they need to recognize and avoid dangerous, destructive, or unlawful behavior while online and to respond appropriately should they find themselves exposed to such behavior. Star of the Sea School will continue to proactively provide Internet security within our campus community. It is only through a collaborative effort between parents and teachers that we will succeed in creating responsible and safe cyber citizens. Thank you for your support and cooperation in keeping our students safe.

 Sincerely,

theresa-poon

 Mrs. Theresa Poon

Vice Principal In Charge of Technology

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