LUSD Securely adds filters to student Google accounts

Bailey Kirkeby, News Editor

In the 2019-2020 school year, the Lodi Unified School District (LUSD) will roll out the 1:1 Home to School Connection Initiative, a device checkout program allowing students to check out a personal Chromebook for school and home use. To accommodate the program, the district is employing the Securly Chrome Extension to all LUSD student Google accounts.
An informational Youtube video posted by LUSD Technology titled “Securly Overview for LUSD” outlines how Securly works in conjunction with the 1:1 Chromebooks.
“While away from the classroom, when a student accesses a web page on their Chromebook, their request is sent to Securly’s cloud servers,” the video said. “[The website] is then checked for appropriate and safe content and is finally allowed or denied for the student to view.”
Although Securly is meant to prohibit students from viewing content that is not safe for school, some students say having another web filtering service on top of LUSD’s pre-existing website filters is censorship. In fact, some websites that are blocked on LUSD Chromebooks are legitimate, such as CNN and the Bruin Voice website.
“I can’t get onto the Bruin Voice website unless I go to another website that allows you to sign in with your Google account,” Journalism student Alisa Aistrup, a junior, said. “It takes up a lot of time that could have been used on the website that I’m supposed to be on. It makes me sad because I don’t want [the Bruin Voice] to be blocked as if it were on the same level as Spotify and porn.”
Others, however, say these safety measures will prevent students from being schemed by deceiving websites.
“I definitely think [Securly] will be safer for students by means of not getting clickbaited into certain websites,” junior Zach Stanridge said. “I’m sure many students have clicked a website thinking or hoping for the topic they searched, but [the website’s actual content] wasn’t what they searched.”
Bear Creek Principal Hillary Harrell says that Bear Creek administrators largely base their Chromebook censoring on what content parents would allow their children to see.
“I do feel like our students here at Bear Creek, especially older students, are probably capable of handling more mature subject matter, so I can see there being situations where our students would want to have more access,” Harrell said. “A lot of it comes down to what a parent would be okay with, so we tend to keep a pretty high standard for [what we allow].”
Students are also concerned about the potential cost of Securly and whether or not the extension is worth the price. However, Securly’s website reports that the extension is free for Chromebook use.
“Whether you run it on 10 Chromebooks or 10,000, the right solutions are yours for free… forever,” the Securly website said. “So, just like the unfortunate pattern emerging from our annual fishing trips, there is no catch.”
The Securly Chrome Extension was scheduled to roll out last month, but its effects will likely not be seen until the 1:1 Home to School Connection Initiative is implemented in the 2019-2020 school year.