Parents of Henrico County Public School students now have the ability to monitor their child’s internet activity with the SECURLY web filtering system.
Although the system is already in place at Henrico schools, its new features allow parents to monitor what their child has searched for on school devices, even when the child is using that device outside of school. Through the SECURLY Home app, parents can view their child’s website history in real time. Parents who sign up will also receive weekly email reports on their child’s Internet activity.
“We have always worked with parents. That’s what education is – it’s a partnership,” said HCPS Chief Operating Officer Lenny Pritchard. “We want to be as transparent as possible. As our web filtering systems have improved, this is something we can share with our parents.
Since the school-sponsored devices are intended for educational use only, many websites such as Facebook and other social media sites, gambling sites, and pornographic materials are already blocked. However, with the new software, parents can block other sites they don’t want their child to visit. Parents can also set restricted hours for their child to use the device.
A pilot program launched last year brought the monitoring software to selected classrooms at five schools – a rollout that Pritchard described as “relatively smooth”. The software is now active in all HCPS schools.
Pritchard said he expects the number of parents signing up for monitoring features to increase over the next few weeks.
“There’s only about four weeks left for families, so I’m not sure how strong enrollment is now,” Pritchard said. “But the school system as a whole has included it in our family report card, and the number will continue to grow since it’s only been around for a few weeks.”
The SECURLY system allows teachers to request that certain content – such as sex education content or certain YouTube videos – be unblocked for educational purposes.
“YouTube can be used as an educational tool,” Pritchard said. “Vaping videos, traditionally, can be blocked. We have a no-smoking or no-vaping policy. But if a health class was studying vaping, the teacher could ask to unblock that video.
The web filtering system also alerts the school to students who search for content related to self-harm. Certain keywords are flagged and the school may receive an alert based on the student’s search history. services page.
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Anya Sczerzenie is Henrico Citizen’s educational reporter and Report for America staff member. Make a tax deductible donation to support his work, and RFA will match it dollar for dollar. Register here for its free weekly education newsletter.
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