Bowling Green Ind. adds sophomore refresher course on internet responsibility to its efforts to keep students, devices, safe online; district already gives freshmen a required course and has beefed up its virus protection
Daily News, Bowling Green, July 11, 2017
City school board receives update on district's online practices
By JACKSON FRENCH
As the Bowling Green Independent School District gears up for a second year of providing a Chromebook to each freshman at Bowling Green High School, the school board was updated on measures to ensure district data is protected and students are being taught internet responsibility.
Sharon Logsdon, the district’s director of technology, spoke at Monday’s board meeting about efforts to help students behave appropriately online and offered updates on the district’s defenses against malware.
BGHS freshmen are required to pass a course that teaches internet responsibility within the first nine weeks of school and – for the first time this school year – sophomores will be required to take a refresher course, Logsdon said.
“If the courses are not completed, the devices will not be allowed to continue to go home,” she said. “They will have to be left at school.”
The district also recently switched its virus protection program from McAfee VirusScan Enterprise to McAfee Endpoint Protection, which is a more robust program, Logsdon said.
“It’s supposed to help with ransomware and that type of phishing, things that the older type of virus protection did not do,” she said.
Otherwise, the district’s approach to data and digital instruction is largely unchanged from last year, Logsdon said.
Ransomware, a type of software that threatens to block access to an infected device’s data until a ransom is paid, appeared on a district device last year, according to Logsdon. The ransomware appears to have come from a phishing email that doesn’t seem to have been specifically aimed at the district, she said.
The ransomware encrypted district data but didn’t steal or delete any of it and was cleared up quickly with help from the Department of Education, she said.
Superintendent Gary Fields said that, despite the relative ease with which BGISD cleared up its ransomware problem, the district isn’t taking chances.
“Luckily, it wasn’t anything but we’re going to take all that very seriously,” he said. “We’d rather be safe than sorry.”
Fields said the district is working toward giving every student at the high school a laptop they can use at school and at home.
“Our plan is, in the next two years, to continue that cycle so that two years from now, every student at Bowling Green High School, all 1,250 or so, will have a Chromebook,” he said. “We’ve done a lot of work on improving the wireless access points at the high school so that they can get fast access to those Chromebooks.”
Fields said he’s encouraged by the results the district has seen since giving every freshman a laptop at the start of the 2016-2017 school year.
“It really increases student collaboration, gives students an opportunity to work with their teachers and classmates around the clock, 24 hours a day,” he said. “It allows the teachers to bring in some much more unique teaching strategies that are much more high interest for students.”
In another matter, Fields notified the board of various personnel actions since the previous board meeting, including the transfer of Cedric Browning, a health and physical education teacher at Bowling Green Middle School, to BGHS, where he will be an assistant principal.
Browning said he thinks he was chosen because, as a teacher at the middle school and an assistant coach for the high school’s football and basketball teams, he is familiar with many of the school’s students and has plenty of experience connecting with students and parents alike.
He said he’s looking forward to his new role within the district.
“It’s humbling and it’s an honor,” he said. “I’m excited for the challenge. I’m excited to be part of that excellent leadership team.”
And in a special presentation, the school district honored Grover Jones, who never received a diploma after leaving high school in 1951 to join the military. Jones, a longtime BGHS supporter and familiar face at athletic events, was presented with a diploma Monday night.