Cybersecurity expert: Parents should become familiar with remote learning technology

School Updates

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — With several districts across the state choosing to begin the school year virtually, a cybersecurity expert tells 12 News there are plenty of steps parents can take to ensure their child is safe while learning online.

Districts across the state have distributed thousands of Chromebooks and other devices to students to assist them with remote learning.

Vice President of IT Security with Compass IT Compliance Jesse Roberts said the best thing a parent can do to help their child with remote learning is to understand how their device works.

Roberts also said it’s important to be aware of the school’s guidelines.

“I would ask what the schools’ policies are around what they do to control explicit content, what the students can do,” Roberts explained.

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For parents who have purchased their own Chromebook, Roberts said to install the app “Family Link,” which parents can download and link their child’s Google account to.

“From there you can actually decide what websites they’re able to use, what apps they’re able to go on,” Roberts explained. “You can monitor their screen time.”

Roberts said apps like this make it much easier for parents, especially those who aren’t tech savvy, to monitor what their child is doing.

He also said parents should familiarize themselves with their child’s device and how it works.

Tiverton started school on Monday using a hybrid model, meaning certain grades will be split into two groups.

Those groups will rotate from in-person to remote learning each week. If there are no issues in September, all students will return to school in person on Oct. 8 for the remainder of the school year.

Tiverton’s school handbook from last year states that the school maintains firewalls and a content filter on all of its devices to restrict access to online games, chat rooms and unacceptable sites, but “no filter is as reliable as adult supervision.”

The handbook later states, “with parent permission, the web filter used at the school will be turned on at home as well.”

Tiverton Superintendent Peter Sanchioni tells 12 News all students who will be learning virtually were given Chromebooks. He said the district distributed 1,680 in all, and have implemented a 1:1 Chromebook program for 5th-12th grade.

Here’s what some other school districts are doing:

Bristol-Warren: The school district distributed approximately 2,000 Chromebooks or other devices to students who are learning remotely.

Burrillville: The school district has distributed Chromebooks to 2,250 K-12 students.

Cumberland: The school district, which opted to begin the school year remotely, has distributed approximately 4,050 Chromebooks to students

Johnston: The school district has distributed approximately 3,000 Chromebooks to students in grades Pre-K through 12. Like Tiverton, they’ve also implemented a 1:1 program.

Narragansett: The school district approximately 1,200 devices to students K-12.

Newport: The school district said the city’s more than 2,150 K-12 students will use a Chromebook this school year.

North Smithfield: The school district distributed Chromebooks to all K-12 students.

Pawtucket: The school district, which opted to begin the school year remotely, has distributed 6,000 Chromebooks.

Portsmouth: The school district distributed Chromebooks to all students K-12, an estimated 2,306, though some special populations and Pre-Kindergartners were given iPads. They’ve also implemented a 1:1 program.

Providence: The school district has distributed approximately 20,000 Chromebooks to students last spring. Seniors who graduated or students who moved to a new school turned theirs in at the end of the school year and additional Chromebooks were distributed to students over the past two weeks for the start of this school year.

Smithfield: The school district has distributed approximately 2,376 Chromebooks to Pre-K through 12 students.

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