Internet Filtering

Internet filtering

The district uses Lightspeed to filter internet access through its on-site hardwired and Wi-Fi networks as well as on district-owned devices to ensure it is CIPA compliant. The filter blocks known sites associated with mature or violent content and security threats such as malware. It also attempts to block access during school hours to social media sites, non-educational YouTube videos, and other distractions from instruction.

The district also uses Lightspeed Alert to scan online documents and desktop applications for concerning student behavior on school devices. When it detects warning signs of suicide, cyberbullying, and school violence, it sends alerts to designated safety staff and Lightspeed Safety Specialists. For a threat deemed imminent, the Lightspeed Safety Specialists can immediately contact district safety personnel and/or law enforcement.

Chromebook filtering

District Chromebooks are configured with the Lightspeed extension for continuous filtering. However, it is NOT possible for the district to filter students' personal cell phones or tablets or other non-district devices when they are accessing a cellular data network. Motivated students can sometimes find ways around the various protective technological barriers on their Chromebooks, although they are subject to disciplinary measures if they do so at school.

The strictness of the Lightspeed filter varies by school. The district is not equipped to customize filtering outside of school hours beyond the school-wide level, but teachers can optionally monitor and filter the students assigned to their classes during their scheduled classtime.

High School

The filter is most stringent on Mondays-Fridays from 7:45 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Outside of those hours, it relaxes to allow more access to blogs, entertainment, instant messaging, music, and social media. YouTube access is relaxed as well, although Restricted Mode and Age Restrictions still apply.

Middle & Elementary School

Since middle school students can be 11 years old or sometimes younger, stringent filtering is kept in place at all times with no relaxation after hours. The same stringent filtering applies to all elementary student accounts.

Parents need to realize, however, that mischievous students can sometimes find ways to defeat any filter we erect.

Parents are the best filter

If you are concerned about how your child is using a Chromebook for internet access at school, please coordinate with your child's teachers. If you have concerns about their usage at home, consider restricting their access to the device to public areas of the home in your presence, such as at a dining table, in the shared living area, etc.

Home filtering technology

Parents can try using Parental Controls on their home WiFi routers or appliances to further restrict student access to various websites.  However,  home filtering only works if they are connected to your own home WiFi network. It has no effect if they connect to a cellular data hot spot or an open WiFi network within range.

The hard truth, whether or not the school provides a take-home device, is that parents must invest time in instilling a sense of personal responsibility in their children and encourage safe online behavior since there will always be opportunities to access the open internet using borrowed devices and students can sometimes defeat technological barriers.

Filtering specifics

Only district accounts can login

Only district-provided student or staff accounts can be used to login to a district-provided Chromebook. It will not accept personal Google account credentials. Unfortunately, it also will not accept Tri-County Tech accounts since those are not part of the district's web domain.

Blocked website categories
The Lightspeed extension on the Chromebooks checked out to students for take-home use is set to always block, at all times, any websites Lightspeed has identified in these categories except that the asterisked ones are allowed for high school students after school hours: ads, alcohol, auctions, audio/video, chat*, drugs, entertainment*, expired, Facebook*, forums*, gambling, games*, Instagram*, instant messaging*, mature, music*, parked websites, plagiarism, pornography, security threats, shopping, social media*, spam, suspicious, Twitter*, unknown websites, violence, weapons, and web domains outside the USA. 

Google searches
The Lightspeed extension is set to always enforce Google SafeSearch and filter Google image search thumbnails. 

During the school day for high school students and at all times for middle school students, YouTube is restricted to approved educational videos. For high school students after hours, YouTube filtering is relaxed but is still set to YouTube Restricted Mode with YouTube Age Restrictions and to hide YouTube comments.

Hotspot filtering
Since district hotspots can be used with personal devices as well as district Chromebooks, they have their own filtering enabled through AT&T. High school hotspots block the categories of alcohol, anonymizers, audio/video streaming other than YouTube, child-inappropriate, gambling, lingerie/suggestive/pin-up, mature, malicious sites, nudity, pornography/sex/erotic, profanity, R-rated, sport fighting, streaming video (except for YouTube), swimsuits, tobacco, unknown domains, violence, and weapons. Middle school and elementary school hotspots block additional adult categories, chat, and social networking.

Chrome Apps & Extensions installed via the Chrome Web Store
The Chrome Web Store can be used to install a variety of dedicated Chrome applications and extensions. The district only allows pre-approved apps and extensions to be installed on student Chromebooks. Those can be viewed by logging into the Chrome Web Store with a student's district account and selecting the For option.

Chrome Web Store for

The various entries have some instructional purpose, such as basic utilities (e.g. Calculator), electronic textbook apps (e.g. Pearson Realize), academic programs (e.g. Quizlet and Kahoot), and various accessibility utilities which can make it easier for students with handicaps to use online services.

Don't confuse apps and extensions with websites
These restrictions on dedicated Chrome apps and extensions installed via the Chrome Web Store do NOT apply to websites in general. Those are blocked or allowed by the Lightspeed Relay filter as described earlier.