Weekly NewsBrief 9/6/21 - 9/12/21
Influx of school devices provides crucial opportunities for data privacy lessons – By Shawna De La Rosa, K-12 Dive
With the exponential increase in school-issued devices due to the COVID-19 pandemic comes the opportunity to teach students the importance of taking steps to safeguard their data privacy, and experts suggests school leaders should warn students to erase or delete anything they don’t want school officials to see prior to returning devices to school IT departments, EdTech reports.
Though school-issued devices don’t fall under the student privacy umbrella, warning families to remove any private information will prevent unintentional sharing. Students should also be taught how to clear their digital histories and clean their hard drives, and IT professionals can avoid accidentally running across potentially embarrassing or concerning documents by wiping the devices clean without ever logging in.
Students should also be reminded that anything they store in school-linked cloud accounts can be seen by school officials. Lessons on clearing cloud storage accounts will further protect students from unintentionally sharing private information.
Illinois gives school districts leeway for remote instruction amid COVID outbreaks – By Samantha Smylie, Chalkbeat
Illinois districts will be required to offer remote learning to all students who are quarantined after being potentially exposed to COVID-19 in school, under a resolution passed Tuesday by the state board of education.
In an earlier resolution issued by the board, remote instruction was limited to students who are unvaccinated or ineligible for a COVID vaccine if they were under quarantine orders from a local public health department or the state department of health.
The new public health guidelines also give school districts the ability to close school buildings under an “adaptive pause” if there is an outbreak at schools. The updated resolution comes amid the emergence of the highly contagious delta variant and a spike in COVID case numbers and hospitalizations throughout the state.
The number of schools on the state’s campus outbreak list grew to 81 as of Sept. 3; another 1,007 schools reported potential exposures. More districts have also been forced to contend with sizable numbers of students in quarantine.
Several school districts in Mississippi have plans in place to use federal stimulus funds to offer up to $1,000 for teachers and staff members who get vaccinated against COVID-19, but the Mississippi Department of Education is advising them to press pause.
Although the U.S. Department of Education and the state auditor’s office agree that monies from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund can be used by schools to incentivize both students and employees to get vaccinated, the department has not yet given districts the go-ahead, MDE spokesperson Jean Cook said.
Cook declined to say what further guidance or information the department needed.
The Biloxi Public School District has rolled out a plan to pay $1,000 to staffers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 8. The plan is for the payments to go out in December, Biloxi Superintendent Marcus Boudreaux said.
Massachusetts schools will be required to resume COVID case reporting, officials say – By Melissa Hanson, MassLive
Massachusetts schools will be required to resume reporting positive COVID-19 cases among students and staff members, education officials confirmed Wednesday morning.
Last month, the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education had said districts would not be required to report positive cases in school buildings for the new academic year. It was a change from last school year, when cases were tracked and data was released in a weekly report from DESE.
But now, all school districts will need to resume reporting positive COVID cases to DESE starting the week of Sept. 13, officials told MassLive.
The data will be available in weekly reports again. Officials said the data will give DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley more information to assess conditions at schools.