April 1st, 2020
Dear Weston Parents/Guardians,
As we do our best to support the students of Weston with online instructional opportunities I need to inform you about the tools we use and some cautions I have for you.
We are, whenever possible, using many of the same online tools we employed in face to face schooling (just a few short weeks ago). However, we have also needed to utilize these tools in new ways and add tools we had not needed prior. Please be aware of the following:
- Our use of video conferencing is new. We are using a number of tools (Google Hangouts/Meet, Zoom, and GoToMeeting). We need your help to ensure these tools are being used appropriately by students:
- Parents/guardians should be mindful about what family activities would potentially be heard/seen during the students’ use of video conferencing. This is a great tool to keep students connected, but please have your students use these tools somewhere near enough you can monitor, yet private enough to concentrate on their work.
- Please have students dress appropriately when video conferencing and make sure that there are no distracting materials or backgrounds.
- Recording conference sessions: We encourage teachers to record non-confidential video conferencing sessions and post them for students who cannot attend the live session. There may be some sessions a faculty member may want to record about specific instructional group activities. We want and need our faculty to be efficient and effective when covering material or providing reinforcement. Therefore, here are some guidelines about recordings:
- These recordings will not be publicly available, only shared within the Google Classroom, a similar section of the same class, or within the Weston Google domain that requires a network account.
- Faculty will announce their intention to record the session giving students/parents/guardians the opportunity to turn off their camera and/or microphone if privacy is of concern.
- Students/parents/guardians, should not take photos, screenshots, record any video, or audio, from these conference sessions. You do not have permissions to do so and it is a violation of our Responsible Use Guidelines
- We are aware of recent Zoombombing issues and have taken appropriate precautions.
- We are posting videos to YouTube that would have ordinarily been processed/compressed and shared in Google Drive. Google is trying to keep up with demand, but unable to devote as many resources to the task, thus, this last weekend, we purchased an online tool that will make it easier for faculty to create and share screencasts of instructional content without the need to use Youtube. However, for messaging to larger groups YouTube is a quick means for us to share messages intended for grade levels, schools, or the entire district. We are enforcing moderate restrictions mode for Youtube. This is similar to the most restrictive setting that uses community flagging, age-restrictions, and other signals to identify and filter out inappropriate content while still allowing access to content created and shared by Weston faculty. Youtube restricted modes are not one hundred percent accurate. We cannot account for or guarantee what video suggestions will appear or what access students have to Youtube videos.
- The tools we use are vetted by our faculty and administrators for data privacy and safety. We will be adding new tools as needed and are mindful of this important aspect.
- Please have social media and video conferencing devices charged and secured somewhere safe during sleeping hours.
- Lastly, the same rules of conduct and behavior will apply as apply in the classroom. The Weston Public Schools Responsible Use Guidelines will continue to apply to this remote learning.
If you have questions or concerns about your student’s use of online tools, please contact me or your Principal.
We appreciate your support during this challenging time and we are working very hard to keep our students engaged and supported. Please take a moment to thank your student’s teachers–they are working harder/longer hours than they would if school were in session. We miss the sounds of students in the hallways and look forward to eventually returning to school.
Dr. Lee McCanne
Director of Technology and School Libraries
Weston Public Schools and the Town of Weston